From the Director of Student Programs

“For good ideas and true innovation, you need human interaction, conflict, argument and debate.” Margaret Heffernan

The art of Debating goes back centuries and is now a key component in the 21st Century Skills including:

  • Collaboration and teamwork
  • Creativity and imagination
  • Critical thinking
  • Problem solving and
  • Adaptability

St Catherine’s also has a rich history in Debating and is proud to boast a 56 strong DAV Debating team in 2017.

The team, lead ably by 2017 Debating Captain, Chloe Thompson (Year 12), consists of students from Years 9-12. These students participate in a riveting competition, of five rounds of Debating over Terms 1-3 at Scotch College. Training is held on Thursday afternoons, with debating coaches and staff, assisting the girls in learning and perfecting their Debating craft.

On Thursday 18 April, I had the fortune of attending the Secret Topic Debates where our teams are unaware of the topic prior to arriving at the host school. The teams are given 60 minutes to prepare their debate, with strict rules and supervision, in preparation for their debate against another school. The frenzy of creating, documenting, problem solving and teamwork involved during this preparation time was a sight to see, with our girls in classrooms, creating a model for their debate, either affirmative or negative for their debating topics.

The benefits and skill of debating are well documented and the promotion of critical thinking skills is suggested by Tumposky (2004), “debate nurtures students’ critical thinking skills and awareness of thought, and facilitates clinical reasoning and ability to share viewpoints with others while learning specific content. Debate also allows students to move beyond “rote learning of facts, theories, and technique,” and provides an opportunity for applying knowledge through role-playing while demonstrating their ideas, values, and attitudes.”

Debating is a craft that is learned with guidance, feedback and experience. Our debating students are guided with the assistance of staff, coaches and senior girls, who are on hand to provide constructive feedback to our teams.

I was proud of our girls last week and I look forward to seeing more of the DAV debates. Thank you to Mary-Anne Keratiotis, Debating and Public Speaking Coordinator, for the careful planning and preparation of our girls for the debating season.


Tumposky, N. R. (2004). The debate debate. The Clearing House: A Journal of Educational Strategies, Issues and Ideas, 78(2), 52-56.

Mrs Gina Peele, Director of Student Programs