Revelling in Rhetoric

15 December 2015

The great debate was on at IIL as English classes battled it out for supremacy (and chocolate).

Students worked on the art of persuasion, harnessing all their skills to convince the audience of the solidity of their arguments. The hot topics chosen for debate ran the gamut from the refugee crisis in Europe or the death penalty to deciding who is the supreme footballer, Ronaldo or Messi.

Rebuttals raged as debaters had to improvise a defense to their opponent’s challenges, employing humour, shock tactics, emotional appeals and above all, thought-provoking, evidence-based arguments to win the day (and of course, not forgetting the chocolate prizes).

Every student rose to the challenge and managed to impress, as each member of the audience came away much the wiser, and debates continued in the hall long after the bell had rung.

But all the action wasn’t limited to secondary. Ms. Pieters took her 7e English class on an exploration of critical thinking in the form of debate, philosophy and persuasive writing.  She recounts:

The students and I have both become very excited about these new skills and enthusiasm levels have gone through the roof!

We studied how to present a strong argument, and do the necessary research. We debated. We reviewed. We improved. Above all, the students learnt how important it is to work together.  

Round 2 and 3 were one on one knock out rounds.  The students were paired up and each given a motion requiring thorough preparation and we invited our peers to be the valued audience.

We debated. They voted. We got inspired to do more. 

How strong is your argument? Evidence. Proof. Research. Surveys. Websites. “Miss Pieters, guess what research I found…..?”

It consumed us. Every lesson and free moment was spent preparing and rebutting. We have learnt how to twist our brain into obscure new positions and argue to prove a point.

We are thinkers.

Jennifer Engel et Yvonne Pieters


j.clickner[at]iil.ch et y.kotze[at]iil.ch