Tabbed fifth in the world

Year 12 student Jack Solomon was tabbed (placed) fifth in the world at the World School Debating Championships earlier this year.

Now, as a Year 12 student, Jack is recognised as Australia’s best school-age debater and was tabbed (or ranked) fifth best in the world at the World Schools Debating Championships (WSDC) earlier this year.

The WSDC is a global competition for high school debaters. The Championships take place each year in a different country. All debates take place in English. Each country can submit a squad of 3-5 eligible students to debate social, moral, and political issues. There are currently between 50 and 60 nations that compete annually.

Jack was selected to represent Australia at the WSDC through a very rigorous selection process. “The first step was to be selected to represent Victoria for the National Championships, which I was,” he explains. “Then the selectors carefully watched the debaters throughout the Nationals and chose the best five speakers from that pool. I was fortunate to be one of those selected.”

The Australian team went on to reach the quarter finals of the WSDC, with 8/10 wins during the heats.

The 2017 Year 12 Debating team, from left: Jack Solomon, Michael Patrick, Rich Bartlett, Nick Bartlett, Jack Wappett

“It was exciting but humbling to represent Australia,” says Jack. “I know there were a lot of people who wanted to be in the team, and a lot who have done so in the past. I wanted to make sure that I represented them well.”

Jack found debating on the world stage to be a challenging experience. “We debated against teams who have different styles and mannerisms than we were used to,” he says. “While that made it interesting, we weren’t always sure what to expect.”

The ranking of individual debaters occurred at the end of the Championships. “It was definitely a surprise to be tabbed fifth in the world,” says Jack. “Obviously I hadn’t been able to see all the other people in the competition debate, so I didn’t know the standard or have any idea where I might fall. I was really pleased that other Australia team members also ranked highly.”

“I don’t think you have to initially be a great public speaker to be a great debater,” explains Jack. “That can be learnt through practice and coaching. What is important is the argumentation. You need to be able to challenge every idea you hear, and make it your own.”

As Captain of Debating at Melbourne Grammar School, Jack has mentored numerous younger debaters this year and played a key role in the organisation of various debating activities at the School.

Ultimately, Jack would like to represent Australia in future debating competitions.

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