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World’s Biggest Debate 2021 – Years 9 and 10 grand final
TONY DAVEY: Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the years 9 and 10 final of the 2021 World's Biggest Debate. So my name is Tony Davey, and I'm going to chair this debate for you today. I'm the speaking competition's assistant for the New South Wales Department of Education.
I'm coming to you from Cammeraygal land today. But, of course, the two teams that matter today are Smiths Hill and Sydney Boys. And they're going to do their own acknowledgment of country from which the lands that they're on, starting with Smiths Hill. Over to you guys.
VICTORIA STEWARD: We would like to acknowledge the Wodiwodi people of the Dharawal nation, the traditional custodians of this land, and pay respects to elders past, present, and emerging.
AGASTYA GOVIND: Yep. And we at Sydney Boys would like to pay our respects to the gadigal people of the Eora nation and pay tribute to all elders past, present, and emerging.
TONY DAVEY: Smashing stuff, guys. Thank you for that. So welcome to the final. I'm just going to do a very quick chairpersony job, and then we'll get you guys speaking. The first thing I want to do is remind you that the speaking time today is going to be eight minutes. That means you're going to see a clock beside me. And that clock beside me will turn green after six minutes, orange after eight minutes, and it will turn nine-- red, sorry, if you reach nine minutes. And it'll turn red because it wants you to shut up and go away now.
OK. So the topic for this debate is that we should introduce a mandatory retirement age for teachers. The affirmative today are Smiths Hill High school. They'll be represented by first speaker Emily Condell, second speaker Callum Belgrove, third speaker Ava Roberts, and team advisor Victoria Steward. Over on the negative, we have Sydney Boys High School who'll be represented by Octavio Zapata Carbajal, Abrar Chowdhury, Landrie Zuo at third, and Agastya Govind as the team advisor.
OK. Finally, just our best of luck to you guys. Congratulations on reaching this. And we're certainly looking forward to a cracking final between what are obviously two of the most successful debating schools in our state.
Well, the last thing I should do very quickly is introduce you to our adjudicators for this final. They'll be Jeremiah Edagbami, James Smith, and Anna-Sophia Zahar sitting in on her second final for today. And so is Jeremiah, I think. All right. With that, it's time that we kick this debate off. So, ladies and gentlemen, I'll ask the first speaker of the affirmative representing Smiths Hill, Emily Condell, to come forward and kick us off. Give her a hand, everyone.
EMILY CONDELL: In modern society, we see a problem. All the teachers have acquired a sense of complacency and comfort in their positions, meaning they refuse to retire. This is not only a detriment to a student's education because they're reluctant to move with the modern curriculum and modern technology but also to new teachers who struggle to find positions.
Our model will introduce a mandatory retirement age for teachers in primary and high school in Australia. At 60, teachers will be required to have a conversation with their teaching executives who will encourage and help formulate a plan that ensures their retirement in the next five years. This means the mandatory age of retirement will be 65 years old.
This means that they have an adequate amount of time to prepare. And we also see that when you reach a certain age, a pension is made available, which is a percentage of your previous salary, and that means teachers will be ready to retire financially. We also see an increase in people graduating with teaching degrees, meaning positions will be easily replaced because of high demand.
My allocation. As the first speaker, I'll discuss how the quality of teaching decreases with the rise in modern technology and modern ideas. And my second speaker will be discussing how the mental health of students will be benefited and how shortage of positions negatively affects the industry and how our model will rectify this. My third speaker will finish by discussing the main themes of this debate and by summarising our case.
Now on to my first point, how the quality of teaching decreases with the rise in modern technology and ideas. OK. So we see with time, technology and ideas evolve. For example, this is obvious in the changing junior and senior history curriculum. And under the status quo, we see older teachers have developed a sense of complacency within their positions. Their ideas and knowledge is outdated in modern times. And they've developed rigidity in their methods.
This is because older teachers have been teaching in their positions generally at the same school for decades. They don't see a threat to their position, which means they remain set in an outdated routine that they developed at the beginning of their careers many decades ago. They have no incentive to better themselves or their teaching methods or teach relevant knowledge and ideas due to the lack of threat in their position.
This is detrimental to us students who do find themselves with these teachers. They don't receive the best education possible, which is important to society because not only do we care about students, but they are the future in our careers, the future in our lives, and it's important that they receive the best education possible.
Students who are taught by new teachers that have graduated recently and haven't lost passion for their positions and they're willing to adapt to new curricula, methods, and technologies that older teachers struggle to adapt to that these students find themselves receiving a better education because relevant information is being delivered in the most effective and relevant way possible.
This is because of the teacher's age and the fact that they've recently graduated from university with a teaching degree, which means they've had recent education teaching on how to handle and teach kids in classroom environments. The adaptation of technology is especially important for teachers as to keep up with a modern society that is built on the consistent creation and advancement of technology.
Newer teachers are more competent with technology due to their age, generation, and upbringing compared to older teachers who often are lost and confused as they haven't had much experience with it and are reluctant to keep up.
Students taught by teachers who are less competent with the technology and are confused and usually don't implement it or implement it in a less effective way, these students are going to have to navigate it themselves or they're going to be unprepared when they enter a current computerised world, which we see in all positions, all job industries where technological abilities are a must to ensure your time in that position.
They'll enter a job market lacking the digital skills and confidence due to their education where older teachers were reluctant to keep up with modern technology, which was a detriment to their own technology. But with newer teachers that we see will fill the positions that older teachers will be leaving at 65 years old.
These newer teachers will be able to relate to their students due to a similarity in age. The common understanding that people who are similar in age and who are closer in generations proves this. Therefore, students will be able to also easily communicate with their teachers, and teachers will be able to easily communicate with their teachers.
And they'll be taught about relevant issues and knowledge and through effective methods that they've been recently taught in university and that have recently been proven to work than older teachers who teach with older methods that are outdated and were taught many decades ago and aren't relevant to a current generation. These new teachers, as I said, they will be able to relate to their students, communicate with their students, which is important because students deserve the best education they can. As I said, they are the future.
