Our Mission

For more than a decade ModernBrain and our collaborators have worked to help students to become independent learners. We teach critical thinking through oral communication. Our mission is to help students and teachers develop confidence, build self efficacy, conflict resolution, and intercultural skills. We believe that the most important skill is to learn how to learn.

  • Progress in any learning environment comes from hard work, but too often this work lacks a sound theoretical foundation.

  • The model of learning where instructors lecture and students passively engage in the course’s content is quickly being understood as ineffective.

  • But engagement is not sufficient.

  • Instructors must skilled in their discipline and also effectively mentor student self efficacy, give effective feedback, and teach self assessment in order for students to acquire the 21st century literacies necessary to thrive in today’s schools and workplaces.

  • We teach an evidence based system of theory and applied learning, developing students critical faculties through self assessment, feedback, and coaching.

Why our process works

Critical thinking, communication, and wages.

When the Martin Prosperity Institute looked at data from 800 occupations over a period of 63 years. They found increasing evidence that a combination of analytical skills and social skills produced the largest lifetime effects on wages.

Which skills boost success?

“[S]ocial intelligence skills, like teamwork, communication, people management”

At one time, students could learn a specific skill like:

  • Math

  • Biology

  • Law

Now, students need to be able to identify a problem, decide which tools to use (math, biology,law, etc), solve the problem, and communicate their methods and solution in an effective and persuasive manner while adapting to their audience.

Only one small part of that process falls within the traditional model of education. Each part is necessary but not sufficient for a student to thrive and adapt to the coming future.

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Why Join Us?

1. We produce great debaters

  • Every year that we have coached at the college level, someone that we coached was a national champion

  • Top speaker awards at prestigious K-12 debate tournaments like Harvard-Westlake

  • Irvine students won awards for storytelling from New York Times best selling children’s author Adriana Mather

  • More than 90% of ModernBrain’s students have won an award this year and most have won multiple awards.

2. We create great results at any age and any skill level

  • Our students consistently outperform other teams at tournaments, taking home more awards than any other school.

  • We average at least one award per student per tournament, and many students take home 2-3 awards.

  • Our students win awards and place at tournaments with only 1-2 months training.

  • Most programs only teach one thing well. Our students win in every category of speech: limited preparation, memorized speeches, acting, and debate.

  • We have coached national champion speakers for nearly every year for the last ten years.

  • We invented a new form of competition that puts the focus on learning and thinking.

  • We have taught our techniques to students and teachers in the US and China.

  • We have worked with award winning community organizations like ACLA in order to bring high quality educational opportunities to those in need.

  • We have helped award winning community colleges provide even better service to their communities through our evidence based, data driven process.

3. We are the only debate group that teaches students to create and innovate

  • Our students created a new speech and debate event. Then, they got a university to run a competition with that event. And we have now won most of the awards in that event: Original Narrative.

4. Success in life proves our system works

  • Our students get into top schools like UC Berkeley & Stanford, but what they do after college is even more exceptional:

    • Palantir Interns - Innovative company founded by Peter Thiel

    • Harvard Law School

    • Latham and Watkins - One of the top law firms in the world

    • Published in top tier journals - Nearly impossible for an undergrad

    • Startups in Silicon Valley

  • Our students come from many backgrounds. Debate helps them all

  • One of our ESL debate students won a Goldman Sachs global leader competition by developing a business plan and then defending it through debate

5. What do our students learn in class?

  • We give our students more chances to practice than any other program

    • Nationwide, 78% of public speaking classes have four or fewer speeches

    • Our students give at least 2 speeches per class

  • To improve critical thinking, every class includes

    • Oral assessments required by all students each class meeting

    • In class written assignments

    • Constructing evidenced arguments - making inferences

  • We teach every type of speaking to create a well rounded performer

    • Limited Preparation speaking - 2 minutes to prepare a 5 minute speech

      • Teaches critical thinking and how react quickly

    • Memorized speeches

      • Research, writing skills, and interview skills

    • Acting

      • Teaches students how to understand and capture an audience's attention using emotions

    • Debate

      • Students learn how to analyze evidence, make persuasive arguments, and respond to opposition


What is ModernBrain?

  • The most competitive speech & debate program in Orange County.

  • A program to gain confidence through oral communication.

  • A path to critical thinking, problem solving, and intercultural skills.

  • A fun way to learn public speaking for kids 1st-12th grade

Why Speech & Debate?

  • The ability to articulate oneself confidently is key to success in life.

  • Learn to think on your feet and spontaneously present information.

  • Develop confidence in a positive space for kids to speak their minds.

  • A place to learn to express one’s beliefs and persuade others.

  • Public speaking & critical thinking are the #1 skills looked for by colleges and future employers.

  • We practice more than any program.

  • Most students who do speech & debate are in the top 10% of their class in high school.

  • 98.6% of students who do speech & debate go to college and they are more likely to be accepted into a top tier and/or Ivy League university.

  • Students who do speech & debate are on average 25% more advanced in oral and written communication as well as reading comprehension.

  • 87% of students who do speech & debate report being able to analyze information better.

  • Students who do speech & debate report having 15% higher self-esteem after joining.

Class Descriptions

 Comprehensive speech & debate:  This class is perfect for students regardless of skill level! Whether you’re a beginner who is terrified to speak in front of people or someone with years of public speaking experience, our comprehensive class is for you. In this class, students will learn and practice four main areas of public speaking: limited preparation speaking, research-based speaking, interpretation of literature (acting), and debate. As students learn and practice skills, they will continue to build on those skills to become experts.

Little Orators speech: This class is a great introduction to speech for your younger ones! Designed for kids 1st & 2nd grades, this class teaches students how to stand up and speak in front of an audience. Kids will learn how to tell stories, explain abstract concepts (like explaining what bravery means to them) and learn basic argumentation skills through mini debates.

 Nationals Team Competition Training: Students who are on the national competition team will have the chance to compete against the top students in the US at competitions at schools like Stanford, Berkeley, and Yale. Middle school students will compete at the high school level. Students who sign up for the nationals team are expected to have speech & debate experience and proficiency.

Parliamentary debate: or “parli” debate is a two-on-two limited prep form of debate. Topics are different every round, and students are given 20 minutes to research and prepare for the round before they debate it. Topics are focused on current events, and students are taught how to research, and they will learn and study a broad variety of current events. Debates are based in policy debate, where students act as the government to pass laws, but they learn to adapt to changing topics. Students are not allowed to bring any materials into the round that they didn’t write during their 20 minutes of prep time.

Policy debate: Widely regarded as the most difficult and most elite form of debate, policy is a two-on-two style of debate where students debate a single political topic area for an entire year in depth - policy coaches and students estimate that one year of policy debate requires an equivalent amount of work as a master’s degree. Students learn advanced reading comprehension skills, how to develop and write arguments based on complex texts, the art of speaking and defending evidence-based claims, advanced listening and note taking skills, collaboration and teamwork, and time management.

 Lincoln-Douglass (LD) debate: A one-on-one style of debate, LD is an individual style of debate. Topics change every two months, and focus on questions that explore how society ought to be, as well as exploring questions of morality and justice. In Lincoln-Douglass debate, students learn to research and find evidence to support a topic, study and understand complex concepts of ethics and morality, and practice advanced listening, note taking, and time management skills.