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Defining a primary school debating topic – 8. Anna-Sophia Zahar

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ANNA SOPHIA-ZAHAR: Hi, guys. So today, we're going to work through together the definition and the context and basically how we go around thinking about a really, really popular topic from last year's primary school debating challenge. So the topic we're going to do today is that kids in Year 5 and above should have to get a paid job for one afternoon a week.

OK, so the first thing I like to do when thinking about where to start with prepping a topic and thinking about the definition is to think about the problem that we're trying to solve. So I think that the problem here is that kids are probably not prepared enough for the workforce. And one indicator of that is that youth unemployment is quite high.

So now we know the problem we're trying to solve, we can be careful to make sure that nothing we put in our definition makes our job of debating this or trying to solve this problem harder for us. But at the same time, it's really important not to narrow down what you're arguing so much that you kind of muddle up the debate. And if that sounds confusing, I'll point at situations where we might end up doing that in our definition.

So firstly, let's just start with the basics. So what kinds of kids? We know they have to be Year 5 and above, so we don't need to put this in our model. And probably in this debate, we'll be focusing on the younger kids, because it's a lot easier to argue for older kids that they should have to get jobs, but we're already given the age range. Something I've seen some schools do in debates is that they say that we make an exception for kids who have different abilities or are differently abled, but I don't think that's necessary at all, because everyone has skills that they're able to use to contribute to jobs and the workforce.

So now, let's look at something that's really important. What sort of jobs? So we could say things like, they have to go to the park and pick up rubbish, because that's a job that all little kids can easily do. But the thing is, we're not really arguing the debate here. Because if we're trying to make them more responsible, them going to the park and picking out rubbish probably doesn't do this in the best way it could. So let's think about jobs where they're given a bit more responsibility.

I think a really good example is something like stacking shelves in supermarkets, because putting cans on shelves is something that everyone can do. And it is something that gives you the opportunity to work inside a shop. It means you're being paid by a boss. So in this definition, we'd say things like stacking shelves, helping out in shops, running the cash register, things like this that give you some responsibility. But obviously, we don't want things like using the forklift at the nearby farm, because that's pretty dangerous right, and these kids could hurt themselves. So that would make a debate a lot harder for us to win.

So now, let's think of when. In the topic, it says that it should be one afternoon a week, so we don't really have to think about this too much. But we can give a... maybe we can say that they would have to do their job for two hours, one or two hours, something like that. Maybe you'll be thinking, but how do we know these kids will actually do this job? I think that this isn't super important in the definition, because we can probably leave it up to parents and teachers to make sure that kids are doing their work. But something we can add to be safe is that we'd get the employer of these kids to sign off on their shifts to make sure that they've completed them.

OK, the next thing we think about in all the who, what, when, where, whys is where. So I don't really see any reason to narrow this down too much. And remember, you don't always have to put in a where if it's not really necessary. You don't have to narrow it down for no reason. So I think just saying in Australia should be fine, and that's pretty obvious, actually, so you don't even really need to say if you don't want to, but you can totally say it to be safe.

And we know that our context or the problem we're trying to solve is youth unemployment and young people having trouble entering the workforce. All right, great. So now, let's run through this speech. So I would say, ladies and gentlemen, currently, we have a massive problem in our society. Young people aren't prepared enough to enter the workforce because they don't have the responsibility and the skills. This is leading to very high rates of youth unemployment.

Our definition today is that all... sorry, today we are arguing that all kids in Year 5 or above should have a paid job for one afternoon a week. In our definition, we'd like to say that these sort of jobs should include things like stacking shelves and running the cash register in supermarkets or helping out cleaning a shop or mopping the floors. So this would happen every week on any afternoon for one to two hours. We would have their employers sign off their shift to make sure that these kids were turning up to this job. We would have this happen in the whole of Australia. So that's all you need to do. There's your definition. I hope that helped. See you later, guys.

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