And this disparity between older and younger teachers that we can already see with the introduction of newer teachers and how the effect they're having on their students currently and how the effect oldest teachers are having on their students and the clear benefit of having a younger teacher for students because students will receive a more relevant education, as I said, in the best and most relevant way possible with knowledge that is current and updated along with the curriculum because their teachers aren't reluctant to change and aren't reluctant to keep up. This means that students will benefit, and this benefit is why I'm proud to affirm.
OCTAVIO ZAPATA CARBAJAL: Teaching is already an industry that is heavily lacking supply. So, panel, in tonight's debate, let me question you this. What world would you rather prefer, one where all the teachers are allowed to continue teaching for as long as they believe they are effective in the field and allowing them to continue teaching passionately in an environment they have been for decades with all that experience to help students learn to their best or a world that Af proposes where there is a complete lack of teachers altogether?
Because even if affirmative managed to prove that there is some loss of education under our side of the house, their side of the house is one where there is a hole in these teaching roles altogether. Teaching is not already a very high-supply industry. There's a reason we see strikes because there is not enough teachers to fill the roles currently.
Our side of the house stands for a world where under the worst-case scenario, we see slightly worse-off education rather the alternative that affirmative presents, which is that there is no teaching supply to fill these empty slots altogether.
In tonight's speech, three main points. Firstly, a principle on why it is actually unfair to do so. Secondly, a practical on why all the teachers do actually have unique benefits that are associated with them. And thirdly, a practical on why there are harms to the alternative which affirmative presents. Before I get into that, however, a bit of rebuttal.
So affirmative's entire case is contingent on their characterization of teachers, which is that, firstly, all teachers are going to be lazy, they're not going to want to learn, all that sort of characterization. And secondly, that the new teachers are not going to be lazy. They're suddenly going to have this passion to teach. They're going to want to do so.
There are numerous reasons why this is simply not true. Firstly, there are clear incentives outside of age for teachers to actually teach at the highest level that they can. First of all, obviously, if you are an incompetent teacher, if you refuse to do your job properly, you are going to get fired.
Secondly, there are student and parent complaints. If a teacher is continuously lazy in class, they are just simply going to have a complaint filed. And all the teachers must know this more than even younger teachers. And therefore, they are not likely to simply be lazy.
Secondly, there is something that the affirmative team has conveniently left out, which is that there is experience that comes with being an older teacher. And this sort of experience may outweigh any sort of the, quote-unquote, 'passion' that they cited fresh teachers have coming out of university.
Thirdly, we are not quite sure why there is a line drawn at specifically 65. It's not like teachers are going to be passionate until the age of 65 where they suddenly go, oh, I don't care about teaching anymore. Let me just drop off. This is unrealistic. And we don't see what happens. For example, how does the affirmative characterise middle-aged teachers? At what point does a teacher become, quote-unquote, 'lazy'?
And fourthly, even if all the teachers are not as-- outside of characterization of them being lazy, affirmative also presented characterization where they would be unable to keep up with education. We, under the Negative, are willing for the government to step in and provide free workshops where they can actually pick up these skills. And therefore, that's not necessarily a harm that we see.
So a bit of setup. What's the status quo right now? First of all, teachers are never forced purely because of their age to quit teaching. Given the choice to retire when they feel that they want to and they feel that they no longer perform, teachers are willing to do so. And additionally, if a teacher commits any other sort of violation, for example, refusing to go work, it is acceptable for them to be fired for this infraction.
And finally, teaching is a mental sort of profession. It's something that teachers are contracted to long-term. It's very different to other sorts of professions. For example, sport, where there is a direct link to age and physical performance, teaching is different to this. And therefore, we don't see a reason why they should be fired. And as I stated before, we are willing for the government to step in and provide any kind of free tech workshops, I guess, that teachers may need.
OK. Onto points. Principle. Why is it wrong morally and ethically speaking to remove teachers simply because of their age? Firstly, it's simply unfair for a few reasons. Firstly, we do not see this happen already under the status quo. Professors are allowed to teach as long as they want. They're not going to be removed for their age.
Second of all, again, you can point to things like the Age Discrimination Act for a reason that teachers should not get removed simply because they turn an arbitrary age of 65. Thirdly, there are professions where age does play a part, which we accept, for example, in physical professions such as sport. Ageing directly leads to physical decline, directly leads to worse performance.
However, in these cases, there is a sort of contract system in place anyway. It's not a long-term thing. And therefore, they're not analogous to each other. Secondly, the affirmatives, it's wrong because it's contingent on age directly affecting teaching performance. And for them to morally justify forcefully removing a teacher based on an arbitrary measure such as age, it is based on their performance being lowered as a direct result of age, which, as I have already clearly pointed out, is not the case, and I will continue to do so.
Now onto practical 1, which is why the quality of teaching under the status quo is actually improved by old teachers. And why do old teachers have a positive impact on the schooling system? And why are they likely to be of net benefit to the student body?
First of all, there are unique positives that older teachers bring. Firstly, I've already mentioned the sort of experience that these older teachers bring. They have decades of dealing with students. They have decades of being in that part of system. They understand what is best and how to execute it most effectively.
You can look at an example of an older, strict teacher being much, much more effective than the young, fresh-out-of-uni teacher at controlling a rowdy class. You can look at an experienced school counsellor who understands the unique struggles that a student might go through because they've been in that position for decades compared to a middle-aged or even fresh-out-of-uni counsellor who would not understand.
Secondly, it comes down to school culture. When you have that mix of older teachers and younger teachers, the older teachers are easily able to pass on that sort of school culture that is important to maintaining consistent education at a school. They're able to pass that on to the younger teachers. Under the affirmative side of the house, this is simply non-existent because once they reach the age of 65, boom, they're gone. You cannot pass on that culture.
Second of all, the education itself. There are clear examples where experience actually helps in that field. There are certain subjects where teachers are not constrained or made worse by age but rather improved.
For example, an older, wiser philosophy teacher with a better understanding of the world is able to better help students. They have more knowledge compared to this young, again, fresh-out-of-uni teacher. And they are probably still going to be able to continue teaching at a high level, not to the point where it's deemed OK to remove them.
Third of all, we can see under the status quo that when a teacher feels that they are no longer good in their particular field, when they are no longer able to teach at that high level, they are likely to leave already. A few reasons for that.
