Why should students debate? The evidence.

1. Debate motivates students to improve themselves

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  • When students debate, they push themselves to become their best

  • According the top curriculum designers, debate should be part of every student’s life

  • Debate has been fittingly described as an intellectual sport… those who are committed instinctively aspire to ever-higher levels of play.  A good debate is both serious and playful. Debaters soon become skilled enough to achieve what my students call "the zone," or what psychologist Mihály Csíkszentmihályi calls optimal experience or flow—the experience of focus and complete involvement in an activity that is often "so enjoyable that people will do it even at great cost, for the sheer sake of doing it.” - Jon Kendall. “The Case for Debate: Intrinsic Motivation for Thinking and Writing.” Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development. April 10, 2014

2. Debate improves skills necessary for performing well on the SAT

  • Scoring well on tests is extremely important

  • Debate trains test taking skills

  • The most fundamental difference in the new SAT is the focus on evidence-based argumentation (read: debate). The new SAT: “had been redesigned with an eye to reinforce the skills and evidence-based thinking… and move away from a need for test-taking tricks and strategies… students will be asked not just to select the right answer, but to justify it by choosing the quote from a text that provides the best supporting evidence for their answer… The revised essay,.. going forward… students will get a source document and be asked to analyze how its author used evidence, reasoning and stylistic elements to build an argument.” (Source: New York Times, 3/5/14)

3. Debating is great for college admission

  • Debate is a perfect way to prove how good you are to top schools

  • Debate teaches students to research, write, and speak well. And then students have to demonstrate those skills in competition

  • The best way to prove your worth to a school, is to clearly prove that your GPA and test scores mean something

  • "... Unfortunately, nearly all high school students make the erroneous assumption that participation in more activities is better than fewer and in an increasingly complex world that demands in-depth knowledge and expertise in a chosen field of study, colleges and universities are now preferring applicants who choose to be the best at single pursuit. "What counts," says Swarthmore College Dean of Admissions Robin Mamlet, "is how committed students are to an activity." Extracurricular activities like forensics are playing an increasingly important role in the college admissions as well as the scholarship awarding processes. Why? Grade inflation is rampant in both public and private secondary schools and test preparation programs are distorting the reliability of national standardized tests like the SAT and ACT. According to the Wall Street Journal, college admissions directors are relying less on grade point averages and standardized test scores, and are relying more on success in academically-related extracurricular activities such as speech and debate..." - Minh A. Luong, Yale Professor. “Forensics and College Admissions.” PBS.org.