Over the past four days, St. Clement’s School has played host to the International Independent Schools’ Public Speaking Competition. Our small community has welcomed over forty-five school teams and their coaches from Canada, the United States and around the Globe. This competition sees students competing in a variety of different types of speaking including parliamentary, after dinner, impromptu, radio newscast, extemporaneous and persuasive – and their work has been outstanding.
While I have had the good fortune to both observe and judge many rounds during the competition, I was particularly taken with the persuasive speeches the participants prepared and presented.
Persuasive speaking- which convinces others about something serious through the presentation of both a problem and a solution- is an important skill for any one. I was very impressed with our competitors’ choice of topics including: concussions, women’s equality, leadership and the power of introversion, the stigma around menstruation, and the detrimental effects of the smart phone. The young men and women who spoke were passionate, articulate and well-informed and it was a pleasure to listen to them. One feels a tremendous sense of optimism for the future when listening to these students.
However, my optimism is not just a result of these competitors’ work, but also because I know that our own students are taught persuasive writing and its application as early as our primary grades. I have been at the receiving end of this writing when, for the example, the Grade 2s wrote me a letter a few years ago to convince me that they should have a turtle as a pet. Many a conversation with students from the Junior School to the Senior School incorporate a component of persuasion.
The art of communication cannot be underestimated. Our intellectually curious, courageous and compassionate girls and young women are at the School to learn how to learn, not only so that they will be prepared for the school years ahead, but also because we will be launching them into life beyond 21 St. Clements Avenue. Their strength of conviction, the clarity of their messages, and their persuasive skills will, no doubt, stand them in good stead.