Firstly, teaching is hard and does not pay well. If an old teacher is struggling to actually attend class, if they are of that age, they are going to take two options. They are going to, one, cut down their hours, reduce their hours to the point where they're actually able to continue teaching at that high level, or, two, they're simply going to retire altogether, which leads on to, secondly, if they're staying for that long, it probably means they are extremely passionate about the subject.
If you're willing to teach well into your 70s, you are going to be extremely passionate about that subject. And it's likely to mean that you're going to teach well. Otherwise, you would simply just retire. What does this mean? It means that, A, under our side of the house, older teachers have clear, unique positives that cannot be matched by affirmative side of the house.
And second of all, if they no longer do bring these sorts of unique, positive benefits, they are already going to quit anyway. They're going to retire, which means that there is no need to force them out of that position.
Onto second piece of practical, which is that the quality on the affirmative side of the house is actually worse. Why does affirmative get worse results when it comes to teaching? Why are the alternatives worse? Firstly, because even if there's less incentive, there's going to be much less incentive to join teaching, to begin with.
They're going to know that there's a hard cap in teaching and this does not exist in other industries. And this is especially important when it comes to people who are on the fence about studying and going into teaching as a profession. They are likely to simply go, no, I want to work for longer. I want to earn more money. I'm not going to teach.
And there are already extremely problematic sides to the teaching industry. They get too many hours. There's too much admin work. There's a lack of supply. There hasn't been a pay rise in decades. This is all proved by the sorts of strikes that we've seen lately. So if there's already this lack of incentive and now teachers are given even less incentive to join, what does this mean?
It means that even if all the teachers are not the best, we find a world where there is actually a decent amount of teachers preferable to a world where there is a true, clear lack of teachers because, again, they have less incentive to join teaching as a whole. This means that there's going to be much more work for those that do stay or that the bar for teaching is going to be lowered overall. And that is why I'm very, very, very proud to negate.
CALLUM BELGROVE: So I would like to start off my speech today by pointing out some holes in the opposition's case. So first of all, I'd like to point out a major flaw in logic that we see with the opposition with their characterization of exactly how many jobs are available in terms of teaching.
So they've come out and said that teaching is lacking supply. And we do agree with part of this statement. We agree that it's lacking supply of jobs, not supply of teachers. But we even see the fact that the opposition actually agrees with us when later on during their speech, first negative says that there is a complete lack of hours in teaching and also a lack of pay.
Now, I'll get to the lack of pay later on in my substantive. But for the lack of hours, we see that both teams are on agreeance that teaching is significantly lacking in the department of jobs than in the department of supply. Let me just rephrase this.
In addition, they also came out and said that there are already tech workshops in place and there's already methods in place for teachers to gain upskilling over the course of time. We simply agree with the fact that there are workshops in place. While we don't necessarily see that teachers are able to develop their skills through these workshops because of inter-generational differences, we see the fact that some teachers might be from, as they've said, generations ago, so perhaps 30, 40 years.
And they may not necessarily be able to take these new techniques and put them into a classroom setting, which is a major point that we'll be dealing with in my speech and also down the entire bench, which is the inability for older teachers to perhaps modernise and to lead to more developed systems of teaching.
Yeah. We also see it as an odd bit of counter modelling. But we, first of all, hardly take this as contingent with experience. As we say, the simple fact that experience breeds a sort of dogma in terms of if it was done well in the past, it can be done well by doing the exact same thing. But we don't necessarily see that doing the exact same thing over time is actually beneficial for any amount of students.
They additionally said there was the fact that there was incentives for older teachers to be up to date. They have financial security. They have their jobs. We have the fact that they're continually employed. We don't see these incentives very strongly.
I'd also like to point out something very briefly that they brought up, which was the idea that teachers are naturally resigning at a natural age and that we don't need to force this process. We simply disagree with this. We see the fact that teachers are staying in their positions for an exorbitantly long amount of time because their jobs are cosy, because there is no regular review of teaching or the quality of standards.
They also said we see that, from the strikes, there isn't enough teachers. We disagree with the statement because we see one of the major purposes of the strike, one of which was pay, the other of which was the fact that there was not enough teaching jobs available compared to the overall amount of teachers. So the supply of teachers is too big and the supply of teaching jobs is too small as a bit of summarization.
They also said it's not morally justified to retrench older teachers. Now, whether or not there's morality in firing someone is a completely different matter. But what we do see is the fact that from a utilitarian perspective, there is greater morality in improving the education and well-being of students, both in mental health and in practical terms of school, than simply retrenching teachers who are no longer doing an effective job at teaching.
They also said that older teachers pass on knowledge to younger teachers. We see that they are passing on knowledge, but we don't necessarily agree that this knowledge is of the greatest relevancy. We see the fact that by passing on knowledge, they are passing on dogma which they've learned throughout the course of their life, which happens to be effective with them at the time when they're learning it but not necessarily continually so.
We see that they've characterised experience as something that is inherently positive. And whilst we do not deny that, we also don't agree that it is all benefits, all sunshine and roses. We see the fact that experience can lead to doing the exact same thing over and over again like, for example, me repeating the definition of experience. I will now move on to my substantive.
So I have three major points today. The first one is on mental health and the effect that different age brackets have upon mental health. My second is upon the economics of how exactly our model is going to improve the economic situation in the teaching market. And my third is upon the improvement of the teachers' workplace.
So first of all, mental health. Currently, we see that there are many teachers who are at a significantly older age bracket than their students. We see that for the students, the teachers are hard to approach. They're hard to talk to. And more importantly, they have values which fundamentally differ from the students that there are today.
It is no great statement to say the fact that older generations tend to have more stoic values when it comes to mental health, when it comes to the role of the individual in terms of expressing themselves versus the stiff upper lip.
So we see that it's highly damaging for students to have what should be their emotional port of call at a school be completely negligent of them and not willing to go and accept their cause because of the idea that one must simply tough it out, or from the student point of view, the student saying that they cannot approach the teacher because the teacher will simply tell them, just tough it out, and just not care for them.
Now, why is this negative? Well, this is negative because one of the major-- so why do we care about this? We care about this because the students who are suffering with mental illness are unlikely to take strong, independent action as one of the major things that characterise a mental illness is the fact that you don't think you are mentally ill and the fact that for whatever reason, lack of energy, lack of motivation, you're not willing to go and put yourself into a situation in which you have to go speak to a teacher who is very old in terms of their personal values and generational differences.
