PIPER’S HILL DEBATING SOCIETY
In 2013 a debating team was put together to take part in the Concern Schools Debating Competition. They were Dale Lawlor, Daniel Logan, Aditya Krishnan, Eoin Beatty and Jack Brennan. As the team reached the semi-finals of the competition in their first year (a total of 144 schools entered) interest grew, and debating became an on-going extra-curricular activity. The Piper’s Hill Debating Society was formed.
The society now has members from all years in the school. In between competitions there are very lively discussions on many topics with opportunities to improve communication skills in a relaxed and inclusive environment. A debating committee of Transition Year students has been established this year. Their role is to mentor younger debaters, write reports on debates and learn how to adjudicate. Their co-ordinator is Aimee McFadden.
The debating society meets every Thursday afternoon from 4-5 p.m. New members are always welcome.
Left picture: Concern team; Right picture Junior Debaters 2015
“Before I joined debating in fifth year, my parents and teachers constantly told me that debating was the ‘best thing I could do’. Many times I heard that it builds amazing public speaking skills and looks great on your CV – not exactly what was on my mind at 17. At the time, I rolled my eyes at the exaggeration; it turns out that they were 100% correct. Despite it being over 3 years since I left Piper’s Hill, I still talk about my time on the team in almost every interview; I never get nerves before a presentation; I know how to defend my position in an argument; I know what’s reputable and what’s probably ‘Fake News’.
Apart from that, it was also a really, really enjoyable experience. A debating team is a lot like any sports team. Practising over and over again can sometimes be frustrating, but there’s nothing better than a bus ride back from a debate where you thoroughly dismantled the other team. You form really strong bonds with your teammates and coaches, through the ups and the downs. For all these reasons, debating is one of my strongest memories from secondary school – I can still remember a lot of our motions word for word! From someone that was sceptical at first – it really is the best thing you can do!”
Daniel Logan. Graduate London School of Economics (Actuarial Science). Now teaching English in university in Ecuador. Captain Piper’s Hill Senior Debating Team 2013/2014/2015
As a 15-year-old girl in TY, speaking loud enough for the teacher to hear me was a challenge. I was growing tired of being told to speak up and I was become increasingly frustrated with myself. So, you can imagine my surprise when I was picked out of a handful of my peers to be on a debating team for my school. I competed on behalf of the school in three debating competitions and spoke on a number of topics including school uniforms, the current voting age and Donald Trump.
Debating has helped me to have an open mind and has even changed my opinion on certain issues. Researching and writing the speeches can sometimes be tricky but nothing is more satisfying than knowing you’ve written the perfect speech. Reading the speech out loud fills you with pride and adrenaline because you know how much work you put into it and you know that you are having an impact on the audience’s opinions. Rebuttals can be viewed in two ways; a potential way to mess up or a way to further drive your point while disarming the other team. You have to pay careful attention to what the other team says. If you hear any discrepancies, contradictions or incorrect statements make sure you say it! Don’t ever assume that the adjudicators will notice their mistakes, you must make it known and do it with confidence! To be persuasive you must believe in everything you are saying then the audience and adjudicators will surely agree.
I won’t tell you that it’s easy to speak in front of a crowd, because it isn’t, but I will tell you that the confidence you will gain is certainly worth it. Public speaking is a skill that you will need for at least one event in your life; whether it be in class, in university, or in the workplace. So, if you are given the opportunity to debate, why not take it when there is so much to gain?
Rebecca Weafer. Student of French and History NUIM. Rigby Jones Finalist 2015 & 2017.
Debating has allowed me to develop a critical perspective of a variety of political, legal, economic and social issues, while substantially developing thorough research skills, and a high standard of verbal and written communication.
My involvement with the Rigby Jones debating competition and the European Youth Parliament has allowed me to develop my capacity to research and structure arguments, and analyse complex matters such as cryptocurrency and blockchain technology.
The research skills that debating fosters and develops has proven essential to me in my engagement with several legal essay competitions, such as those organised by the Trinity College Law Review, The University of Oxford, The University of Cambridge, and the University of Limerick. I have enjoyed great successes in my articles pertaining to the Refugee Act and direct provision, the nature of the substantive and legal truth, the capacity of European Law to regulate disinformation disseminated over social media, and protections available to the citizen from parliamentary privilege.
The fundamentally adversarial and oratory nature of debating has also proved highly valuable to the development of my communication skills, and my ability as an orator, which has been beneficial to me in a highly multifaceted sense.
Luke Mooney-Foley. Leaving Certificate Student 2018-19. Captain Piper’s Hill Senior Debating Team 2017.
Pictured below left: Naas League Finalists; Pictured below right: Rigby Jones 2017
I have been a member of the Debating Society since 2014, my first year in Piper’s Hill. Looking back, it is strange to think that I almost refused to go to the first meeting. I took the leap, and after four years in the society I would strongly encourage others to do the same. The society has evolved significantly in the time that I have spent in it. In my first year we held many in-house debates, which allowed us to hone our skills and get used to writing speeches. In my second year we began to have friendly debates against local schools such as CBS and St Mary’s College. This gave us our first taste of competition and left us hungry for more. In my third year we started the Liam Moloney Junior Debating League involving other local schools. In the inaugural year of the league, 2016, we won the Cup. We also participated in a mixed schools debate, which my team also won. In my fourth year I transitioned from the junior group to the senior group and became part of a team that entered the Rigby Jones competition. We had a great series of debates and we made it to the final, which we narrowly lost.
It has been a very enjoyable experience to be part of the society. In my time the junior debating group went from standing on shaky legs to an expanding membership and winning the league. The senior competition brought with it a great sense of competition and achievement. Over the years, I have covered a wide range of topics in debates. These ranged from abstract (The Pen Is Mightier Than The Sword) to vividly real (Organ Donation Should Be Compulsory ); from light (Sports Stars Are Paid Too Much) to serious (Our Country Has Failed The Poor And The Homeless); from controversial topics (Our Country Should Welcome President Trump) to obscure topics that yielded a surprising amount of argument (Following Orders Is Never An Excuse). The atmosphere of cooperation and teamwork has always been very strong in the club, and although there are only three or four on a team, every single member of the society gets involved with each debate.
Sean Gallagher. 5th Year Student 2018/19. Captain of Junior Debating Team 2016/2017.