Students at CTKHS use technology to debate with, learn from others in Canada
MOORESVILLE — Students at Christ the King Catholic High School held an international debate — without leaving their own gym.
Five traditional logic and argumentation students presented well-researched arguments and answered questions from students at St. James Catholic School in Ontario, Canada, on May 10 online via Skype, a web-based video conferencing program. It was the school's first online debate.
Students from Christ the King were tasked with debating how the rising gap between the rich and poor leads to loss of hope in social progress. The debaters touched on topics ranging from rising college tuitions rates, loss of trust in government and health care costs in the United States versus free health care in Canada.
"I was really excited to get chosen," said Hannah Cutlip, one of the five students chosen to represent Christ the King. "It's another country we're debating! The research took a lot of hard work. We had to find out all kinds of stuff we never knew about Canada – social, economic information, health care, tuition and more."
Cutlip said the fact she found most interesting is that Catholic schools in Canada are government funded, so students don't pay tuition. And health care is free for everyone, fellow debater Mary Selzer added.
"It was a little nerve wracking (to go first in the debate)," Selzer said. "The whole school was here and it was our first time debating someone other than our classmates."
Christ the King's principal, Dr. Dan Dolan, said this debate is a fun exercise to engage students and teach them about life in other places.
"I think this kind of opportunity is really representative of the broader scope of education today. It's like no other time before. We are limited only by our imagination," Dolan said.
"We used to be limited by the four walls of our classrooms... Here at Christ the King, we interact seamlessly with other schools in our area and the world. We only expect these types of programs to grow."
All the students at Christ the King researched for the debate, said logic teacher Michael Smith. Other students watched as the debate unfolded from chairs behind their "team" in the gym.
Smith said the logic class he teaches is a "touchstone" course at the school.
"We wanted to provide a class to teach students how to reason," Smith said. "One of the pieces of the course is that the students will have to apply the rules of logic to the system of logic. Debating gives them practical experience to do that."
Through the debate, Smith said he hopes his students gain is practical skills in logic and learn about social justice.
Another student Craig Mundy, said preparing for the debate was fun.
"Before we knew we were debating affirmatively, we were each assigned a topic to research for and against. We learned a lot that we didn't need for our side. It better prepared us to argue our point," Mundy said.
Internet connection issues cut this debate short, but the students plan to resume the debate at a later date. And next time, they said they'll be even more comfortable.
— Kimberly Bender, online reporter
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Read and listen to homilies posted regularly by pastors at parishes within the Diocese of Charlotte:
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