I'd like to explain very quickly why there are these generational differences just to counter the negative before they say it. So generational differences are just from different in upbringing. And we see the generational differences actually do exist by the very nature of there being generations. We see that generations only have clear start and end points by difference in cultural values. So we see that with different cultural values, teachers will respond differently to students.
Now, on to my second point, which is my economic points, we see that in this competitive job market, there is a chronic shortage of positions but an overabundance of labour. In order to rectify this, we will cut the educational wheat from the chaff, which is highly beneficial economically for the teachers. Now, why is that?
Well, that's for the simple reason that by cutting down the amount of people that are actually available in the labour pool, we're increasing the demand for that individual amount of labour. So we're getting rid of the amount of teachers that are possibly going for every single position by removing these teachers who are more incompetent due to that dogma of experience and instead having this younger generation of innovative teachers come up through the ranks and get these positions.
In addition, while getting these positions, they'll also be getting higher pay. Why? Because the demand for each individual teacher will go up because obviously, there's less labour to go around. Schools are going to be effectively putting more money to get more labour.
Now, under the status quo, recent discourses circulated regarding the injustice of teachers' wages and how it does not correspond to the input of labour. We see two dynamics which causes issue. So first of all, there's the government's reluctance to invest more in the sector that creates education, which is teachers.
And second of all, there's the disproportionate quantity of teachers in the amount of positions. We see that this is rectifying the second of those problems by ensuring to cut down the overall amount of teachers.
Now, additionally, I would like to move on to my third point, which is the workplace and why exactly cutting down on this older, entrenched, educationist old guard will help improve innovation at schools. So by adding in more like-minded teachers, more useful teachers who are from a younger generation, we see that they are more likely to seek innovation and digitization because these are things that they've grown up with and these are things that they've been exposed to their entire life within their schools.
And then they're no longer being outnumbered in terms of the direct composition of school teaching bodies. It'll now be this new generation of teachers rather than this really entrenched older generation of teachers. So what is the benefit for everybody? So the benefit for the younger teachers is obviously the fact that they're able to feel more included at the workplace. Their ideas will be heard at a greater level.
And the benefit for the students is the fact that they're bringing more innovation towards the workplace. And by workplace, I mean school. So bringing more innovation in terms of digitising classrooms, in terms of ensuring that lessons are presented in an innovative manner.
So just a quick example. What exactly does this look like in practise? We see that under the current status quo, we have situations where you have drab, dreary boardrooms in which nothing particularly entertaining is happening for everyone and the last unique thought had happened 35 years ago.
We see, however, that under our model, we have a situation where there is a new generation of innovation being brought up throughout the ranks and into these meeting settings to ensure that the school's direction as a whole is moving forward rather than just continually repeating the same thing being in line with their experience, which in the past was good. And for all of these reasons, I'm extraordinarily proud to affirm.
ABRAR CHOWDHURY: Ladies and gentlemen, when teachers had to continually strike like they did last Tuesday because they weren't being compensated adequately for teaching, that was a huge, huge red flag for skilled aspiring teachers because while they may be passionate about teaching, knowing that the pay will rise in 20 years, knowing that they will be cut off from long vacations, knowing that there will be also long, long hours, knowing that their trade unions and the people to speak for them are becoming increasingly less powerful with huge disincentives which told them they should not pursue teaching, what that meant were that the people who were going into teaching now weren't the most skilled people possible.
Rather, they were less qualified substitutes for those teachers. And that meant that older teachers were becoming increasingly valuable in the workplace because they came from a time where pay was fair. They came from a time where skilled teachers did have strong incentives to pursue that career. That was why we keep older teacher in schools. That was why we were so, so proud to negate.
A few things I'll be doing in this speech. First of all, two clashes of rebuttal. The first is on the quality of teaching, what happens after you implement the opposition's model. Second of all, I'll be going into the theme on whether these teachers will be able to adapt to the changing technology and curriculum. And finally, I'll have a piece of substantive on why their side of the house legitimises stigmas against old teachers, why that was particularly harmful and unfair.
Now, on to the first theme of rebuttal which I had in tonight's debate, which is about quality of teaching. Now, a few things they tell you here. The first thing they tell you is that all teachers grow complacent in their positions. Because they've been there for a while, they feel like they're quite stable there.
Few things to say here. First of all, these people tend to be quite passionate about their jobs because after all, teaching involves a lot of days where you have a sore throat after you come from home. It includes a lot of sacrifices such as having to mark papers over your break. That meant that the teachers who are going into these positions most of the times were quite passionate about their jobs. They were willing to make sure that their students got the best marks possible.
Second of all, teachers were accountable for two reasons. First of all, there was parent pressure. Parents would be upset if their child's got bad results. Their children complain about their teachers. Teachers would get complaints that probably was an incentive for them to do better.
Second of all, there are school pressures. Schools look at the performances that individual teachers have. If a teacher is not doing well, they will get graded. On top of that, the third response is say here is that there are often promotions and financial incentives for teachers to pursue getting better marks for their students.
And the final thing to say here is, for the reasons I gave to you at the start in my intro, replacements were always, always going to be worse comparatively in the old teachers that you had in the status quo. Now, the next thing they told you here is that quality of teaching rises. Why wasn't that true?
Three reasons. First of all, since they get no pay rises and people do see the strikes that are on the media, qualified teaching staff go away. Qualified prospective teachers go away. I've already talked to this. Second of all, desperation to fill these spots means that schools will often go to less qualified teachers.
Third of all, these teachers often had experience. They knew how to deal with kids because when a junior graduate came in to replace an old teacher with 20 years of experience, they would have no idea how to deal with 30 screaming babies in that class.
Now, the next thing they talk about is-- now, the next [inaudible] they make here quite boldly is that there is an increase in supply of teachers in the status quo. Few responses here. First of all, there was decrease in pay in the status quo. I've already told you about this. There was decrease in-- sorry, or stagnant pay rises.
Second of all, there was decrease in power of trading unions. That was another reason for people to not pursue these careers because there was no one to speak up for their rights. On top of this, there were other alternatives given the rise of technology and the internet. You had to look at other alternatives such as online tutoring, which often paid higher rates and were far, far more flexible than having to drag yourself to school every single morning at 7:00 AM.
