01 December 2009

Proposed List of Debate Topics

This list was created by the members of the team and is by no means final or binding. Students are welcomed to add topics regularly and choose to debate what they wish.

Are disposable goods more trouble than they are worth?
Teachers should not use candy as a reward.
Cigarettes should be banned.
Korea should end the use of the 10 won coin.
Single sex education is better than co-ed education.
Celebrities should not be role models.
Beauty pageants do more harm than good.
Size 0 fashion models should be banned.
Plastic shopping bags should be discontinued.
Home schooling is better than public schooling.
GMO foods should be banned.
Television is a bad influence.
Schools should not use standardized testing.
Violent video games should be banned.

27 November 2009

Debate Update

On Friday October 23, the members of the Bundang High School Debate Club took part in their first debate of the term. The students actively debated if students should be permitted to use mp3 players in school. The proposition side stated that students should be permitted to use mp3 players in school, while the opposition side argued that they should remain banned. Both sides argued strong points for their case, including those listed below.

Proposition Arguments:
1. Mp3 players relieve stress.
2. Mp3 players help students to concentrate during self-study time.
3. Mp3 players improve the quality of life for students due to rights.
4. Mp3 players can be used for academic purposes.

Opposition arguments:
1. Mp3 players are a distraction.
2. Mp3 players are too valuable to bring to school.
3. Mp3 players are bad for your ears.
4. Mp3 players will be used inappropriately.

For the second class meeting, students choose a light hearted topic and debated the merits of Peppero Day.

Propositon arguments:
1. Giving peppero on Peppero Day allows people to express their feelings when other times, they might be too shy.
2. Giving the gift of peppero can help people extend friendships and improve relationships.
3. The increased sale of peppero is good for the GNI.

Opposition arguments:
1. It is unfair and stressful for the students who do not receive peppero on Peppero Day.
2. Peppero is not healthy.
3. The large sale of peppero on Peppero Day is a waste of resources, produces too much trash, and is bad for the environment.

17 November 2009

Fall 2009

Debate is a formal contest of argumentation between two teams or individuals. More importantly, debate is an essential tool for developing and maintaining democracy and open societies. Debate embodies the ideals of reasoned argument, tolerance for divergent points of view, and rigorous self-examination. Debate is a way for those who hold opposing views to discuss controversial issues without descending to insult, emotional appeals, or personal bias. A key trademark of debate is that it rarely ends in agreement, but rather, allows for a robust analysis of the question at hand. Perhaps this is what French philosopher Joseph Joubert meant when he said: “It is better to debate a question without settling it, than to settle a question without debating it."

Debate teaches advanced critical thinking, effective communication, independent research, and teamwork. Once students have learned how to debate, they are better able to critically examine the pronouncements of their political representatives and to make informed judgments about crucial issues. Debate also gives us the opportunity to examine ways to improve our community, country, and the world!

21 September 2009

31 March 2009

Discussion and Debate postponed

Discussion and Debate has been postponed until the October 2009 elective season. Arthur E. Michalak will instead do physics with Bundang and Bucheon students as part of a province-wide government science cooperative.

02 March 2009

Spring 2009

04 January 2009

Sooji Um

My name is Sooji and I am 16 years old. My interests are shopping and watching movies. My disinterests are solving math problems and exercising. Debate is about expressing thoughts about a topic and giving reasonable responses. The qualities of a good debater are conviction about one's side and telling the truth with personal thoughts. One should respect other debaters with different viewpoints. I joined the class because I feel like I am forgetting English and I really miss people who speak it because I cannot talk on the phone with friends (e.g. phone bill). I want to improve my writing, speaking, and reading skills (vocabulary maybe). So, basically, everything. I do not have certain things I want to debate.

Jaehyun Park

I am Jaehyun Park and I lived in the USA five years. I like to play the flute, do karaoke with friends, and shop. I joined the class because I feel I am forgetting English. I would not want to forget English for the rest of my life since it was extremely hard to learn English in America. I personally do not like debating but for my English skills, I will try my best to debate. I wish to improve my speaking because it is hard for me to speak in public. I would like to discuss any issues in the school, or big topics of the world. A good debater should be able to move a person's mind easily and should always have a great opinion. I am planning to be a good debater, and I hope to become one in the future.

31 December 2008

Winter Discussion and Debate

Winter's installment of Discussion and Debate will be every day 2:00pm-4:00pm from 31 December to 14 January. No class 1 January. Topics include a mix of discussion, public speaking, debating. (First semester did not focus on public speaking).

