Countries new to debating

To be able to debate, people need certain skills; and these skills need to be learned. Debating as a concept can sometimes be unfamiliar to a society or a nation. If students are not used to questioning and being critical of an opinion, which is the basic foundation of debating, it is very difficult for them to understand how debating works as an activity. Establishing a debating culture within your nation may not simply be about teaching a new skill but changing a whole way of thinking.

If this is the situation in your nation, it might be a bit ambitious to dive straight in with a full scale trial process so instead you might consider initially associating yourself with other existing events such as essay writing or public speaking competitions. In some nations there are events such as Model United Nations Youth Parliament which you may wish to collaborate with in order to spot potential talent.

There is always support available to new nations from within the WSDC community and the internet can be an invaluable resource to find debate materials. However, one of the best ways to inspire an interest in debate is to allow as many students as possible to experience it first hand. Students don’t need to participate in a full competitive debate but there are many games and exercises which develop the key skills of debating in a fun and entertaining way, often without the students even realizing what they are doing! Also, display debates can be very useful and if you have even a very small number of individuals, with some debate experience, who can get together to deliver a show debate in front of an audience, it will allow you to translate the concept of debate into reality.

Just bear in mind that, ideally, you want to find students with good logic, critical thinking, and persuasive speech as well as those who are quick thinkers and have a good grasp of world affairs. These qualities are essential to debating. Hence, focusing on these qualities, even without employing debate as a means, will allow you to find the debaters for your national team.

Finally, it is important that you manage your expectations when competing at WSDC for the first time. The championships are a global event and can involve over 50 nations so the standard is extremely high. It is probable that, within your first year at the tournament, you will not win every debate and your students may feel disheartened by their performance or overwhelmed by the standard of the other teams. It is important that you both prepare your debaters for this and select students who can handle the pressure but also encourage them, emphasize the positives and inspire them to want to continue participating. Regardless of the outcome at the tournament, the very fact that, as a new nation, you are competing is a high achievement. The WSDC rules also recognize this and there is an award given for the highest ranking New Nation at each tournament so there is always something you can aim for.