The photo report of the Oxford Debates Competition entitled "The Warsaw Uprising made sense" - January 26, 2017
In November 2016 together with the 2nd High School in Warsaw named after Stefan Batory started preparations to the Oxford debates competition entitled "The Warsaw Uprising made sense". Warsaw high schools were invited to participate in the event. This was the first time when Warsaw hosted this particular competition in the Oxford debate-style.
An Oxford debate has a strict formula. Its aim is to discuss a precise thesis. Thesis supporters and thesis antagonists argue. A room in which such a debate takes place is divided into two parts. Opposite debate members sit on both sides of a debate leader whose task is to agree to speak.
The thesis supporters begin the discussion. Then opponents take the floor. Each team consists of four speakers. Subsequent speeches last up to four minutes. The final decisions are made by the Jury and the expert. Each juror has points to distribute among both sides. Jurors estimate the debate basing on their subjective feelings, not necessarily paying attention to historic knowledge. The leader takes care of the culture of a spoken word and the debate quality.
The competition debates "The Warsaw Uprising made sense" were conducted in accordance with the "Rules of an Oxford debate" prepared for the 4th Oxford Debates Championships of Poland which took place in Poznań in 2016. The technical details of the debate were placed in the Rules of an Oxford debate and the Rules of an Oxford debate competition.
Information about the competition was sent to Warsaw schools and put at the SPPW 1944 website. The deadline to confirm the participation was November 30, 2016.
Eight Warsaw high schools answered positively: II LO im. Stefana Batorego, III LO im. gen. Józefa Sowińskiego, VII LO im. J. Słowackiego, Zespół Szkół nr 67 im. Narcyzy Żmichowskiej, XVII LO im. Andrzeja Frycza Modrzewskiego, LXIX LO im. Bohaterów Powstania Warszawskiego 1944, LXXII LO im. gen. Jakuba Jasińskiego and Zespół Szkół nr 31 im. J. Kilińskiego.
The Oxford Debates Competition entitled "The Warsaw Uprising made sense" took place on January 26, 2017 in the auditorium of the 2nd High school in Warsaw named after Stefan Batory.
2nd High School in Warsaw named after Stefan Batory
At the SPPW 1944 website an invitation for the Oxford Debates Competition appeared.
Appropriate e-mails were also sent to inform about the event.
The competition took place thanks to the financial support of the City of Warsaw and the Old Town Community Centre.
The debate leader was Jędrzej Markiewicz - the coach of public speeches, juror and the Marketing manager of Education Foundation G5, also the coordinator of the competition in Poznań entitled "To get to know history".
The function of the debate secretary came to Dominika Marcinkowska who works in Organisation and Marketing Fields of Education Foundation G5.
The expert of the debate was Sebastian Kubera - the juror and coach of public speeches in Education Foundation G5, multiple participant of the Oxford Debates Championships of Poland and many other debate competitions, the coordinator of the Oxford Debates Open Championships of Poznań.
In the jury one could see:
Agnieszka Cubała - the author of books: "Ku wolności... Międzynarodowe, polityczne i psychologiczno socjologiczne aspekty Powstania Warszawskiego", "Sten pod pachą, bimber w szklance, dziewczyna i... Warszawa. Życie codzienne powstańczej Warszawy" and "Skazani na zagładę? 15 sierpnia 1944. Sen o wolności a dramatyczne realia".
Robert Gawkowski - the author of a book "Krybar. Uniwersytet w cieniu powstańczych walk";
Halina Jędrzejewska a.k.a. Sławka" - the soldier of the Home Army battalion "Miotła", the vice-chairman of the Warsaw Insurgents Association;
Maciej Podbielkowski - the representative of the Warsaw Uprising Museum;
Piotr Zaremba - the historian, publicist and journalist.
