For the first time since 1968, Melbourne Grammar’s Year 12 debating team has won the prestigious A Grade championship in the Debaters Association of Victoria , the largest English-language debating competition in the world.
The team included 2018 Captain of Debating, Thomas Sutherland, Daniel Blunt, and Austin Haynes.
“Debating requires an engagement with the world,” explains Daniel. “All three of us love learning and thinking about problems, and that’s what debating allows us to do. I love debating because, for an hour of my week, I get to sit down and think about why something matters. In thinking through a topic, we use our care and passion for the world to present ideas about how we could collectively create the best outcome for the people around us.”
Alongside their debating skills, the team members have a wealth of expertise in other areas having been awarded numerous prizes in disciplines as diverse as Languages, Liberal Arts, the Performing Arts, Mathematics and Science.
This breadth of talent and knowledge across a range of subject areas, along with their ability to work together, are key strengths of the team. “What sets our team apart is also the ability to communicate with each other effectively,” says Thomas. “At A Grade level, all debates are on unseen topics, which means you only have one hour to prepare. So that ability to come together, share ideas and weave together a common argument is what makes a good debating team.”
“I think we have skills that complement each other,” adds Austin. “Daniel’s good at looking at political and philosophical aspects that underpin the broader issue. Thomas is a fantastic speaker who’s very good at generating something on the spot. My strength is listening to Thomas as first speaker and preparing something that Daniel can pull from in his closing argument. As a team, we’re also quite good at coming up with unexpected arguments from left-field that can throw off our opponents.”
Mr Sam Greenland, Teacher in Charge of Debating at Melbourne Grammar School, says the win is a culmination of years of hard work. “I’m exceptionally proud of these three young men,” Mr Greenland says. “They were unbeaten in nine debates and there wasn’t a single one in which it wasn’t a comfortable win for Melbourne Grammar.”