12 December 2008

Recent photos of our students.

All images copyright Bundang High School, Bundang, 463-837, Korea. Corresponding author (gmail account): arthur.michalak@

09 December 2008

9 December minutes

Park Jong-youn "Alex" is awesome.

Alex Park suggested a debate be about himself. We happily agreed, though the class had a difficult time forming an affirmative to support him. ^_^ Hahahaha! A summary of the constructive statements are below. Rebuttals are currently unavailable.

Constructive statements

Alex is funny. His appearance, that is. That gladdens us; he has no girlfriend because he has no time; he is a model student; he is full of confidence

Does not mix well
with other English speakers. He speaks too fast; he is so proud of himself. We find it disgusting. He should know himself better; I hate Alex; he always makes fun of students. It makes for a bad atmosphere.

Result: positive persuasion

05 December 2008

5 December minutes

Salary is the most important reason in choosing a job.

The affirmative supports certain claims made in the article, "Choosing a career." The constructive statements and rebuttals are summarized below.

Constructive statements
We cannot live without money; it's too idealistic to not think about money. People have too many [financial] responsibilities; Almost one one likes to study--we all want to go to a well-known college to improve upon our future chances; Good things cost more--money gives those options.

When the job lacks interest , it causes stress. Often the highest paying jobs are as described; money are for necessities; after all, it has been shown not to give happiness; after twenty-years of working for money, people lose their talents, and their lives empty into an abyss; talent gives success, not money.

It still causes people to work at jobs they do not like--still your argument does not solve the problem; money does not reduce responsibilities; money only helps to get into college, human labor is still needed to run that process to completion; anyway, happiness betters that.

You still cannot help but about thinking about money; necessities are basic to life; lack of money increases the number of regrets; success is not necessary for a happy life.

Result: negative persuasion

04 December 2008

Notice of Debate

Centered on the recently read article, "Foreigners in Korea", the affirmative maintained that "the Korean government should ban unskilled [and undocumented] foreigners from the country." The negative claimed that the resolution was unreasonable. The results are currently unavailable.

02 December 2008

Notice of Debate

The affirmative contends that "it is better for a Korean to study abroad during the elementary or middle school years," while the negative that "it is better for a Korean to study abroad during the high school or the college years."

The resolutions will be debated on Tuesday, 2 December. Material will largely be drawn from the article, "Studying abroad: Korean students overseas." The class will be divided into two groups of eight students. One teacher will moderate.

24 November 2008

Discussion and Debate II

In part two of the course, more emphasis is placed on skills (debating) (part one concerned content ). These skills are for students to become (1) in-depth researchers, (2) technical and persuasive writers, (3) effective communicators, and (4) perceptive listeners. Too much of the educational process involves teachers telling students what to think. Thus education becomes a dull process of memorizing mountains of facts. Competitive debate takes a different approach: it teaches students how to think. The thought process begins by gathering evidence with an open mind (Edwards).

Discussion and Debate provides mental fitness and fun. It is a forum to flush-out bad ideas. The course,
built in integrity, upholds character development. We believe dispute is a powerful teacher. Mental challenges in a group context offer competitors the opportunity to mature leadership skills, self-confidence, and a commitment to others that will rouse them to lead productive lives. Debate
includes practice in the manners of common social interactions. Proficiency is reinforced through reading in multiple areas of cultural studies. The class will include some speech etiquette in social exchanges. Classroom debating will help students grasp many essential critical thinking and presentation skills. Rapid exchanges will help develop clear reasoning, confidence, and partnerships.

Part two will begin on Thursday, 27 November, and will end on Thursday, 11 December. No class Monday, 1 December. Course enrollment will be enlarged to sixteen.

23 November 2008

Faculty Course Questionnaire (FCQ) results

It has been a pleasure to have instructed this class in introductory discussion and debate. The English abilities improved dramatically comparing last class to the second. Students are now quick to respond, do so comfortably, and make the extra effort not to lapse into Korean. I am looking forward to the last third of the course. Below are FCQ results.

Averaging over seven survey questions, below are lists of student attitudes to the course (by student and further below by specific question). The following critera were used: "Presentation of course material; explanation of assignments; relevance of assignments to course; how well the teacher motivated students to explore the subject further; course as a learning experience; this course, compared to all your other courses; this instructor, compared to all your other instructors." The scale is very good = A B C D E = very poor. A = 4.0; A- = 3.7; B+ = 3.3; B = 3.0; B- = 2.7; C+ = 2.3; C = 2.0; C- = 1.7; D+ = 1.3; D = 1.0; D- = 0.7; E = 0.0.

