I’m sure you’ve heard it before, but most people say there are two things that are not polite to speak about with relative strangers – religion and politics. As far as High School debate goes, is it not polite to discuss politics in this mixed company? There are many benefits to debating tough topics and issues that are embedded in politics. For instance, students get a firm understanding of media literacy, understanding both sides of the aisle, and the experience of having a positive, productive debate. Let’s take a look at each of these a little closer.
The first important lesson that comes out of participating in a debate involving political topics is a proficiency in media literacy. Especially in today’s political climate, it can be difficult to discern fact from fiction, even coming from top news organizations. There are many factors that lead to this, which we won’t get into in this blog. The fact is, there is a higher need for media literacy, especially if they will be used for constructing arguments. Students need to learn how to fact check and identify credible sources from the start.
Teaches an Understanding of Both Sides
In any debate, it’s an important part of the team’s strategy to understand both sides of the argument. In doing so, you can build a better argument when you understand the whole situation. This is also a great life lesson for students. They will get into debates with friends and family in the future, but not in the safe, comfortable setting of a High School debate. When there are no rules, it’s easier to get lost in the argument. Debate students will learn to see both sides, respect who they are debating with, and construct meaningful dialogue – even off the debate stage.
Encourages Positive Discussion Based in Fact
The foundation of High School debate stands in fact and reason. You can’t construct a winning argument without both of these things. Especially in a politically charged topic, it would be easy to let emotion take over but debate students learn early on how to keep feelings in check and remain on topic. This will carry over into their adult life as well. When they are faced with a family member, friend, or colleague engaging them in a political issue discussion, they will be able to elegantly navigate the topic and speak with fact instead of letting emotion run the conversation.