By Irina Costache
It is not uncommon to hear that many students join debate just to bulk up their resume for when they eventually apply to colleges. While it is true that joining debate can help improve an applicant’s success in college applications, this is hardly the only reason for joining. In fact, the skills learned in debate will be far more valuable and carry a competitor much farther through their life than just college applications! Here are a list of some of of the many skills that your child will learn if they join debate.
1. Produces public speaking skills
Students who are involved in debate learn the importance of “ethos, logos, and pathos” in conducting a strong speech that convinces their audience as well as how to organize their speeches to be efficient and easily comprehensible. They are challenged to do this in a number of seconds before their speech, thus also improving their ability to think quickly under pressure.
These skills are valuable in every job field that a debater may pursue. Whether is it in an interview, pitching an idea, or reporting on research, it’s crucial that students can communicate effectively in a professional and social atmosphere.
2. Builds confidence
Winning a debate round requires competitors to convince their judge that they are making the most strong and logical argument. The way in which a debater delivers their speech will make all the difference in whether they win or lose the round.
During speeches or cross examination, debaters have to project the image of being believable and knowledgeable in the argument they are building, regardless of whether they feel they may be winning or losing the round. As a result, students learn how to show that they are confident and worth believing - a skill that is very important for building future leaders.
3. Learn teamwork and collaboration
When competing in debate, students usually work in teams of two with a partner. In this environment students learn how to work alongside one another, building their abilities to lead, but also compromise.
Oftentimes, debaters must take initiatives in their partnership. This may look like designating tasks of research to be done or coming up with new strategies for winning rounds. Whatever it may be, debating in teams helps students build the crucial skill of supporting a teammate through their own leadership and knowledge.
On the flip side, paired debating also challenges debaters to collaborate during disputes. It is very common for partners to want to research different arguments, or use a different strategy in a round. Every opinion is valid, so pairs must work together to find ways to reach a compromise.
4. Research skills
A great majority of in-round success comes from outside of the round prep work. Debaters spend hours finding, reading, and piecing together evidence in order to build strong, round-winning cases. They learn what a legitimate source looks like and how to spot when an opponent may be falsifying or changing evidence. Students also learn how to search for evidence by using keywords and navigate large research papers.
This is a skill that helps tremendously in academic settings. Throughout their academic career, students will have many assignments requiring them to synthesize information to form arguments. By being able to delve deeper into research and analyzing it, debaters will stand out amongst their peers.
5. Expands scope of world-view and personal belief
Because debate is so competitive, most competing teams usually strive to create unique arguments that are interesting to the judge and challenging for their opponent to refute. Debate pushes competitors to assemble a case by researching ideas from multiple angles. Students must step back and think beyond their initial ideas by researching issues to explore new, uncommon arguments.
Furthermore, a debater is required to prepare both a pro and con case when competing. Thus, debate challenges students to find and write an argumentative case for an idea that they may not personally believe in.
6. Builds empathy
As explained before, debaters are required to prepare an argument for both sides of the resolution. Even though competitors might not initially agree with the points that they are making, through practice they will begin to feel much more confident arguing for sides that differ from their personal beliefs.
Having to rationalize the logic and thought process of an opposing side ultimately gives debaters the unique ability to step into the point of view of another. Such a skill is very important when working collaboratively in every career field.
By competing in debate, students will have built a very solid foundation for anything they chose to pursue in the future! No matter if they go into engineering, medicine, or law, the strong verbal and writing skills developed in debate make these people stand out.