Young people and politics

11 May 2019

After watching the debate between Scott Morrison and Bill Shorten Wednesday night I loved reading this article on Thursday, in the SMH. Firstly, I wonder how many high school students are engaging currently with politics - do young people engage with the issues and have firm ideas about political leadership? It often surprises me how much our students do know and how they process and make sense of ideas. As teachers we remain neutral on political positions and are careful in the way we approach conversations in class. Having taught History for many years, it would be normal at a time like this – with a Federal election approaching – that senior students would want to discuss their views. Certainly, we want our students to think for themselves and be active and engaged citizens: this is at the heart of an educated mind. The views of these students from the NSW School’s Debating team are certainly typical of the comments I hear around the school –particularly about the qualities of the leader and their leadership styles and vision.

The second thing I enjoyed as I weaved my way through the article were the sophisticated comments about each leader’s debating style. You couldn’t help but be impressed by the way each student saw the debate and some of the techniques used by each of the candidates. It reminded me of the ebbs and flows of a debate and how team members read the debate differently. What impressive young men and women and a credit to their schools and coaches. 

At the end, an adjudicator has a hard job – and given the experience of these high school debaters – a consensus is hard to reach. Perhaps this remains a good lesson for us all and a keen reminder that speaking and constructing an argument is both difficult and takes time and skill. As our debaters – either the HICES teams or the Virtual Debating teams – debate over the coming months getting that balance right between the delivery and the content is a battle that certainly is one well worth having. I look forward to a student from Newcastle Grammar School one day being part of the NSW Debating team or indeed standing front and centre articulately expressing their party’s views, in their quest to lead our Nation.