And then the final thing to say here is that they even conceded that second speaker when they were talking about the part, when they were talking about the strikes that teachers were striking to some extent because there was a decreased supply of teachers. There were less people to fill in for them. That was a pretty big succession because it meant that they compromised one of the strongholds that they had in tonight's debate.
Now, the next thing they say here is that teachers have an inability to modernise because of intergenerational differences. Few responses here. First of all, teaching is not entirely changing based on the present. Why was it true? Because first of all, subjects stay the same to a great degree.
Look at math. Math hasn't changed in 200 years. Sure, the syllabus has changed at some bits. But it is at a pace where teachers can keep up with it because the Department of Education doesn't want to throw really big changes at teachers that they cannot keep up with.
And second of all, teachers do not need to fully accommodate every single aspect of the students' experience. What they have to do is make sure that their students receive the content. The students can then process that information in a way that is proper for them.
And finally, even if teachers were that bad, they would probably get fired anyways. You did not have to arbitrarily discriminate on the basis of age. Rather, you could do it on other things such as the quality of education these teachers have. And the final thing to say under this massive thing is that they said that all teachers cannot keep up-- sorry.
Now moving on to the next thing, which I have in tonight's debate, which is about whether old teachers will be able to keep up with changing technologies. What did they tell you? First of all, they said that modern technology rapidly evolves. It is quite hard to keep up with. What do we tell you? Few responses.
First of all, there are often tonnes of retraining programmes that teachers can pursue. And we did believe that old teachers tended to be more passionate for the reasons I gave to you before. They were willing to take the leap to adapt to new learning processes.
The second thing to say here is-- and I've already talked to you about this before-- parents and schools do hold teachers accountable. Schools often fire teachers if they are not up to standards. And they do not want parents to set complaints because that often sets a bad rep for these teachers.
And the final thing to say here is-- and I've already talked to you about this before, and I'll whip it up again. It's that teachers do get promotions if they do well. That was a big financial incentive for them to adapt to the changing curriculum.
And the final thing to say here is that even if there were to be marginally worse, the uni students that were coming in were going to be far less equipped to deal with the work. They didn't have any experiences. And on top of that, teaching quality was likely to degrade over time. That was why teachers would be able to adapt to modern technology.
Now, the next thing they say here is that the curriculum always changes. Few responses here. First of all, these teachers have been in the industry for years. When they came in, when they were like-- I don't know-- 30 years old, they had to adapt to curriculum changes when they were young.
In fact, if anything, comparatively, under our side of the house, teachers have gone through formal curriculum changes than brand new young teachers that come into the workplace that do not know how to adapt to the new curriculum.
The second thing to say here is-- and I've already told you about this before-- there are not massive curriculum changes because particularly in humanities such as languages, such as history, the content that you teach in those subjects do not change massively over time. Rather, the way that content is delivered does change.
And then the final thing to say here is, let's be comparative here. Under their side of the house, these young teachers that are coming in are going to be comparatively far worse because all the qualified aspiring teachers are scared away with a decreasing standard of living that teachers have in the status quo.
Now I'm going to quickly move into some [inaudible] on why they legitimise stigmas against old teachers. Why was that true? A few reasons. First of all, it is social messaging from the government. When the government steps in and kicks out these teachers, that does legitimise the viewpoint that these teachers are trash.
Second of all, they are seen as inferiors in the workplace if people are getting kicked out. And it links back to that social messaging point. And finally, since there was no old people to speak up for other old people, that means that old people were far less likely to step up for their rights. For these reasons, we are so, so proud to negate.
AVA ROBERTS: OK. So before I get down to my themes that I found in this debate and before I get down to my big issues that we have with the negative team's case, I would just like to pick some of these smaller issues that we have seen come up throughout this debate and engage in some miscellaneous rebuttal.
So the second negative speaker came out and said that there are currently incentives in place so that they don't get fired because we are incentivizing these older teachers to keep working well, keep pushing it because otherwise, they're out of a job.
So as I will discuss within my themes, these teachers already have a superannuation fund. They already have the promise of a pension. They will already have financial retribution that you will get if you are fired. So we see that that's not a financial issue for them.
And we also see that a lot of these teachers, there's a sense of loyalty within their profession. So you see that you've been working with this one principal for like 40 years, he's not then going to be like, listen, you've let yourself go. You've dropped your game. You're out on the streets. That's just not realistic. That's not going to happen.
They have also conceded that teaching changes over time. When they were trying to say that, no, because the curriculum stays the same, they literally said that the way things are taught change. And it is for that reason that we need to keep bringing in these younger, better teachers.
They raise the subject of maths and saying that that doesn't change and that that's stayed the same for 200 years. That is one subject. We see that in the past five years or so, our history curriculum has undergone massive changes as the government have decided, maybe we shouldn't just treat Aboriginal people as savages when we're teaching our children about them. And it is those sort of things that we see the issue is when we come to these older teachers.
They also raise the idea of the strike a lot. They have completely mischaracterized the reasons behind the teacher strike on Tuesday last week. And we need to make it absolutely clear that there is not a shortage of teachers. There are too many teachers, and there is a shortage of positions, which is why our model absolutely must go ahead.
So, ladies and gentlemen, we have got up here today, and we have presented a model that stimulates the values of the job market, better prepares our future generations for a technological world, results in better overall education for students, better teacher-pupil connections, and dramatically boosts the potential for job security for our newest entries into the job market in the education sector.
What the negative team are trying to do is strip away all of these potential benefits to society for the sake of a handful of mediocre, unpassionate, and disconnected teachers. And we cannot allow them to demolish the enormous upgrades to our education system and general society that our model provides.
So I thought that there were three main questions that came up in this debate. So first off, will students' education see a benefit, a detriment, or remain unchanged under our model? The second is, who deserves to be our priority, younger teachers or older teachers? And our third is, is it fair for us to kick these teachers out of positions that they may have held for decades?
So on to that first theme of what is the benefit, detriment, or just remaining unchanged to the students' education. So we have come out here since first speaker, and we have stated that younger teachers are better for students for three main reasons.
