A day in the life of: A Debater

This article is part of the CCA Previews for 2016.

by Cheang Ko Lyn (16A01B), Chairperson

Are you interested in ideas? More importantly, are you interested in the logic behind ideas and figuring out what makes great arguments tick? If so, then Raffles Debaters is the perfect place for you.

Raffles Debaters was founded in March 1886, making us the oldest CCA in Raffles Institution with 130 years of history, and a heritage of esteemed alumni including former Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong and Professor Tommy Koh. The support of our alumni makes the experience in Raffles Debaters especially enriching, as our seniors, many of whom are former Singapore national team debaters, often come to spar with us. Through this process of learning under the best, we seek to nurture our members to become great debaters themselves and hopefully in the future, apply these skills in their lives.

A training day (typically held twice a week on Mondays and Wednesdays) usually involves an impromptu debate spar within the club, or with alumni debaters. Following the release of a motion, debaters will prepare for the debate according to the rules of the particular format for the day’s debate. The preparation time is where we get to engage with our fellow club mates. Teamwork, tenacity and trust are all crucial elements of this sport, as we learn to communicate effectively not just with the audience or adjudicators, but with our team. While working together with each other, you will certainly make good friends!

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Champions of the International Humanitarian Law Debate Series 2015, one of the many achievements of the club.

In our training, the focus is on both rigorous logical analysis and persuasive rhetoric in our speeches, to convince and persuade audiences of our point. Critical thinking skills, the method of logical persuasion, and an acute appreciation for global affairs, history and philosophy are just some of the fruits one can hope to enjoy through this CCA.

If what was described above seems like an overly high bar, especially for those who are have no prior debate experience, rest assured that this CCA is not only for those who have the gift of the gab, or those who already have prior debate experience. In fact, the Raffles Debaters takes in a significant number of students who are new to debate every year, with the promise that every debater will be taught useful oratorical and thinking skills no matter where they stand on the learning curve. Each and every debater will also be given the chance to gain competition experience with numerous debate competitions held throughout the year, and to hone their skills in a way that is suitably challenging and enjoyable.

Moreover, joining the Raffles Debaters will not only allow you to hone your oratorical skills and skills in logical argumentation (certainly helpful for the much dreaded Oral Presentation at the end of the year), it will also give you an opportunity to join a big family of likeminded individuals. Our club has more than its fair share of lighthearted, jovial moments, where the sometimes somber gravity of debating is equally balanced with a festive and always energised club atmosphere. The CCA year will be filled with tournaments, and competitive debating does not adhere to a specific tournament season. Therefore, our mind’s stamina is trained in Raffles Debaters, as month upon month requires that we step up to the challenge and always bring our sharpest wits to every debate.

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Celebrating CCA mates birthdays.

Our coaches, Ashish Kumar and Lee Chin Wee are dedicated mentors and highly prolific national debate team alumni. Ashish is the best debater in the world, ranked first at the World Universities’ Debating Championships, and Chin Wee was part of the team that won the Eurasian Schools’ Debating Championships. With their mentorship, and with your own diligent labour, your experience in Raffles Debaters will certainly be a meaningful battle won.

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Celebrating Singapore clinching the Champion title at the World School’s Debating Championships 2015.

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