The fifth grade boys in 5A and 5W have spent the past month preparing for a debate that pits Athens against Sparta over five key areas – Military, Economy, Government, Culture & Values, and Arts & Education – to determine which was the superior society. The teams assessed the value of education at that time, slavery, the role of women, military formations, farming, pottery making, music, currency, and trade.
This was the fourth annual Sparta vs. Athens debate held at the School, but the fifth graders’ first experience with formal debating. The boys learned key components of a debate from constructive and rebuttal speeches to when to challenge a point and how to reject it. The boys also worked on skills such as: research, public speaking, teamwork, etiquette, ethics and analytical thinking.
When asked what the most difficult aspect of the debate was, several of the boys said, “If someone challenged me to a Point of Information, it was hard having to think whether or not to respond under pressure in the middle of my speech.”
They went on to add, “Getting all the information out quickly because we were being timed was also a challenge.”
After announcing the scores, judges provided useful feedback with comments such as: "You made sure that your teammates spoke for an equivalent amount of time."; "You had a strong opening and closing, which grabbed my attention."; and "Clearly a lot of research went into your proposals." This year's judges were sixth, seventh and eighth graders who were all previous debaters and included: Raam Melvani '20, Vivek Laddha '20, Reed Ferguson '21; Jeremy Negrin '21 and Danny Gall '21; Luke Jovanovic ’19 and James Wlodarczak ‘19; Jamie Resurreccion '21 and Dylan Collins '21; Nelson Spiegel '19, Gabe Jaffe '21 and Adam Gall '21.
Library Director and debate fact checker Sarah Kresberg said, "I had to do less fact-checking this year which means you were very good about citing your sources. Good effort boys!"
Fifth Grade Teachers Lisa Anderson and Kim Weber complimented the boys on their amazing teamwork, in particular, the sharing of supporting information with members of their teams throughout the debate.