I think debating in high school and college is most valuable training whether for politics, the law, business, or for service on community committees such as the PTA and the League of Women Voters. A good debater must not only study material in support of his own case, but he must also, of course, thoroughly analyze the expected argument of his opponent. The give and take of debating, the testing of ideas, is essential to democracy. I wish we had a good deal more debating in our educational institutions than we do now.
What is Debating
Brief info about debating
Academic debating is a formal argumentation match in which two opposing sides – teams propose or refute a given proposition statements or attack the validity of a motion in a series of speeches. This is not like haggling with the trader nor like speeches of politicians, each speech is governed by a set of rules, which give to the speaker an opportunity to intervene through “points of information”. Academic debates are usually adjudicated by a panel of judges.
Academic debating is a great combination of argumentation with acquiring knowledge of important issues like beliefs, social values, government policies, economics and current problems of the world and today’s society. A competitive academic debate should be logical and structured. Debating combines a unique set of skills which help individuals to analyze data, discover and describe problems, think critically and view the given questions from both ends.
There is a vast amount of different reasons that lead people and especially students to debate, from learning how to make interesting arguments to travelling abroad thousands of miles away for debating competitions in order to meet new friends there. Everyone has their own reasons to debate, but we support and organise debating activities because we strongly believe that:
Debating creates opportunities – Debating offers the opportunity to travel around the world to meet new people. Debating also gives you an opportunity to get a better job because you will be better able to argue why you should be the one who is suitable.
Debating improves skills – In future career, being able to structure arguments, make convincing analyses and present your ideas, plans and projects to a group are all rare and highly prized skills.
Debating leads to understanding – Making arguments, finding pros and cons, this makes you thinking about the problems not only from a single point of view.
I truly believe I would have been as prepared for law school had I simply debated and not attended college at all. I have found that the practice of law—and I assume this is true of a large number of other jobs—consists basically of trying to solve problems in an organized manner…. Debate… placed a premium on the factors that I believe are essential to effective problem solving, including…breaking an argument down into its smallest components and then marshaling factual data…for each element;…talking a problem through with others over a period of time that a contention or issue becomes fully perceivable;…verbally articulating ideas rather than just having a mental conception of them;…and, finally, and perhaps most importantly, coming to appreciate the stresses and rewards of competition.
Raoul D. KennedyAttorney from San Francisco, CA
Debate trained me to analyze and articulate the complex national issues that confront our country today. Too, it was a tremendous help in campaign debates for my House and Senate seats… My intercollegiate debate training was the most valuable experience that I had at Penn State. I derived benefits from it far beyond the normal extracurricular activity that it encompassed.
Richard S. SchweikerFormer Pennsylvania Congressman and Senator, Former Secretary of Health and Human Services
If it is a disgrace to a man when he cannot defend himself in a bodily way, it would be absurd not to think him disgraced when he cannot defend himself with reason in a speech.
The wisest advice I can give to persons considering debate as an activity is: “participate.” In my opinion, hour- for-hour, the reward for time spent debating is greater than any other activity available to the typical student… In addition to the “academic” benefits, potential participants should be alerted to the life-long friendships they will develop, the opportunity to associate with competitive, creative and bright young people, as well as the favorable view of the activity taken by potential employers (particularly in the field of law).
Thomas F. HozdukAttorney from Los Angeles, CA
Debate is the ultimate mental exercise.
What makes a good debater?
Debaters challenge ideas, they do not attack each other. As in other sports, the fair play is crucial. Debaters will eventually have to speak for both sides, so it does not help to be too emotionally invested. A debater is a spokesperson for or against a motion only for the time being, not a fanatic with an unquestionable cause.