Should DEBATE be a mandatory course in high school?

The high school I attended offered many electives. Some of the electives I took included Speech (the art of giving a speech in front of an audience) Advanced Speech, Dramatics, and Debate. Later in life the skills I learned still help me to deal with my business clients and even in social situations. Such skills, perhaps are priceless. I say such classes should be mandatory (maybe not dramatics). Anyone care to debate the value of debate?

Ehhhh I don’t know if it should be mandatory but it should be available at every school. The little high school I went to in B.F.E. didn’t offer debate hell we didn’t even have a football team. Sure it’s a nice class but is it cut out for everyone? Do you think a person working as an automechanic will need the skills taught in that class as much as a businessman? Nope not in my book anyways.

Actually I would have liked to have a debate class at my high school it would have been fun and interesting. Now that I think about it none of the local schools were I lived in rural Indiana ever offered debate. So if they were to ever go about making it mandatory like say an Econ or Government class first off they’d have to offer it at every school.

It WAS required in my High School. “Speech and Debate” class, and believe you me, there was a lot of debate going on in there. In addition, if you debated poorly, the teacher called you a “rockhead” and threatened to “stand on your face”.

Imagine a guy who acts and talks almost exactly like Shaft teaching you how to debate…

Well, I know that in the Formal Logic course I took in college, I was only able to eak out a C+ where several of my classmates Aced it. (The prof’s tests always required three hours of writing in a 55 minute period, and part of the grade was based on whether he felt you had addressed the “correct” questions. I consistently answered the questions that he did not care about–he and I never did see eye-to-eye on his presentation.)

Outside of class, those same A students would come to me to have their work proofed for consistency and logic.

My point? You can provide instructions in the subject matter (and, perhaps, we should), but taking a class will not turn anyone into logical, rational beings.

All I know is I could have done without the estimated 750 hours of advanced math and calculus for which I have no use, and with a few more hours of such things as

-home economics.

(And don’t get me started about how we spent a total of one hour in my entire high school career talking about anything having to do with gay people.)

Well, I took it under protest because it was required in one high school I attended. In retrospect, I added it to the required curriculum of ‘The School I Would Run If’.

I think it does help teach logical thinking, the formal logical fallacies and that sort of thing. Not to mention organizational and public speaking skills, which are helpful to just about everyone.

I think the biggest advantage is that it teaches the ways in which statistics and out-of-context quoting can be used to ‘prove’ anything. Once I realized what my opponents were doing (caught them quoting bits from evidence that actually supported my case when used in context), I quickly learned to do the same. That forever ended the problem of redtail believing something just because someone quoted an ‘authority’ or used statistics. :smiley:

We had a required “speech” class that included a unit on debates. I didn’t get much out of it, probably because a) it was a freshman class that I artfully avoided until my senior year, b) it wasn’t tracked, so there wasn’t an honors section, and c) Hi Opal! My fellow students didn’t seem to be getting much out of it, either. I trounced the other side when we were assigned to debate the War on Drugs. Problem is, I was assigned the “pro” position. Oy. As I recall, I concluded with “Of course, I don’t believe anything I’ve just told you. Legalize, tax, and regulate. Thank you.” Still got an A.

There’s no questioning the value of a good debate and speech class in just about any occupation, but I would stop a little short of requiring it for everyone. There are just so many subjects that also have great value, and arguably greated need, that we shouldn’t crowd out students’ time completely.

At the very least, it’s great training for identifying bullshit in arguments made by others, which can sponsor a satisfying avocation in message-board posting.

General critical thinking should be mandatory in HS, and it is taught at most elite private schools as a way to insure that the offspring of the wealthy get into good colleges from the admission tests, essays and interviews, and be able to govern afterwards (shhh, it’s a secret). The reason critical thinking is not mandatory is obvious. In case anyone doesn’t know what I’m talking about, it is not debate (which is relatively harmless), but more akin to thinking or decision skills related to logic, including the technical knowledge of style elements, such as being able to understand the psychological imagery of a film or TV commercial. A person with basic critical thinking skills is a threat to any top-down community and will never be a quiet little church-going citizen. However, any good editor or news producer is supposed to know it, including the knowledge of fallacies.

I was an extremely active debator in HS. It should never be mandatory.

Do you really want to teach every kid you went to high school with how to wise off to his parents in a way free of logical fallacies?

A little knowledge can be dangerous.

I took 4 years of debate in high school and I also agree that it shouldn’t be for everyone. To do it well requires an enormous amount of class, including weekend tournaments (often times in other cities). Asking that of every student is too much.
Even if we confined debates to just inside classrooms, it would still take quite a bit of research to do a good job on your given topic and an huge supply of resources (i.e. debate teachers). These teachers, who are in short supply now, must not only be dedicated to the task but GOOD at teaching debate.
Of course we’d have to make exceptions for those with learning disabilities, the deaf, possibily studderers (though it could, in fact, help them), and anybody else with a claim.

The one argument that doesn’t fly is that we shouldn’t offer debate because some professions don’t need it. ALL professions need it. Besides, anyone can say they don’t need math because they’re going to be a ballet dancer, they don’t need English because they’re going to move to France, they don’t need world history because they’re going to be an astronaut and will colonize Mars. When you’re in high school you don’t know what you’re going to do. Hell, I’m out of college and I still have no idea.

Getting the broadest education possible is a valid goal for secondary schools in the US. I just think debate is a little far reaching at this point.

No No No. Debate, like all other public performance activites should never be required. Offered, sure. Perhaps even recommended. But to require it is just cruel.

I remember in Junior High, my very first elective choice was between band and “Speech, Art, Music”. I chose band because a group performance activity was marginally more palatable than an individual performance activity. I still resent being forced into that.

Should debate class be required?


Well, yes.

Hmm. I’m not sure.

Ummm, maybe…

As a member of my school’s debate team, I’d have to give a strong no. Debate is very time consuming (1 entire saturday a month, few hours of writing cases, 45 mins per round) demanding intellectually, and often frustrating. Many people simply cut out for it. Practiacality also would be a problem in that the entire school would have to attend meets and meetings. Furthermore, debaters need parents to judge these rounds. If every, or even a few schools made it mandatory you would need a fleet of buses, and a stadium to do meets.

As it stands in my school now, debate is reserved for the dedicated, cognizant, few. Why cheapen that by making it mandatory?

Of course, a public speaking course is definitly good to have, and should always be offered, but it shouldn’t be required.