Nothing compares to a metaphor

Nothing compares to a metaphor

Facts and figures prove useless in the face of one team's decision to add some colour to a debate


(From left) Vanezza Loren, Angus Tsang Ho-hin and Vince Patrick Tan of Fukien Secondary School work on their plan of attack.
(From left) Vanezza Loren, Angus Tsang Ho-hin and Vince Patrick Tan of Fukien Secondary School work on their plan of attack.
Photos: May Tse/SCMP

Two teams chose very different weapons when they faced each other in a battle of words. Pentecostal School chose to bombard the enemy with facts and figures, while Fukien Secondary School chose the more subtle, but deadly accurate, metaphor.

And, in this case, victory went to the metaphor.

It was the first round of the 13th Nesta-SCMP Debating Competition, with Pentecostal supporting the motion "Hong Kong teenagers are too attached to electronic gadgets" and Fukien arguing against it.

The debate took place on Monday at Fukien Secondary School in Kwun Tong. Edmond Li, an English teacher from Ning Po College, was the adjudicator.

Li declared Fukien the winners because he thought they had done a better job with their argument, using metaphors to build up their case. He added that Pentecostal lost points for blitzing the audience with too much information. "One thing that debaters have to bear in mind is that numbers and statistics are used to support the arguments; they cannot be presented as arguments," Li said.

"The affirmative side had done a great job of researching but they need to make better use of the numbers and facts to support their argument. Overwhelming the audience with statistics is certainly not a good approach."

Vince Patrick Tan, a Form Five student and third speaker from Fukien, was named best speaker. "Vince pointed out the flaws in the logic of the opponents. He spoke with great pace and did not read much from his note cards," said Li.

He added that both schools had problems defining the motion - with Fukien failing to spell out its meaning altogether. And the students also had trouble highlighting their team line.

"The affirmative side came out with a team line in the beginning, saying being attached to electronic gadgets affects teenagers' health, social life and academic results. But I don't think it is a good team line; I think it is more of a statement," Li said. "A team line should be a direct sentence that I can relate to the arguments throughout the debate. As for the negative, they never really did come out with one."

The contest is organised by the Native English Speaking Teachers' Association and the South China Morning Post.



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