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Huili pupils prove that the benefits of debate are undebatable

13 Mar 2023



The finals of our first Siming Chinese Debate competition have concluded, and our pupils showed a flair for conducting thorough research, crafting clear and cogent arguments, and expressing their differences with decency and civility. 





Rising to the challenge


From planning to promoting to final execution, this event was completely pupil-led by Emma, Tony, Seven, Bernice and Peach from Grade 10, five Huili pupils with extensive competitive debate experience.


▲Members of the Siming debate organizing committee on discussion



Their enthusiasm proved contagious.

The number of competitions applicants far exceeded expectations. There was so much interest that Emma and Tony had to expand the size of the event and recruit more judges to participate. 


In the meantime, they developed a comprehensive manual laying out all the rules for each section of the competition. They worked together to come up with the topics for debate too. Emma says,


We chose subjects relevant to our fellow pupils to inspire our pupils take think hard about how to solve the social problems we face today.


Outstanding Huili debate achievements from winning the Shanghai Chenhui Cup and the National Championship to being runner-up in the category A of the National Zongheng Cup



After three months of planning, however, a local COVID-19 outbreak threw a spanner in the works. For the sake of everybody’s health and safety of all involved, they decided to move all events leading up to the final debate online. 


To some extent, our pupils had to start over from scratch, but they demonstrated a keen ability to adapt and overcome. And ultimately, our debaters were able to compete in person once again for the finals.


The final of the Siming Debate competition





Creating the conditions of debate


Grade 9 pupil Calla was new to debate, but that did not stop her from signing up for the competition. To her surprise, she made it all the way to the finals and won first place in High School Group. 


In preparation for her final debate topic, she combed global news media, and legal cases to broaden her understanding of the issues. She also applied what she had been learning in class. 


Having further honed her communication skills, she will take what she has learned and apply it to her second appearance in our upcoming TEDx Huili event.


▲Calla in TEDx and debate competition



Clear communication and logical thinking are key skills for a talented debater, and Huili offers ample opportunities to develop them both in and out of the classroom. 


In the Model United Nations CCA, pupils assume the role of international diplomats to gain literacy in global issues and negotiate solutions with civility. In the Moot Court CCA pupils gain an in-depth of legal cases and provisions. The Sustainable Huili CCA teaches pupils how to identify problems and map out solutions.



Language and thinking are mutually supported. Exchanging ideas with each other can help us reach a higher level of understanding of the world and ourselves, eventually making us have a mature thinking about different cultures.





Forward steps  


The Siming Debate teaches a skill set that will also serve several pupils well when they participate in our upcoming TEDx Huili event. This year’s theme is “Even better if…”


Dr Arruda, who will be participating in the event says, 


‘Even better if…’ is a phrase we often use when writing comments to pupils, and we hope that Huili pupils and teachers will always ask themselves: what I can do to be better and to take another step forward.


In fact, many of our Huili teachers have taken such a step forward.


Head of Secondary Maths Ms Wang Yi had never judged a debate competition before, but she treated it seriously. “When I recruited Ms Wang to judge the competition, she not only asked us about the rules, but also observed several online debate competitions. She even made time available for us when we needed her to judge more competitions,” Emma recalls.


Ms Pan, Head of Secondary Chinese, also spared no effort in her support of the event, helping to rent a venue, coordinating the event and acting as a judge. In fact, she was regarded as the 'sixth member' of the organising committee.


5 organising committee members, 18 chairs, 21 grips, 38 teacher judges and 102 participants 


Tony has also taken another step forward. 


In a debate CCA that he teaches independently, he introduces American-style debate techniques to new team members. In each class, Tony designs different activities to help new debaters adjust to English-language debate. 


They explore issues like the pros and cons of energy subsidies in developing countries. They will also have a friendly online debates with pupils at our sister school, Wellington College International Shanghai.  


▲Tony in a debate CCA that he teaches independently



So, why do we debate at Huili School Shanghai? 


We do not do it to find the right answer. Rather, we do it to stretch ourselves and enrich our capacity for clear and logical thinking.