Students not to be argued with
IF YOU'RE looking to win an argument it's best to avoid students from Alstonville Public School.
Four year 6 students from the school have just won the NSW Primary School debating championships.
The students; Emily McEwan, Sam Limpenny-Fawcett, Andrew Entwistle and Luke Fawcett were coached by teacher Maree Jameson.
In their state final against Tamworth Public School the students were given the topic, "Should we allow primary school children to access social networking on the internet?"
The group were asked to argue in favour of social media, which Luke Fawcett said was a difficult task.
"I thought we actually had the bad side because there were a lot of arguments about user safety that which could have been used for the negative side so we came up with arguments to combat that," he said.
Andrew Entwistle said the group found some surprising benefits in using social media such as "freedom of choice and cheap communication".
Debating competitions are used to help students to think laterally, speak clearly and grow in confidence.
Sam Limpenny-Fawcett said the key to debating success is to concentrate on the adjudicator's advice.
"It's about being confident and obviously coming up with arguments and thinking on the spot," he said.
The students are all members of an accelerated learning class at Alstonville Public School.
Teacher David Wright said the class helps students formulate arguments.
"They have probably done 20 or 30 [presentations] in front of the class this year so being in front of an audience doesn't worry them," he said.
"We've had a lot of good kids over many years but to have four do that well is remarkable and we're very proud of them."
Emily McEwan said the school's low profile may have helped them fly under the radar of top private schools competing in the debates.
"There were other big schools there that everyone had heard of like Tamworth and then everyone was like, Alstonville, where's that?"
Mr Wright said he thought it was the first time in 17 years a school from the North Coast has won the primary school debating championships.
"It's a big honour in primary school education to win this," he said.
"They're some of the best kids I've ever taught and I've been doing this for a hell of a long time - 44 years in fact."
- It's up to parents to ensure young people use the net safely
- Studies have shown online networks can help introverted youths learn how to socialise and build networks
- Studies have shown young adults who spend more time on Facebook are better at showing empathy online