What extracurriculars require 12 to 17-year-olds to get in suits and ties and speak 400 words per minute at 8:30 in the morning? If you guessed debate then you would be correct. Debate is a grueling yet rewarding test of wits and eloquence. In its most basic form debate is an organized argument in which two or more parties make a case in which they advocate or reject a certain topic. The history of debate goes as far as to Ancient Greece in which moral ideology, philosophical principles, and even political beliefs were argued in a formal setting. The debates that took place in Ancient Greece actually parallel modern-day debates in the sense that the topics of policies and morality are discussed as well as the formalized structure of arguments. The skills learned from debate as well as debate itself can be used in any walk of life. Disagreements take place every day and debate helps individuals argue more logically and appealingly.
The extracurricular takes many shapes and forms but all help to build upon the skills of argumentation, intelligence, eloquence, and persuasion. Debate is not condensed into one stage but rather is a chain of activities that lead to the debate itself. Some of the activities are evidence cutting, speaking drills, practice debates, and case building. Before going out to a tournament all these steps and more most take place in order to have a productive and educational debate experience. Each step comes with its own set of challenges and benefits. For instance, evidence cutting through long and tedious helps debaters discern the credibility of a source, and decipher what the main idea of a confusing passage. Debate itself also helps to build confidence, discipline and social skills. Sure some skills can be gained through similar extracurriculars such as Model United Nations or Mock Trial however, these activities do not help individuals to learn the art of debate. Model United Nations or Mock Trial only help to model or mock a certain setting thus the skills developed from does activity are less applicable. However, debate does not focus on modeling an environment but rather let debaters argue and build an environment suited to the flow of the debate. Lydon B. Johnson the 36th president of the United States even did debate and he won the county title. Many debaters actually believe the skills they gained from debate was very helpful and applicable to their lives. For instance, I interviewed Eunice Kim, a debater of 3 years, and she said “I have gained confidence in my public speaking skills and general knowledge. I got to meet a lot of people from different schools that share the same interest as me.
All in all, debate will be one of the most useful and applicable extracurricular for students. Debate has personally helped me develop my argumentation skills as well as increase my confidence in public speaking. The extracurricular activity has helped many students like me and you to think more critically while articulating their ideas persuasively. Debate is an activity I encourage anyone to take part in as it has helped me and many other students.
Joseph Kim/Lexington Junior High 8th
<Joseph Kim/Lexington Junior High 8th