What do the interschool debates, globalization, and self-marginalization got to do with one another?

Debates were probably around since the time human beings, Homo sapiens like you and I started to communicate, think, and reason. Over the centuries, this form of expression was seen throughout the very first civilizations whether among the ancient Greeks, or among the Roman Senators. In the 20th century, debates have not died out or become outdated but on the contrary, they have increasingly been used as a means of education in colleges and universities. The Inter School Debates Finals 2006/2007 held in TAR College, of which I was delighted and honored to be the emcee, was the perfect example.

The tournament started with the preliminary rounds where interested participants from all schools in TAR College took part. The winners from the preliminaries were then selected to debate at the quarter finals. The participants were then required to attend a workshop on the 1st of July to further sharpen and hone their debating skills and strategiesin order to give them better insights to the art of debating. Around 50 students attended the workshop and almost all of them participated in the mock debate and the impromptu speech presentation (the nightmare of debaters and public speakers alike).

After the workshop, the Semi-Finals were then held to choose the cream of the crop for the Inter School Debate Finals 2006/2007. As all other contestants were eliminated and knocked out, two schools emerged as victors. They were the School of Pre-University Studies and the School of Business Studies. On the government side were the School of Pre-University Studies represented by Tharishni Arumugam, Amelia Ann, and P. Mahesan while on the opposition side were representatives of the School of Business Studies, namely, Quah Jun Loong, Chan Al Vin, and Joshua Joseph.

The motion for the finals was, “This House Believes That Rice is More Important than Rights”. As usual, the debates started off with the government trying to define the parameters of the debate. After that, the same old story begins as both the government and the opposition team fling and hurl their questions or points of information at each others faces. Both teams were doing very well until the mid-game. At this point, something interesting happened to the government team. Instead of reinforcing their stand and parameter of argument, the government team tried to extend the reach of their previously defined parameter.

Extending the parameter or boundary of a debate previously set and agreed upon is dangerous play (as I once tried and failed miserably). The opposition team capitalized on the whole ‘I want to change the parameter’ thing and attacked the government at every given opportunity by stating that the government was giving contradicting points, was unstable in its argument, was out of the parameter that itself had defined, and was supporting the argument of the opposition team. In my humble opinion, the whole strategy worked! It sent the government team back into its shoes with the, “I am lost look”. The outcome of the debate at this point was predictable and sure enough the School of Business Studies attained 1st placing!

Now many of you might think that I have lost my bearings since the title of this article is ” The Inter School Debates Finals 2006/2007, Globalization, and Self-Marginalization”. So what does globalization got to do with debates held in our college? The answer means more to us than we may perceive. It is the English language. As human beings around the globe face new challenges and opportunities, like e-commerce, internet banking, biotechnology, nanotechnology, teleconferencing, and etc, we find ourselves more and more interdependent and interrelated to one another with the marvels of science and technology. Suddenly the reality of a ‘Global Village’ may not seem like some fairytale castle in the sky. And if you are still wondering what the universal language in this ‘Global Village’ is, kindly by all means reread this article.

Science and technology have made our planet a shrinking world and all men brothers.

Hendrik Willem Van Loon
The Story of Mankind

As humanity move forward in a pace and velocity never seen before in history, we find that the English language has increased in its value and reach in all places of the world. The most famous and important books are in English, the most famous universities teach subjects in English, the Chinese in mainland China are learning English, and now we Malaysians are to study Math and Science in English. It is as though the whole world is screaming, English! English! English! Globalization will also bring to us a new challenge, a new test of which I would call ‘self-marginalization’. ‘Self-marginalization’ is the opposite of ‘Globalization’. ‘Globalization’ seeks to unite, to blend, to combine, to join, to fuse, and to merge into one. ‘Self-marginalization’ on the other hand seeks to separate, to detach, to disconnect, to disengage, to dismember, and to disunite from the mainstream.

We are all beginning another great journey. We can’t be sure exactly where this one will lead either, but I’m certain it will touch many lives and take us all even farther. The major changes will be in how people communicate with each other.

Bill Gates
The Road Ahead

I believe that as human beings of any religion, we are given a free will, a choice, a freedom to choose for ourselves what is best for our well-being. We have the freedom to choose to ‘globalize’ ourselves or to ‘self-marginalize’ ourselves. To ‘self-marginalize’ ourselves is to hide and cower in fear and isolation of technology, of science, of knowledge, of philosophy, and of democracy. But to ‘globalize’ ourselves is to take the first step towards mastering the English language, to learn, to open up, never to be narrow minded, to respect democracy, and to equip ourselves with the proper sword and shield to face an ever certain and ever nearer challenges of a ‘global village’.

As we continue on our journey towards a global future, bear in mind that sometimes only the terms are different, everything else, the arguments, the logic, the predictions, the rhetoric, is practically the same. With this I would like to say, “embrace globalization, learn and master English, do not ‘self marginalize’ yourself, embark with an open, calm, and adventurous heart as we look forward to this voyage into the future and say goodbye to the wonderful and meaningful year of 2006.”

Mankind is surely going to destroy itself unless it succeeds in growing together into something like a single family.

Arnold Toynbee
A Study of History

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