  • Student attitude toward course
  1. A- (98%)
  2. A-
  3. A- (93%)
  4. A-
  5. A-
  6. A-
  7. A-
  8. B+ (88%)
  9. B (79%)
  10. B
On average, students rated the course B+ (3.6/4.0) (90%)
  • Student attitude to course by question
  1. Presentation of course material: B+
  2. Explanation of assignments: A-
  3. Relevance of assignments to course: B+
  4. Workload relative to other courses: 5.1 (too light = 1.0, 9.0 = too heavy)
  5. How well the teacher motivated students to explore the subject further: B+
  6. Course as a learning experience: B+
  7. This course, compared to all your other courses: A-
  8. This teacher, compared to all your other teachers: A-
Of the eight questions, I scored lowest (3.4/4.0 or 85 percent) in presentation of course material. I will double my efforts to produce high quality, easily understandable lessons.

Discussion and Debate photos

Elective winners

These students scored highest in exercises and lessons in Discussion and Debate. Congratulations!
  1. Kang Ji-su
  2. Park Jong-youn and Oh Kyo-kwang

19 November 2008

19 November minutes

8:00pm study-hall every school night affects students positively.

To summarize, the affirmative insists that study-hall develops studying habits; prevents the wasting of time at internet cafes, bad influences, shenanigans and tomfoolery; helps students learn group manners. The negative insists that study-hall is ineffective; students cannot use services because they are stuck at school until 8:00pm and those establishments close (e.g., banks, post offices); students do not often study at study hall--many sleep, disturb others, and create a bad atmosphere.


Combined score (constructive, rebuttal)
  1. Affirmative: 117
  2. Negative: 115
Follow-up questioning
  1. Affirmative: 4
  2. Negative: 8
Final result: Negative persuasion
  1. Affirmative: 121
  2. Negative: 123
The negative constructive side consisted of Kim Min-seop, Lee Ji-hyeon, and Lee Kang-woo; the negative rebuttal side consisted of Kang Ji-soo, Bae Jun-han, and Jang Han-su.

In a recent school poll, sixty-one percent of class 2-10 students said that staying at study-hall until 8:00 pm has affected them positively.

10 November 2008

10 November minutes

On Monday's debate, the affirmative asserted to open the two international schools. Material was largely drawn from the recent Korea Times article. Eight students participated, three students and one teacher judged. The results are below.

Constructive Speeche
  1. Affirmative: 287
  2. Negative: 285
Rebuttal Speeches
  1. Affirmative: 82
  2. Negative: 134
Final outcome: negative persuasion
  1. Affirmative: 369
  2. Negative: 419
The affirmative struggled to counter the negative's rebuttals.

The winning side included Kang Ji-soo, Lee Kang-woo, Lee Ji-hyeon, and Kang Kyo-seong.

07 November 2008

Notice of Debate

On the Monday, 10 November installment of Discussion and Debate, the negative will dispute the affirmative's stance on the presently controversial issue besetting the opening of two international middle schools in Seoul for next March. The affirmative asserts that The two international middle schools must be opened for next March in Seoul. The negative counters that the schools must not. Sources and correspondence will center on the recent Korea Times article. Click here to read it.

Four students will affirm, four will negate, three will abstain, and one teacher will moderate the discussion.

6 November minutes

The government should ban cram schools (hogwan).

The initial poll suggested that three were for and four were against the resolution. Four were absent.

The affirmative implores that cram schools (CS) compel students to stay late studying; banning CSs will improve student mental and physical health; because so many students enroll at CSs, it forces other students to join so as to not be left behind; CSs favor the rich because poorer families cannot afford the costs; CSs reduce the quality of public education; students wishing to enroll at a foreign language high school must meet entry requirements not regularly found in a middle school education—requirements often met after extensive study at a CS.

The negative claims that attendance is voluntary; CSs “favoring” the rich to the poor is not a problem of CSs;--there is an unavoidable gap in wealth; just because a family cannot afford to pay a CS does not mean that all cram schools should be banned; companies are meant to make profits, supply must meet demand; there is not enough teacher attention at regular school [due to the disparate student-teacher ratio].

The moderator found that the affirmative side conveyed a stronger case, leading four-to-two by the end of class. Tabulating the initial polling and the case arguments, the final score was seven-to-six in favor of affirmative.