The Jury; from the left side: Halina Jędrzejewska, Piotr Zaremba, Robert Gawkowski, Agnieszka Cubała and Maciej Podbielkowski
On January 26, 2017 since the early morning semi-finals were going on in the Stefan Batory High school.
the auditorium entrance
Four team pairs kept discussing the thesis "The Warsaw Uprising made sense - military chances". The Jury and the audience listened attentively.
Both thesis supporters and thesis opponents made their appearances full of knowledge and emotions. With no doubts we could notice their bigger knowledge than that learnt at schools. Moreover, the subject of the Warsaw Uprising, its course and its chances were important for these young people. The debates were close-fought indeed; one could pity that few teams lost in semi-finals - yet, such are the rules.
Semi-finals selected four finalists.
In the final contest the participants were to discuss the thesis "The Warsaw Uprising made sense - the political and moral meaning". The finalists were classified according to the number of points gained during semi-finals. Similarly to the previous part, one of the teams had to be for and another one against the thesis.
In the debate for the 3rd place the competitors were: XVII LO im. Andrzeja Frycza Modrzewskiego and CXIV LO im. Jana Kilińskiego.
The 3rd place went to the team of the High school named after Andrzej Frycz Modrzewski (thesis opponents): Piotr Kuczyński, Patryk Miernowski, Małgorzata Steczkowska and Borys Szkodziak.
the team of the High school named after Andrzej Frycz Modrzewski, the 3rd place
The 4th place went to the team of the High school named after Jan Kiliński: Sofia Bojalska, Paulina Koźlak, Karolina Roźniak and Jan Rybkowski.
the team of the High school named after Jan Kiliński the 4th place
The 1st place debate was held between the teams from: VII LO im. Juliusza Słowackiego and XV LO im. Narcyzy Żmichowskiej.
The 1st place finally went to the team of the High school named after Narcyza Żmichowska: Karolina Kłos, Alicja Sęk, Martyna Rosłonkiewicz and Anna Tonecka.
the team of the High school named after Narcyza Żmichowska, the 1st place winner
The 2nd place went to the team of the 7th High school named after Juliusz Słowacki: Bartłomiej Kwapiński, Przemysław Piec, Filip Pieszczyński and Jakub Winnicki.
the team of High school named after Juliusz Słowacki, the 2nd place
The debate leader Jędrzej Markiewicz resumed all the debates.
the summary of the Debate Competition; from the left side: Jędrzej Markiewicz, Agnieszka Cubała,
the 66th Stefan Batory Schools Headmistress Barbara Kordas and the SPPW 1944 chairman Maciej Białecki
The awards given to the winners were Empik vouchers. All the students who participated in the debates received "Notebooks of the Remembrance of the Warsaw Uprising" and CDs by Barbara Figurniak and Mateusz Jarosz with contemporary songs based on the insurgent poems.
As usually happens due to lack of experience by organizing the first such an initiative, few problem arouse.
Just before the beginning of the competition the Jury discussed the "play off" rule in semi-finals, according to which a team that lost a debate with a drawn rival is definitely out. There was a risk, though, that a good team that draws a strong rival will be eliminated and simultaneously a weaker team will get promoted if it has an even weaker rival. The choice of teams was to be absolutely random.
Somebody offered such an idea: promotion to the next round should depend on the number of points gained so far, instead of either win or defeat in a pair of teams. However, it was too late to change the rules; besides most participants were against this offer.
What is more, some of the Jury members did not receive the rules of the Oxford debate and that is why they would give 0 points for each team whose role was to discredit the sense of the Warsaw Uprising.
Above-mentioned facts resulted in losing of the hosts, i.e. the team of the Stefan Batory High school, despite their high level of factual preparation.
All this ought to persuade the organizers to re-think the rules before the next edition of the competition. Also, the Jury members should be more carefully chosen.
Taking everything into consideration, the event was successful. The continuation is welcome.
compiled by: Maciej Janaszek-Seydlitz
pictures taken by: Piotr Śmiłowicz and Maciej Białecki
translation: Monika Ałasa
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