Yesterday, amid the applause and cheers of 1,100 people at the Academic Community Hall, Hong Kong Baptist University, TWGHs Kap Yan Directors' College won the grand final of the 11th NESTA-SCMP Debating Competition.
The winning team of Ben So Hoi-kin, Peony So Sin-man and Ellen Ng Man-yi received the championship trophy from Kim Mak, the Hong Kong Jockey Club's executive director of corporate affairs.
TWGHs Kap Yan Directors' College and Ying Wa College debated the motion that 'the tiger mother approach is a good way to bring up teenagers in Hong Kong' with Kap Yan taking the affirmative and Ying Wa the negative.
The debate was adjudicated by five native English teachers: Perry Bayer from CCC Ming Kei College; Tom Derbyshire of Stewards Pooi Kei College; Barbara Robson of St Antonius Girls' College; David Walker of Hoi Ping Chamber of Commerce Secondary School and Karen Margetts from Aberdeen Baptist Lui Ming Choi College.
Adjudicator Margetts praised both teams for supporting their arguments with good evidence. 'The debate was an excellent battle of words and ideas,' she said.
The team adopting the affirmative argument built their case on the premise that having a tiger mother was essential to develop children's skills in order to thrive in the ultra-competitive environment of Hong Kong. The negative side, on the other hand, disapproved of the tiger mother parenting approach, calling it abusive and likely to kill the creativity and individuality of children. They made use of the book Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother by Amy Chua to make their case.
Adjudicator Margetts felt the negative team had misused facts from the book and that worked against their chances of winning. 'The negative team mentioned on a few occasions that Amy Chua forced her children to stand in the snow, but that was not true. She wanted her children to ask to come in, but ended up giving in to them by letting them in,' she said.
So, the second speaker from the affirmative side, was awarded the 'Best Speaker' for her emotional speech.
In his summing up, adjudicator Bayer said: 'Peony brought lovely energy to the debate. She made good use of rhetorical questions to convince the audience.'
So said she was very excited about the win. 'Looking back, our team has come a long way since the beginning of the preliminary rounds in September last year,' she said. 'All this time my team mates and I worked really hard. We are a great combination and our coach Ian Sanderson has been very supportive. He even took time off on Sundays to practise with us.'
Sanderson could not be happier to see his team's efforts pay off. 'Hard work is what got us the victory,' he said. 'All of them took time to read Amy Chua's book to get an in-depth knowledge of the issue. We also researched media coverage and tried to look at the argument from different perspectives and, of course, we had lots and lots of practice.'
The contest, organised by the Native English Speaking Teachers' Association and the South China Morning Post, was sponsored by the Hong Kong Jockey Club.