First off, younger teachers are better equipped to incorporate modern technology into the classroom. This is good because we have a world that relies on modern technology. So if we are keeping these students holed up in a classroom where they're writing on a textbook, looking at work off a material whiteboard, they are then going to go out in the job market, and they're going to be like, I'm not prepared to coexist with technology in a studious, in a working way.
We have also said that younger teachers are likely to be more passionate. We would like to mechanise this through saying when a teacher enters into the teaching profession, the vast majority of times, they do that because they are passionate, because they want to make the world a better place. And a lot of them see themselves as having almost a vocation.
So we see that then when teachers are young and they enter into this market, they have got all of those thoughts fresh in their mind. But then jump forward 60 years or so, they're 80 years old. They've been teaching for their entire lifetime. They hate children. And it's just a mess. And they don't have that passion, which makes them more disconnected and less likely to push themselves.
We've also said that students are more likely to relate to and trust younger teachers, resulting in the formation of healthier, stronger teacher-pupil bonds, which benefit students as it not only improves their mental being as we see that teachers are a figure that we are very much encouraged to go to if we're struggling with mental health because they are a trusted adult, but it also makes them likely to be more engaged in class and to be more engaged in their lessons, and it benefits their education.
So the negative team's big idea under this whole theme of what's the benefit to students' education is that older teachers are more experienced and therefore better in some way. And so we have two main points of rebuttal for this, which is why that point simply does not stand.
So first and foremost, experience pales in comparison to the value of passion, to the value of an ability to relate and connect with students, and the incorporation of modern methods and technology in the classroom. So we see that this experience point is really just a vague sort of-- it's good-- whereas we have shown you concrete benefits under our side of the house.
But you know what? Even if we ignore this and we say, yeah, experience is the be-all and end-all of teaching, then that raises the question of how we expect teachers to gain experience when all the points of entry into teaching are being hogged by these teachers that are technology-repulsed and have held their position for years.
So even if we accept that the experience held by all the teachers has a great benefit to students' education, by allowing all the teachers to continue to monopolise the majority of positions, the negative team are basically backing themselves into a corner where, for now, there's plenty of experience. It's great stuff.
But we look forward to 10, 15 years, and we have teachers with very little experience because they lost opportunities when they were young because those opportunities were staying with older teachers. So no matter which way you frame it, our model sees a great benefit to students' education, which takes me to my second theme of who do we deserve to prioritise. Should we prioritise our young teachers or our older teachers?
So throughout this debate, we have characterised our older teachers as having built themselves up to a position of financial stability with a superannuation fund tucked away, a well-padded savings account, and the promise of a pension, and a relaxing post-retirement life ahead. They may not represent, say, the wealthy elite, but they are certainly comfortable, and that's what matters whereas our younger teachers are just entering into an incredibly competitive job market.
They are likely renters without the same assets tucked away as senior teachers. And they have the promise of HECS debt looming over them as soon as they finally start earning a big enough wage to have the potential of eventual financial stability. But the negative team have basically come up here and said old people are still valuable people in our society, which we will agree with.
We do not see that there is a need to prioritise them over the younger generations. However, let's say we do. Let's say we do say, yeah, prioritise older teachers over younger teachers. Even if we do concede that they deserve our concerns, teachers are only one of the key stakeholders of this debate. So we have to bring the needs of the others into consideration.
We have proven throughout our case and confirmed in my previous theme that younger teachers benefit students not only in their education but also in their preparedness to enter a digitalized job market and their overall mental well-being. These students make up the future of our society, meaning that the better adjusted and better educated they are, the better adjusted and better educated society will be looking ahead a few years.
Therefore, when we prioritise younger teachers, we benefit not only our students but also broader society. So even if there are a few oldies which are going to be out of a job and are going to be a bit sad, we have no choice but to go with our model, which leads me to my very last theme.
So the negative team raised an idea that it was unfair for affirmative team to kick teachers out of their jobs based on an arbitrary factor. But you see, this factor is far from arbitrary. Both my first and second speakers have shown why older teachers present a detriment to students. From an incapacity or unwillingness to use and interact with newer technology to a generational divide, this is not an arbitrary discriminational act.
We also need to remind the opposition that we are not leaving these teachers with no money and no prospect, as I have said all throughout my previous theme. So we say, no, this isn't unfair. But even if it is unfair, it does not negate the massive benefits that come to having a younger workforce, that come to having younger, more passionate, better teachers. And it is for that reason that I am incredibly proud to affirm. Thank you.
LANDRIE ZUO: Ladies and gentlemen, there is a reason why university fees for teaching have decreased significantly in the past few years. There's a reason why teachers went on strike on Tuesday because of their overworking hours. This is because it's a significant supply problem in the teaching chain.
And what this means is, the opposition is essentially supporting a world where some schools will have no teachers with subjects at all. And this is comparatively worse than any marginal quality of education claim they can claim.
In today's debate, I saw two main themes. First of all, a really big theme on the quality of education. And second of all, about the supply and demand of teachers. So on to my first theme about the quality of education. And this is the most important theme we believe in tonight's debate.
So the status quo right now, what it looks like, we established this on first speaker is that there's a blend of old and young teachers, mostly young and some old teachers as well. So what the opposition said today is that under the status quo, teachers are reluctant to adapt. They're not likely to be passionate when they're old. They have no incentives to actually work harder because they've got so much pension and superannuation. They're incompetent at technology, et cetera.
So I'll break this down to three areas. Firstly, can they adapt to new curricula? Second of all, about modernization. And third of all, about student relationships, et cetera. First of all, why are these teachers still likely to adapt and care about these students? First of all-- and this came up as second as well-- parents and students hold teachers accountable.
Why is this? Two main reasons. First of all, there's the results factor. When a parent gets a report back and the student does so poorly because of this teacher, they're likely to complain to the school. Second of all, students are likely to care about their own learning if it is so obvious that the teacher is hindering their learning.
So what does this look like afterwards? Schools and principals have significant pressure to answer to the students, et cetera. And why? First of all, they have a responsibility to answer to the students and parents as that is what the school is for.
Second of all, it is for enrollment. If there's a heavy news about the incompetency of the teachers of their system, there will be less enrollment. Hence, if the teachers are performing so poorly, they'll be sacked in the first place.
