Regardless of the environment it is applied, proper debating skills can be a valuable asset to young people, especially those preparing to enter a rapidly changing world. Debate is a longstanding part of most educational curriculums, whether it is explored as full course subject matter, as a club or extracurricular organization, or as a specific unit branching off of a broader course (such as English or speech).
Today, debate remains a prevalent part of the school experience, and its continued presence can be chalked up to its importance when applied to many different life scenarios beyond graduation.
Here are a few reasons why debate remains an important part of education.
Improved listening and thinking
By engaging in debate with their peers, students are able to sharpen their listening and critical thinking skills simultaneously. Debate occasionally requires quick thinking that is rooted in strong arguments and counter-arguments, and as students go through this process, they will develop mental muscle memory, of sorts, and may be able to operate more efficiently in other communication-based scenarios (such as office presentations, job interviews, and any type of crisis situation where quick thinking is vital).
Most debate-based school courses allow students to explore some of the most significant polarizing issues faced by society (illegal immigration, euthanasia, abortion, etc.). Students are typically assigned a viewpoint, or given the chance to align with the viewpoint that they feel most comfortable representing, and they are subsequently required to research this topic to come up with contentions. This process, paired with the actual debate simulation itself, gives students the chance to form their own opinions and views on these subjects, which can be a crucial part of their self-identification process. In turn, students will have a better understanding of how to interpret news stories, opinion columns, political debates, and other matters rooted in the subjects they have experimented with.
Morals and values
Debating can be an intense experience, and in educational settings, it can potentially turn friends against each other for an extended period of time. However, if the debating is approached properly, it will be executed in a manner that fosters mutual respect, proper listening and comprehension, and ultimately a controlled environment rooted in both assertion and consideration. Debate etiquette can prepare students to remain composed and respectful in moments where confrontation may be unavoidable (a workplace conflict, for example). Furthermore, these practices allow students to find a healthy balance between personal emotions and constructive restraint — an equilibrium that is crucial to not only good debating, but also to many adult scenarios down the line. They are taught to argue with class, outsmart with respect, and be outsmarted with grace.