In this longread reporter Daan Welling receives an exclusive behind-the-scenes impression of the Dutch Worlds Schools Debating squad.
Over the last few years debaters in the Netherlands have had to cope with a new phenomenon: being trounced by schoolie debaters. In the Open-dominated field teenagers as young as sixteen regularly make it to the final stages of student competitions, all harnessing an unique style. They speak fast and clear, possess native control of English, are immaculately structured, and preface their arguments with terms such as ‘trade-offs’, ‘context’, and ‘group analysis’. And while the share of Dutch teams in the latter stages of worldwide competitions is declining this group of teenagers is breaking records, beating established teams such as Singapore, New Zealand and Scotland regularly at the Worlds Schools Debating Championships. How did they get so good? What are their secrets? SevenTwenty sent a reporter on their trail to find out.