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Defining a primary school debating topic – 03. With Alex De Araujo

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ALEX DE ARAUJO: Hey guys. My name's Alex. I'm a university debater at the University of Sydney.

And, if I wasn't here, I'd be doing something like coaching debating at Sydney Boys High School, or Ascham College, or a variety of different places, going around with Tony, and a bunch of other people, to different primary schools, to teach them all about debating. So, what we're going to do today is, I've got a topic in front of me, and that's 'That parents should pay their kids whenever they're helping out around the house.' And, for that topic, we're going to think about a definition. And, you're going to come with me into prep. And, what we're going to do now is, we're going to work out how we're going to define this topic, and then, I'll deliver it, so you can get a sense of what we should be doing.

So, the first thing to think about when we've got this topic - and, to remind you, it's 'That parents should pay their kids whenever they're helping out around the house.' So, the first thing that we should think about for our definition is where we're going to implement this model. And, it's very, very tempting for me, when I'm thinking about it, to think, 'Well, we don't want to make it too broad, because there's all sorts of different houses, there's all sorts of different kids. We don't know how it's going to affect all of them.'

But, I suppose then, what I think is, well, do we think this is going to be a good idea or a bad idea? And, because we're on the affirmative, chances are we think it's going to be a good idea. And, if we don't think that, we've got to say it anyway.

So, if it is a good idea, we probably want it to be in as many households as possible. So, to answer the question of 'where this will be implemented' I think we're going to go with all Australian households, where there is a kid under the age of 18. As for what are the details, there are a few different details that we could have in this model.

The first thing I'm thinking about is, well, 'how are we going to enforce it? How are we going to work out who does what chores? How are we going to work out the payment method, and all those sorts of things?'

And, the thing I think about there, is we don't want to go into too many nitty-gritty details when we're talking about who's going to enforce this model, particularly when we're dealing with parents. So, when we're dealing with parents, we know that parents are very smart, they're very experienced, and they're able to deal with certain little problems that we can't really anticipate as little primary school, or high school debaters, but they probably have experience in dealing with. So, because of that, we're able to trust parents to enforce most school-based and household-based topics in quite a reliable way.

And, that generally goes for the governments, as well, in topics where the government's involved. So, in this case, why don't we say then that parents are going to enforce this topic themselves, and we don't really need to give any more details surrounding that. One thing that we might want to give detail on is what sorts of things that kids would be paid for, under this model.

And, there's all sorts of things that I'm sure could immediately come to mind. So, I'm thinking doing the dishwasher, doing some laundry, vacuuming, dusting, putting away their clothes, cleaning certain rooms, cleaning the toilet even. I'd hope you get paid a lot for that.

But, even though there's quite a long list, it's going to be quite difficult for us to make a certain exhaustive list where we're listing literally everything that they could possibly be doing. And, even if we could do that, we wouldn't have any time left to actually give any arguments, so, that would be a bit of a problem. I also think that when you're dealing with something where it's quite intuitive, and you think the adjudicator will probably know the sorts of things that you're talking about, because everyone really knows what helping around the house means, we don't have to spend too much time on that.

And, we can just list maybe 1 or 2 things, and say that it's stuff like that that would be paid for. So, we could say something like, 'the sorts of things that they would be paid for would be simple household chores like doing the dishwasher, dusting, or vacuuming.' We don't need to go into detail listing everything, but just a small idea, to give people in the audience an understanding of the kind of things we're talking about.

Another detail that I'm thinking of, when I think of this topic, is how much kids are going to be paid, because it's a really big difference if they're paid 5 cents, compared to being paid $50, for just vacuuming. And, the problems that I'm envisioning, when I think about that, is you don't want to pay them too little, because then there's not really much point having the model in the first place. We want to have some benefit.

But, we don't want to pay them too much, either, because we don't want parents to go bankrupt. We don't want them to be stopping their kids from doing chores, because they don't want to pay them out. So, generally, when you don't want to go too high, or you don't want to go too little, you have a little bit of good faith, in the debate, to sort of pretend that there is some reasonable amount, and go with that.

So, thinking about a reasonable amount, something like $5 or $10, and you don't necessarily have to come down on one particular place, but, you can say that there are some reasonable range where parents would decide themselves. So, in this debate, I would be thinking that kids would be paid somewhere between $5 to $10, depending on what their parent thinks is best for each chore that they do.

And, that's a way to give parents the ultimate decision, and ensure that you don't get attacked by the negative team for doing something that is too outrageous in one direction. The last thing that I'm thinking of, when I think about what the details are, is it's really tempting to think about what the negative team are going to say, and try and create a really crafty definition that really screws them over and gets rid of all of their arguments.

Something, that's really big, the negative team might say is that, with all their new money, kids will spend that on irresponsible things like video games and junk food. And, we could get around that by saying something simple that kids are only allowed to spend their money that they get from chores on certain things, like vegetables or fitness equipment or exercise books and schoolware. The problem with that is, if kids are only allowed to spend their money on that, why would they even want to do the chores in the first place, because they know that they don't really want to spend their money on vegetables.

They don't want to do chores so that they can buy more exercise books for school. And so, they just never would do chores in a realistic world, because they don't really want that money if they can't spend it on the things that excite them. Like, if that is video games or junk food, so be it.

So, we - that's an example of where, if we were really crafty, it would really take away a lot of the effect of our model, that would take away a lot of the benefit. And so, we don't really want to do that. So, instead of thinking about being crafty, let's just limit ourselves to a few simple details. And, if the negative team do say some clever argument, we'll find some other way to rebut it. And, we'll think about that later.

The last thing to think about is when this is going to be implemented. And, I'm thinking that this wouldn't be too difficult a model to implement. And, generally, the when is as soon as can be reasonably implemented, given the complexities of the model.

This is a topic which isn't too complex. All parents have a little bit of money to spare to spend on their kids, making them do chores. Everyone knows what a chore is. Everyone's probably been doing chores throughout their life. We don't need too much preparation.

So, for the when, I would say something short, perhaps 1 or 2 weeks into the future, maybe even right now, just to get the ball rolling. So, what I'm going to do now is, we've done a really good job together of working through this definition. Now, I'm going to do a short context and definition, as if I was a first affirmative speaker. And, you're going to see how this would actually be put together in a speech.

So, imagine I am Year 6 Alex. I'm getting up with my palm cards or my paper, and I'm about to begin the debate. Ladies and gentlemen, there is a massive problem. The problem is kids at home are being irresponsible and not learning the value of money, and not learning how to do chores around the house. That's why we're here to debate 'that parents should pay their kids whenever they're helping out around the house.'

As for our definition, we are going to implement this model in all Australian households with a child under the age of 18. There are a few simple details. Firstly, parents will be responsible for enforcing this model.

Secondly, kids will be paid for all sorts of general household chores, some examples including dusting, vacuuming, and doing the dishwasher. Thirdly, students will be paid a reasonable amount between $5 to $10, to be determined by the parent, for each chore that they do. And, they can spend that money on whatever they want to spend it on.

This model will be implemented as soon as possible, at the most, maybe a week into the future. That's the definition for that topic. And, that's the context as well. That's how I'd deliver it if I was a speech. Hopefully, that helps.


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