The Power of Debate — Testimonials

From a Facebook discussion…

C Crenshaw

Request for Debate Friends: Can you please help me? Please write a brief one or two sentence comment about why debate matters. Please also put down whatever you consider your “occupation” to be and give me permission to quote you.

Angi Horn Stalnaker Debate gave a girl from a small town the opportunity to travel across the country, meet people from different cultures and backgrounds, learn to express myself without hesitation and to receive a scholarship to college. I use the research, analysis and communication skills I learned in debate in my professional career everyday. Without my time on high school and college debate teams, I would not be who I am today.

David Leblang Debate taught me how to do research: how to find and digest information quickly and efficiently. It taught me how to synthesize arguments. And it taught me that there are often more than two sides to many issues. It also taught me the importance of specificity–often we disagree with one another because we define our terms differently. Setting the terms of debate/discussion is critical to having a constructive discussion.

David Steinberg Just had to supply some quotes to Miami Herald writer….

Academic debate is a co-curricular activity that opens doors and opens minds for student participants. It is one of the single most valuable educational experiences available.

The skills and confidence produced by debate come in part from its addictive nature. Kids fall in love with the competition, the social interactions, and the relationships they build with teachers and members of the debate community. Then, without even realizing how hard they are working, they grow and develop as students and people.

Debate produces self-confidence, critical thinking, reading, writing and speaking competencies, content area knowledge, organization and time management, and perhaps most important of all, listening skills. Student debaters take these skills to their classes and their lives, magnifying the benefits of debate as every other class and life experience is informed and facilitated by what they take from debate.

In a world impacted by “fake news” and “alternative facts” debate training has never been more important. Debate students learn to critically evaluate information, to advocate from knowledge, and to make reasoned decisions. They are better citizens as a result of debate participation.

Thomas E. Jewell Debate has been, by far, the most valuable learning activity I have ever engaged in, including my undergraduate, graduate, and law school education. It taught me how to think (for myself), find and evaluate information, organize ideas, and present my thoughts effectively in speaking and writing. I had a fine formal education but high school and college debate was and has been my doorway into the life of the mind.

Jan Hovden Debate is a unique extracurricular activity. It provides transferable skills–critical thinking, problem solving, public speaking, and listening–that help students achieve future success.

Matthew N Fraser Take any part of this you want, or none at all. Sorry I’m so bad at following directions!

My experience in the world of debate gave me the skills and strength to stand my ground in the defense of my own values. Because of this I was able at the age of 17 to convince the ACLU and my parents to help me litigate a free speech case against my school district that eventually became the final decision of the Burger Court, a US Supreme Court case called Bethel v Fraser, and if nothing else that was for me the experience of a lifetime. I then fashioned a career as a teacher, coach and debate team business manager for 25 years at both Stanford University and one of the nation’s top private high schools. Former students to name just a few include a Hollywood agent, advisers to President Obama, and the newly named chief trial counsel for the CA State Bar (with responsibility for enforcing attorney ethics for all the attorneys in the entire State of California). All the while I built a summer camp company with those same skills and abilities, called Education Unlimited, and that is now one of the larger and faster growing summer program organizations for kids and teens in the US, with nearly 3,000 camper sessions and hundreds of summer employees for the summer of 2017. All of this has been possible because of a few years of high school and college debate. The debate world has produced lifelong friendships for most serious participants, hundreds or even thousands of marriages and families, numerous teachers, professors, and non-profit leaders, some of the nation’s leading attorneys and business leaders, and numerous Presidential advisors. I met my own wonderful wife through the world of debate, and we have a beautiful 3 year old daughter. While it did nothing to minimize my verbosity, there is no other activity I know of for high school or college students where serious participation can yield such profound, positive, and lasting effects.

David Everett Marko Debate taught me to never personalize disagreement and to be fearless.

Christopher Wheatley Debate is epistemic. It’s how one learns to learn. It’s also a powerful tool in helping a person find their voice. Finally, it improves reading and thinking skills and promotes creative thought.

Miguel M. de la O Debate taught me how to deconstruct an argument in real time, quickly finds its weaknesses, and explain them succinctly. Debate gave a poor kid from Miami’s inner city the confidence to stand up and intellectually compete against the best of the best on an even playing field. It made me a better student, a better lawyer, and hopefully a good judge.

David Everett Marko I want to change my answer to everyone else’s! ?

Kristi Morioka People are all searching for identity, community and a sense of purpose. The activity of Debate provides all of those things and an extended family that stretches around the globe. Any former debater needs an informational interview, an introduction to interview, an introduction to someone important, research help, or lunch with a friend – all they have to do is ask! Learning Critical thinking skills through an activity like debate makes them sec nature, a part of you and who you are. Kristi Morioka – healthcare attorney

Deon Garner Deon Garner As a participant, debate has been the singular-most life-defining experience that I have embraced; it shaped the foundation for who I am today (educator, pastor, orator, grant writer). As a coach and administrator, I have seen the activity open up and offer educational and personal opportunities for growth, reflection, and more growth. I have watched students from contrapositive worlds come together and work together toward a common goal. It teaches everyone that they can be champions.

Leah Jewell  Debate taught me how to research, construct and deconstruct an argument, and how to ask effective questions to get to the heart of an issue. It forced me to be concise in my writing and speaking. I learned how some arguments are more important and compelling than others. It reinforced the concept that that there are multiple sides to everything and that you can find someone to say almost anything- and that doesn’t always make it true. As a result, I have a better ability to sort through credible and fake news. It helped me develop and refine my public speaking skills. I consider debate the best preparation for every job I’ve had since graduating from college– from sales and marketing to my current job as the Managing Director for Employability Solutions at Pearson.

Buck Williams I love debate. My outlet for it is Facebook. Debate makes you think. It is stimulating. It challenges you to acquire in depth knowledge of your subject and be assertive in the defense or advocacy of it.

Stefan Bauschard I agree with everything that has been said above and would add a two points —

Friends. There are many wonderful people in debate — “wonderful” being friend, kind, generous, supportive, ambitious, encouraging, brilliant. As a student, being absorbed with friends like this pushes you, empowers you, sets and sustains high expectations.

As an adult, you not only enjoy their friendship, but when you need a little help, those people are always there for you, and, in a selfish way, I guess, I think these people can help you more than many others. The debate friendship network is powerful, brilliant, and includes some of the leading people in their respective fields. We all depend on each other more than we want to realize sometimes, and I find it difficult to imagine a stronger group of people to be tied to.

Gamification.. This is a “new” area of educational theory that attaches motivation for learning to competition and emphasizes the development of appropriate games to support learning. I think this is something debate figured out 100 years ago…