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!

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