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A concerned member of the human race

Monday, November 3, 2014

To Debate Or Not To Debate?

This year I have again answered student pleas for extra credit by offering the option of a debate.  I initially thought we might debate the positive and negative uses of cellphones in schools, but students thought this might be beating a dead horse.  So, as the best teachers do, I illustrated flexibility.  I asked interested students to suggest their own possible topics.  We, then, took a vote.

I followed this strategy in all five classes.  And, you know what?  All five classes settled on different topics.  My first class decided to debate whether or not historically-based video games could prove useful in the study of history.  The next class settled on the legalization of marijuana.  Other classes chose other topics: year-round education, abortion and the right to bear arms.

I love debates.  They allow even the quiet students a structured forum for argumentation.  The classes generally seem to love debate.  And, I recall my fondest memories of A.P.  U.S. History.  When no one else would volunteer in September, I agreed to defend the British in the American Revolution.  From there, I went on to participate in every debate for the remainder of the year.

I learned to see things through different eyes, to anticipate the ideas of the other side and fire away, if necessary.  I believe it is only through open discussion, open ears and an appreciation of opposing viewpoints that we can better understand our own values, their strengths as well as their weaknesses.  

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