No exit poll was conducted.

05 November 2008

5 November minutes

The Korean government should stop hiring foreign (native) English teachers because they are not needed.

The affirmative claims the English Program in Korea, EPIK, among others, is too taxing to the Korean government; the system prejudices against domestic (Korean) English teachers; many foreign teachers are unqualified / not qualified--unlicensed, undocumented, or inexperienced.

The negative strongly believes that because education already costs money, hiring native English teachers provides the edge justifying the cost; there is a demand in English education, the government must supply it; this is a better alternative than sending a child to study in a foreign country for a year (e.g., "satellite" family); hogwans presently have foreign English teachers, thus we must compete otherwise public education will suffer.

Amusingly, the students were shy about polling near their native English teacher. Haha, I laughed.

The poll suggested unanimously seven students were against the measure. The resolution did not pass.

4 November minutes

Bundang High School should have athletic teams.

The affirmative claims that school sporting development helps students to become athletes in an environment they otherwise would not (how many Olympic athletes are "lost" to a Korean academic system?); brings school honor, national exposure; it will increase the number of competitive athletes in foreign organizations (e.g., English Premiership; MLB); the system does not adequately produce athletes; school is not just about studying--there should be a balance; other skills can be honed at school.

The negative claims it will cost too much money, will reduce an already limiting school budget meant for studying for sporting activities; practices disturb students who study; when exactly will practices occur? The school does not have neither the demand nor the resources to introduce athletic teams; "specialty" school, for example schools whose curricula specialize in taekwondo, badminton, and baseball already exist--students can attend those schools; how many clubs define athletic teams? Just for boys? Or girls, too? The "system" produces athletes just fine.

The poll suggested that two were for and five were against the measure. Four students were absent. The resolution did not pass.

30 October 2008

Word Description

Group five's (Oh Kyo-kwang and Cho Hae-in) late bout of genius Thursday impelled them to defeat group three 37 to 21, in "word description". Group four finished with twenty-two; group one, twenty; group two, seventeen.

Chosen to develop students patience in themselves and trust in their partners, and ultimately for debating, the warm-up consumed the entire forty-five minute elective period. Some groups were self-possessed. Others committed hysterical bloopers, yet others madlibs.

Descriptions included ball; city; pink; Saturday; car; Korea; dog; yes; Jang Han-su; chemistry; principal; coffee; computer; Samsung; thumb; rain; Toyota; Yeoju; king; Vietnam; apartment; Alex; sexy; crazy; handsome; France; sword; theater.

29 October 2008

29 October Minutes

In the first forum informal debate, resolution one was proposed, "Smoking infractions commited at school should be severely punished." Severely was not defined, assumed to be as disciplinary as a major infraction in the student handbook.

The entry poll suggested that four were for (Y) and seven were against (N) the measure.

Summary of the minutes are as follows: (Y) it must pass, it is not only a rule but a law; (Y) smoking is disruptive; (N) secondhand smoking should be severely punished, but not firsthand smoking at school. Positive countered, since when is it okay to smoke alone at school? Negative countered, smoking can never be eradicated; (Y) Regardless, firsthand smoking can still secondhand affect students; (N) the school should construct a school smoking zone (SSZ) to contain smokers; (Y) a special smoking area will encourage more students to join this smoking room! (Y) That is not the issue, smoking cannot be allowed to be on school grounds.

The exit poll suggested that five were for and six were against the measure. The resolution did not pass.

27 October 2008

Debate Shot

Introductory Discussion and Debate

Discussion and Debate provides mental fitness and fun. It is a forum to flush-out bad ideas. The course, built in integrity, upholds character development. We believe dispute is a powerful teacher. Mental challenges in a group context offer competitors the opportunity to mature leadership skills, self-confidence, and a commitment to others that will rouse them to lead productive lives. Debate includes practice in the manners of common social interactions. Proficiency is reinforced through reading in multiple areas of cultural studies. The class will include some speech etiquette in social exchanges. Classroom debating will help students grasp many essential critical thinking and presentation skills. Rapid exchanges will help develop clear reasoning, confidence, and partnerships.

Debating includes but is not limited to public
speaking, teamwork/cooperation, research, abstract thinking, analytical thinking, citizenship/ethics, cross-examination, point of view, distinguishing fact from opinion, identification of bias, organization of information, persuasion (Sunda 2006).

Last year's debate club reached the semi-finals thanks to the dedication of Mr. Ian Baddon and Ms. Yu Yoon-jeong.