National French Debating Finals

Two Year 12 pupils came fifth place in the National Stage of the Institut Français' French Debating Final

On Friday 19 March, the winners of their respective regional competitions of the French Debating competition, organised by the Institut Français went head-to-head in the fierce Nationals. Mitsu Jeffcock and Mark Gorman took part on behalf of Charterhouse, following on from their regional victory in February.

This time, the motions debated were:

• "Les universités devraient accepter en priorité les candidats de leur propre pays."
    (Universities must accept nationals of their country in priority)

• "La vaccination devrait être obligatoire."
    (Vaccination must be compulsory)

The judges, who included the heads of diplomatic delegations from some French speaking countries (France, Switzerland, Tunisia and Quebec) were impressed by the mature formulation of arguments by the boys, their convincing rhetorical style as well as prompt rebuttals in the lutte acharnée (the strife). 

We considered a broad spectrum of ideas and aspects to argue the motions, and how to create the greatest impact. When arguing in favour of the university motion, we were particularly successful in the use of répartie to compare the extraction of raw materials (matières premières) and cerebral grey matter (matière grise), to accentuate the potentially devastating postcolonial effects of extracting the best students out of developing countries.

Mitsu particularly enjoyed debating the vaccine motion, due to his passion for biology, and made excellent points about personal responsibility in herd immunity and justice relating to the distribution of vaccines, as well as the risks involved. Mark, on the other hand, revelled in contemplating Rousseau’s L’Emile and the effects of globalism on education, as well as Voltaire’s Candide and the search for wisdom.

In the end, it was a question of skilled competition and stylistic preferences of the judges – especially when facing Henrietta Barnett School whose dramatic approach contrasted to the boys' confident, yet calm style. Although the boys did not win this year’s National Final, they nonetheless finished in the top five debating pairs in the country.

Mitsu said: ‘Not having chosen French for A-level, it was a great experience to reinforce my language skills acquired at GCSE. I look forward to competing again next year and securing a victory!’

Mark added ‘As I have a deep interest in psychology and linguistics, this has been a truly rewarding experience, not only in discovering the ideas of French philosophers, but also developing my understanding of the French language and social dynamics.’

Sincere gratitude to Mr Pillet, whose unrelenting efforts have yet again come to fruition in preparing a highly skilled debating duo. 

The final this year was won by a very strong Hampton school pair. Bravo to them and à l'année prochaine!  

Writeup by pupils Mark Gorman and Mitsu Jeffcock. 

Well done boys!