The Benefits of Arguing


Anna Fenkel, Staff Writer

Debate is ARGUABLY the most helpful and valuable club at Harriton.

Decades of research have proven that the benefits that form as a result of engaging in debate are close to endless. Debate provides experiences that are conducive to life-changing, cognitive, and presentational skills.

In addition, through debate, debaters acquire unique educational benefits, as they learn and polish skills far beyond what can be developed in any other situation, such as any class or most extracurriculars.

The normal debate experience (at Harriton and nationwide) consists of breaking down a monthly topic and defining it- these topics can range from gun control to foreign policy and everything in between. It begins by making a pro and con list and dissecting and researching to find the strongest arguments and points.

The debates are then formed. This usually take the form of a typical 5 paragraph persuasive essay, but in much more depth with heavy evidence. The tournaments can range anywhere from 2 to 6 rounds where all teams will debate both sides. In these debates, the students will speak on topics already written or completely on the spot. This whole process is what develops life long skills that are required in almost every profession.

At the very least, debate helps learners to see the power of using rational, reasoned arguments and compelling evidence in action. It enables them to communicate their standpoint and creates a great sense of poise and confidence. It teaches participants the skills of researching, organizing, and presenting information in a compelling way.

In general, the benefits of debate include: increasing students’ confidence, poise, and self-esteem, providing an engaging, active, learner-centered activity, improving rigorous higher order and critical thinking skills, enhancing the ability to structure and organize thoughts, enhancing learners’ analytical, research and note-taking skills, improving the debaters’ ability to form balanced, informed arguments and to use reasoning and evidence, developing effective speech composition and delivery, and encouraging teamwork.

The Harriton Debate Club teaches the debate format and structure along with facilitating practice debates where students can work on their skills. Students grow to become more confident public speakers and thinkers, by looking at things from a different point of view and learning how to deliver an argument effectively using persuasive tools.

But by far the most crucial thing that debate teaches is confidence, which is ARGUABLY the most important trait to have for life.