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Develop the Analytical Minds of Students through Debate Activities

Debate is an effective and reliable tool to develop the analytical skills of students. A teacher should look upon every activity as a learning tool, whether this is done outside or inside the classroom. Competitive debate is one of the most common methods that educators utilize to enhance the didactic phase and to maximize the teaching-learning process.

How is competitive debating done?

1. Two teams from 3-4 members are usually given a topic for debate. One group would be the affirmative and the other, the negative; e.g. "Should there be a division of the state and the church?" You could create numerous topics from your lessons.

2. Each member of the group would be given 5-7 minutes to present his/her arguments.

3. After each argument the other group is allowed to interpolate or to rebut the merits and demerits of the other team's presentation.

4. The team who earns the highest points, with regards to the validity of arguments presented, would win.

This is a great learning tool because of the following significant reasons:

1. The students, not only, learn how to express themselves in public but would also learn how to respect the right of others to speak. During the debate, no one is allowed to butt in unless duly acknowledged by the on-going speaker.

When the exposure of the students to debating activities is intensive, they would become more and more confident in expressing themselves. Being a fluent writer does not necessarily denote that students are good speakers too. It takes practice to perfect oral expression and this is one effective tool to do it.

There are many graduates with above average IQs, who were turned down upon applying for a job, because someone with an average IQ was hired; all because he knew how to express himself fluently.

Learning is also about expressing your thoughts and ideas well.

2. Debate teaches students to argue without rancor or enmity. They develop their skill on tactfulness and dynamic expression, without appearing condescending or haughty. Debaters are trained to remain calm and collected. Voices should never be raised or negative emotions should not be displayed. When a debater shouts, interrupt rudely, or makes face, a demerit point is given to their group.

3. The logical and organized presentation would teach students to organize their thoughts; that arguments are considered logical when they could be supported by facts. This is one of the bases of giving out points; the arguments presented should have facts, and not hearsay, to back them up.

4. Students learn how to be good team players. Cooperation and support is the
key word to a successful debating team. Each member has to support the other member's arguments or they would not be able to win.

5. Students learn how to think and act quickly. Prompt and decisive decisions had to be made during the process of rebuttal and argumentation. Sometimes unexpected questions are thrown by the other debating team and they should be able to give a prompt reply. This is crucial to the points that a team could earn. When they participate in debates more often, they would learn how to think on their feet. Snap decisions that are sensible had to be made. This is one of the most important aspects that students learn.

6. The value of research and fact finding is encouraged in debates. Students learn that they cannot just state an assumption without having a document to prove it with; that for ideas to be recognized, they should have valid documentation.
Students have also to do extensive research if they want to be thorough about their arguments. This activity will make them aware of the value of research.

7. The essence of sportsmanship would be a wonderful learning experience for them. The significance of being gracious in defeat is most often ignored. How many times do we see an athlete on TV throw his medal because he did not win? Students should learn that winning is not everything? Losers can be winners if they had learned something from that particular competition.

Based on the above mentioned facts, it is apparent that debate is a great learning tool because it develops the students as whole persons. Learning is holistic. It includes not only the cognitive (knowledge acquisition) but also the affective (behavioral good behavior ) and the psychomotor (physical/manual skills) aspects of the students' development; so form now your debating teams in class and reap the rewards of total learning. Allow your students to explore their full potential with debating activities.

Photo by Frerieke's photostream


tashabud said...

Are you kidding, Jena? I'm terrified, even just, at the thought of speaking in front of an audience. What'd that do to me in a debate? LOL.

Your article is excellently written. I've learned some things from it today. It's good that you've emphasized facts, facts, and facts, instead of hearsay.

I wish I had the opportunity to develop such skill growing up and getting educated in the boondoks in my youth. Tehehe.


Jena Isle said...

Hi Tasha,

Thanks, you're always very supportive. Well, you would be a good speaker I know, just try it.