Second of all, about passion. So the opposition talked about how these teachers have so much security and financial security, et cetera. Two main responses for this. First of all, if they are old and hate children, why are they still willing to work in the teaching industry? It is most likely because they have some form of passion.
Second of all, the pension and superannuation that they get, it's significantly lower than what they will earn if they're actually in work. Why is this? In superannuation, you get about 10% of your yearly pay. That is way less than if you just work another five years. You'll pay way more.
Now, comparatively, why are teachers still passionate? First of all, we talked about this in first as well. It is a hard job. In spite of all the low pay, long hours, et cetera, they're still working at this age. And thus teachers who would still teach at this high age are likely to be passionate about teaching.
Third of all, we talked about this at second. Good performances lead to promotion. And this is another money incentive for these teachers to actually care about what they teach. Now, under the second sub point under this, so how are teachers able to modernise under the-- are they able to modernise?
So three main responses for this. First of all, teachers, old or young, have had about two years of lockdown training. And in lockdown, they had to deliver these lessons online. And we see them as somewhat competent with technology after this period.
Second of all, as we said at first and it is already in the status quo that there are options for teachers to go to workshops and improve their teaching skills. Third of all, this is likely an exaggeration by the opposition. Teachers who are old are not totally incompetent in technology to the point where the lesson cannot progress. And we do not see the methods of textbook learning, et cetera to be too much worse than teaching using technology.
And even if they cannot adapt to this teaching, they still have more valuable skills than just technology. And what does this look like? This looks like experience in learning and in teaching. And what does this actually mean? When you have years and years of experience of teaching a curriculum or in an area, you have more general knowledge about this area than any replacement can ever have.
Second of all, with experience comes knowledge about classroom control, how to control the classroom, how to have better connections with your students. And now this leads to the whole point they brought up about mental health and student connections. So why are student connections actually worse under their side?
Older teachers have had more experience teaching students and have more students, more cohorts that they have [inaudible]. What this meant is, naturally, they have more experience of connecting with students and teaching students. Comparatively, you get these younger placements straight out of university, learning textbook, et cetera, and they did not have the same level of skills that these older teachers have under their experience. And that is something that is really important as they talked about.
Finally, even if they're not the best student connections and the students' mental health is not that good, it is still not 100% their responsibility for the students' mental health. There are other outlets such as school counsellors, et cetera for these students to seek help. Now, why are these teachers-- so a bit of comparative here. Why are these old teachers comparatively better than any young replacement that the opposition achieved under their side?
First of all, younger teachers, yes, they have come just out of university. And what they lack is experience. And why is experience so important? First of all, university does not actually teach you all the skills, all the non-measurable skills that are required as a teacher.
This includes classroom control, how to actually teach the material effectively across students, and how to actually effectively teach a curriculum. And so what this means is that younger teachers do not have the same level of experience as these older teachers and cannot achieve the same level of education.
Second of all, these younger teachers without these older teachers are less likely to gain the experience and guidance they need. So under the status quo, younger teachers can learn from these older teachers how to control classrooms, how to effectively teach. But as under the opposition, it will be a bunch of uni students straight out of uni going to teach students. And this is, overall, a less effective environment.
So even if the current teachers are not the best, even if they lack a little bit of passion, they're still better than any replacements that the opposition can claim as these younger teachers are straight out of university, won't learn a curriculum that the university taught them, and do not have the experience to actually adapt if required.
So quickly onto my second theme about the supply and demand of teachers. So under their side, they said there's excess supply and lack of demand. So as I already said in my intro, there is a reason why teachers strike. There's a reason why uni fees have gone down for these jobs. This is because there's a lack of supply among the teachers. That's why these teachers have to work longer hours, et cetera, and have to strike for the government to recognise this.
And there are other reasons why there's a lack of teaching. First of all, there's low pay. There's long hours. They have to mark in their spare time. And this is probably not the best learning environment you can achieve. Third of all, the opposition has really presented no mechanisms for why there'll be more teachers under their side of the house, why there'll be more young people willing to go into uni courses, et cetera.
Comparatively, under their side of the house, what will actually likely happen is that there'll be less people entering these university teaching courses because they know there's a salary cap to what they can achieve as they know when they get to 65 years old, they'll be sacked. And so this is obviously comparatively worse than other industries where there is no mandatory retirement age.
Second of all, dying subjects like languages and some humanities, et cetera have no young replacements who are willing to come in and teach these subjects. Hence, why we win this is, at the end of the day, the opposition will achieve a future where there are some subjects, such as languages, et cetera, who have no teachers at all. And it is better to have some teachers who may not be the best than have no teachers. And that's why I'm proud to negate.
JAMES SMITH: OK. Firstly, ladies and gents, we'd like to, as a panel, just congratulate both sides in today's debate for an excellently contested debate. We thought there was a lot of really good stuff going on, and it's worthy of a final. We just thought a couple of pieces of feedback were really important for both teams here.
So the first thing that we would say is that both teams skimped a little bit on their examples when they were delivering them today. So there was plenty of characterization work where there was a lot of attempts to characterise. We would note two things about that.
The first thing is, if you want to characterise successfully, you need to actually make sure that you break down those big groups into a bunch of different use cases or a bunch of different types of people that you might see in those groups. If you don't do that, it's hard for us to believe that all of these different types of people actually exist.
The second one would be that if we don't see actual examples, probably impacted into the classroom, in this case, because it's an education debate, it's harder to believe a particular side to the story. One of the other things that we might do is just quickly have a look at a group that was missing or fell outside of this debate.
And that was that we had a tendency to either describe teachers as old people, as a bunch of ancient Methuselah people that never wanted to change versus a bunch of university students on the negative side. We thought both of those characterizations were slightly less charitable than they needed to be in this debate.
And most importantly, a bunch of teachers that were sitting in the late 20s to 50s age group fell outside of this debate and were never discussed. And we think they probably formed probably the majority in this case. So we'd say that those are the pieces of feedback we want people to actually work on.
In terms of having a look at the debate itself, the first thing was that both teams agreed that schools need to innovate. So they need to modernise where possible and that there was some degree of advantage that you get from that modernization process.
