“F. Scott Fitzgerald” once said, “The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function.” Still serves as the best definition to describe the word “debate” in intellectual terms.
“Speech is power: speech is to persuade, to convert, to compel. It is to bring another out of his bad sense into your good sense.”-Ralph Waldo Emerson-
Debate is a valuable activity for students of all skill levels. Debate teaches useful skills for other academic pursuits and life more generally. Most obviously, debaters build confidence speaking in public and expressing their ideas eloquently. That comfort speaking in front of others is useful in so many areas of life, from interviews to school presentations to discussions in college seminars.
Benefits of Debate in High School:
While only 50 percent of high school students in urban schools graduate, ninety percent of urban high school debaters graduate. What is more, 72 percent of high-risk secondary-school debaters graduate, versus just 43 percent of high-risk non-debaters. They also score better on ACT and SAT tests, get into better colleges, and perform better once in college.
Debate skills aid students to prompt their thoughts better in their academic work and their college applications (not to mention around your dinner table!). The College Board recently refurbished the SAT test to emphasize more on exactly the sorts of skills debate teaches.
As the New York Times explained, students taking the new version of the test must write “a critical response to a specific argument” based on analysis rather than personal experience. Debaters are used to responding to unfamiliar arguments in time-sensitive situations; thinking critically about a written passage on the SAT is not so different from responding to an opponent’s argument in a debate round.
Learning to Debate and Public Speak reaps lifelong benefits. Students who participate in “debate programs” will discover and develop the following skills:
- Confidence – Belief in themselves and their abilities, and the desire to participate in all classes.
- Curiosity – The passion of discovery through effective tools for research, organization and presentation.
- Critical Thinking – How to explore the world through the lens of an inquisitive mind
- Communication – Oral & written skills and strategies for lively yet respectful discussions & disagreements.
- Control – Eliminate the fears of public speaking.
- Creativity – The desire to explore, create and invent.
- Camaraderie – Meet like-minded peers at tournaments and build healthy bonds of competition.
- Leadership – Self-motivation and the ability to delegate assignments and manage peers.
Types of debates:
Policy Debate: In this type of debate, you have teams of 2. The topic for this type will consist of a current national question, and will be debated through constructive argument, cross-examination, and refutation. Each team will argue both sides of the topic.
Lincoln-Douglas: This is a very popular type of debate, with one person per team. The focus of Lincoln-Douglas is values. A Lincoln-Douglas debater will develop argumentation skills such as value analysis, sound and ethical uses of persuasion, and how to clearly communicate to an audience. Several topics are covered throughout the year.
Public Forum: This type of debate is known as the “audience friendly debate.” The topics consist of controversial issues, such as those found in newspaper articles. Public forum debaters will learn and use skills such as argumentation, cross-examination, and refutation. Each month a new topic will be debated.
However, the formatting style subjected to various types of debates may be carried out in different styles and presentations for potential students to participate and being assessed by the relevant judges against the required skills respectively.
My favorite thing about debating in front of live audiences is by far the Q&A. Up to that point, student have no idea how your opening arguments will be received, so striking the right chord involves mostly guesswork. Once the audience start giving you a piece of their minds though, the student gets to know where he stands and what it will take to persuade them. It is in these critical exchanges that the debate is ultimately won or lost and the ability to handle difficult questions really can determine which it will be.
There are only 2 reasons you will be asked a question by the audience
- Because they didn’t understand what you said.
- Because they didn’t agree with what you said.
Following example includes the implementation of “Q&A” style debates with required guidelines for students to prep themselves accordingly. Such necessary sessions aid students to develop presentation skills and essential confidence within the dynamic environment, while being assessed by the learning committee enhances clarifications with regard to target goals for future accomplishments.
● Please submit at least ONE article per person supporting your topic on the Classroom by the due date. You need to be VERY prepared for any question the class may ask you. Be prepared for any question related to the debate with facts and statistics to support your topic.
● Each group will have no more than 3 minutes
● Restate theme or idea, Explain why it’s important? General reasons for the position
● Questions will be directed at both teams in alternating fashion
● Each team will have two minutes to answer
● Each group will have no more than 3 minutes
● Attack and reiterate, Summarize your potion and evidence
The Debate requirements with regard to the student’s preparation and understanding are presented with relevant information required on the topic, this allows the student to prep and storms the nature of debate activity with regarding each unit or activity within the debate assignment. However, presenting their idea with more organized research and practice prior to the debate day.
Academics such as “Oros” (2007) and “Jackson” (2009) advocate that debates should be embedded in module teaching to enhance students’ critical thinking and collaborative learning skills. It would appear from these findings that fourteen of the sixteen students in this study did not prefer the use of debates on the use of other teaching strategies. However, as Jackson (2009) states debates should complement other teaching techniques but not replace them. The data in the current study represented the complexity of students’ teaching preferences, pointing to the essential need for variety. In total 87.5% of students stated that they would like to see the use of debates in another module.