So essentially, team affirmative says old people can't teach technology. They're stoic. And they don't care about mental health. And they have personal values and generational differences that mean that those things are the case. They suggest in contextualization of this topic that there are hardly any disincentives in the status quo. So there's not many reviews of conduct or performance. And they suggest to the idea that there is a lack of jobs in the profession, and that is causing us some degree of drama.
So both teams wanted to use this strike material, and I'll talk about how negative then characterises that now. Negative comes out straight away at first and says that these problems are caused by a lack of supply, that is, that we have an undersupply of teachers. And they also suggested that that meant that we needed to make sure that there were as many teachers in the profession as possible.
They said that we can train teachers up. They said that teaching is just not a great profession, that there's too much admin work. It's super hard. And there's entrenched lack of incentives to actually stay in the profession other than actually caring about educational outcomes. Let's just quickly have a look at where both teams tried to characterise in context what the natures of the problems inherent in teaching were.
So essentially, team affirmative wanted to tell us that there's not enough jobs. Team negative wanted to tell us that there's not enough people. As a panel, we thought that the evidence to suggest that there weren't enough people was probably more compelling and more logical overall.
Firstly, it is empirically true that there aren't enough teachers going out there. And that was one of the reasons for the strike. But we thought, as a panel, that there were plenty of reasons given to us by the negative to say that teaching wasn't a great profession that was particularly attractive. And that does have some degree of bearing on the debate.
That said, let's have a look at some of the main issues. The first one is, does age equal performance? The affirmative tells us, yes, it does. They tell us that's true because there are new methods, there are new life views, not stoic views, as I mentioned before. And they basically say that ultimately, your age means that you become disenfranchised with this profession.
Third, affirmative actually describes this as, after a while, you simply just hate kids and probably should retire. They actually tell us on the negative that when it comes down to it, you have more degrees of diversity in your experience in response to this. We would have liked that unpacked a little bit more just to tell us what type of experiences you had.
But we thought it probably held. Maybe not necessarily that younger university kids have to struggle looking after a classroom of 30 babies as they put it out. But rather, we thought it generally held that teachers with a little bit of experience had some value in this.
What they said actually in response though was that there are some actual benefits with an old hand. So that is courses like philosophy, courses like maths. These types of elements in the syllabus that don't get changed that often meant that there was a degree to where older teachers were going to have some significant value over younger teachers.
Both teams concede that there are some good teachers even at the top end. The affirmative does concede that there are some good old teachers, but they just suggest that makes up a small amount. We were suggesting by the end of this first issue that there wasn't necessarily a correlation between age and performance overall. And there was enough evidence to suggest that indeed there was some advantage with older teachers.
Though, let's have a look at the idea of increasing student performance because this was the next idea. The affirmative tells us that it does increase student performance because innovation is good. Most of this material is talking about the idea of a digitised workforce, that is, that kids need to learn how to use technology. And so technology-enabled education was going to be the best way for us to get there.
Their best material in this, though, is probably some of the constructed ideas of teaching. So that was that they tell us that basically, there's less older people staying in jobs due to things like friendly principals. And so there's going to be more of an incentive to get better jobs.
This material speaks to some of their other problems they pointed to at the very start of this case, which was looking at whether there are enough reviews on teaching, whether there are enough checks and balances that meant that we could cut some of the chaff out of teaching itself.
We were really, really interested in the idea of people not getting reviewed as much due to friendly principals. We think that this was probably one of the undercooked elements of this debate and probably could have been a really good element that the affirmative discussed more. It did come out at the tail end of second speaker. And so it made it hard for us to actually evaluate that material.
We thought it was possible by the end of that. But we also thought that it needed to be balanced against some of the other things that do exist in teaching, things like what the negative was saying, parents actually reviewing kids and checking their performance. We thought that they probably on balance held this type of profession to some kind of account.
The neg did come out really strongly though and give us two reasons why this probably wouldn't increase student performance. The first one was, they said that this is going to entrench a problem. So it's yet another disincentive to actually enter teaching in the first place. So people are already looking at their exit as soon as they're looking at their entry.
And this was actually talked about quite consistently on team negative though it was articulated differently from each speaker. We think they probably could have done a better job to do that. But nevertheless, we thought it held.
We thought that also the negative makes a strong first principal case that basically said you really shouldn't do this if you don't do it to every other workforce. There is no physical need for you to do this. In the case where we thought, as a panel, they could prove that it was possible that these people could continue their jobs. In the case where the affirmative actually conceded that it was possible, that meant that the affirmative needed to prove some really big structural harms in terms of current existing status quo harms.
So just on the third issue, which is the really simple one, which is the education outcomes on the whole. We thought that the affirmative does a good job to try and tell us that we needed to be prepared for a digital workforce. We think the negative is very clever when they concede that that is true.
But they are also very, very clever when they tell us all of these specific examples about how teachers have adapted, how there's professional development available, how teachers can be upskilled. And all of those things meant that they probably didn't deserve to lose their jobs. But mostly, this argument falls to the idea that there are also some very strong reasons that people don't go into these professions currently. Being underpaid and overworked, some of the ones that they actually talked about.
And so because of that, we thought that this might present another structural barrier to stop people getting into teaching, which would mean that there would be a further supply issue caused. And so in a unanimous decision, we did award this debate to the negative side. Congratulations to both sides.
TONY DAVEY: Excellent timing. Thank you, James. And thanks to the adjudicators, all of you. Very difficult decision after a cracking debate. I'm going to call upon a representative of the unlucky Smiths Hill team to congratulate our winners today.
VICTORIA STEWARD: We would like to congratulate Sydney Boys for a great debate today. And we hope the best for your future endeavours in debating. We also think that some thank-yous are in order. So, Ms. Doyle, thank you for coaching us throughout and supporting us, the adjudicators for sparing your time today, as well as Justine and Tony, Arts Unit for facilitating this debate, and Sydney Boys themselves. Thank you.
TONY DAVEY: Thank you, Smiths Hill. That's very kind. And, of course, I'm going to call upon a representative of the Sydney Boys team, our 2021 champions, to respond.
AGASTYA GOVIND: Yeah. I'd just like to thank Smiths Hill for a really close and fun debate. Thank you for the adjudicators to come out here and give up their time to watch our debate. And thank you to the audience for giving up their time and watching us.
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