The Art of Debating

What is a Debate?
 A formal, verbal presentation of opposing sides of

an issue by teams or individuals before an audience or judge  Follows a clearly defined format
Who speaks first and last  How long each team/individual speaks

 Used to strengthen and extend students‟

understanding of an issue and to help students develop and demonstrate cognitive thinking, research, and public speaking skills

Debating as an Activity
 In a debate, speakers must speak

spontaneously, even though they have prepared their arguments ahead of time
 It is essential that the debaters listen carefully

to each speaker and then quickly plan how they will present their own arguments in the most strategic manner

Debating as an Activity
 In many classrooms, a debate occurs on a

“one-shot” basis
 The debate is presented as an activity

The students participate in one debate and then they move on to other activities in the subject area

Debating as an Activity
 Students will develop their speaking and listening

skills by participating in several debates or debating activities
 The speaking and listening skills essential to

debating develop over time

The students must practice debating, as well as reflect on their own and their peers presentations

A Good Proposition for Debate
 The proposition is the arguable statement  The negative team argues against the proposition  The positive team argues for the proposition

 Can be argued on both sides  Contains an idea  Is relevant and significant  Is controversial

Two Types of Debate Propositions
 Based on Action or Policy

Something should happen

 Based on Values

That one position or belief is deemed better than another

Proving the Argument
 The key in debating is the proof of arguments  Proof can be in the form of either logical reasoning or evidence  Logical proof is based on common sense and

common knowledge

Value debates usually use this type of proof, which is more subjective Debaters use logic and common sense to build a convincing case

Proving the Argument
 Evidence includes facts and statistics from reliable

sources

Action or policy debates usually use this type of proof, although they may use both types

Time Keepers & Judges
 During a formal debate, participants must follow

established procedures and rules  In this case, a time keeper is necessary to keep track of each person‟s speaking time and the time given to team to prepare arguments and rebuttals during the debate

Debate Procedures
 There are several different academic debate procedures

that the teacher and students might explore  Standard debate teams usually have 2 people on each side, although teacher can adapt this formal to include more students  The standard format uses 2 types of speeches: constructive speeches & rebuttal speeches  Constructive speeches are those that present the side‟s argument  Rebuttal speeches are those that the side develops during preparation time to try to counteract the arguments of the opposing side

Arguing the Affirmative
Because the affirmative side is the one proposing a change and

calling for action, the onus is on the affirmative to prove its position should be adopted. The affirmative side needs to put together its arguments in order to convince that change is necessary and will make things better than they are now. This involves:
    

Pointing out problems with the current situation (the "status quo") Convincing that the problems are significant Pointing out benefits of the proposed change Finding reliable experts to back up the claims Predicting what the opposing arguments will be and developing counter arguments Planning for a logical flow in the presentation of arguments.

Arguing the Negative
The negative side's task is simply to defeat the

affirmative's position. This involves:

Developing arguments in defense of the present system or status quo Convincing that any problems referred to by the affirmative are insignificant

Developing reasons for opposing the affirmative's proposition
Finding reliable experts to back up the opposition Questioning the affirmative's proof.

 

Considerations for the Classroom
Should not be used until the classroom comfort

level has been established

Require a clear understanding of the value of

positive versus negative argumentation

Require an awareness of sensitive, shy, or reticent

students

Are usually moderated by the teacher (or a capable

student leader for upper grades and/or mature classes).

Debate Scenario
A new state of the art video game, Mafia Hit-Man 2005, is about to hit the market. This game asks the user to take on the role of a professional hit man. The user will take on „contracts‟ of various difficulty and perform the assigned tasks for money and reputation points. These contracts involve the simple task of eliminating a mobsnitch, the moderate tasks of wiping out a cops‟ family the difficult task of the assassination of the president or other high ranking government officials. This game uses the new „Gore-Extreme‟ game engine. It incorporates realistic blood spattering and rag-doll physics.

Debate Scenario

Word of this game has reached the media and several groups are expressing outrage that the game has only received a „Teen‟ rating. Parental groups are angered over the explicit violence and disrespect for the law portrayed in the game. Politicians, eager for reelection, are joining parental groups in voicing their concerns.

Debate Scenario

Many are promising stricter laws and regulations on video game companies. Some go as far as to suggest that children, playing these violent games develop anti-social behavior and even model their actions on the actions seen in these games.

Debate Scenario

Game companies and retailers disagree with these points and view their products as „just games‟. Many view themselves as scapegoats for deeper societal problems. Game companies suggest that if parents took a stronger interest in their children‟s hobbies and habits there would be no need for regulation within the video game community.

Today‟s Debate Activity
 Work with your group to expand upon your

position and point of view. Keep in mind that you must stick to the point of view of the stakeholder group you have been assigned.
 We will regroup in 10-12 minutes for the debate.

Roles
 Moderator (normally a student, can be the teacher)  Panel of judges  Time keeper

 Diverse groups:  Parents (#1)  Government (#2)  Kids (#3)  Game companies (#4)  Retailers (#5)

Debate Scenario

Through Debate, the Students can…
Develop positive attitudes toward the intellectual exchange

of ideas
Develop an interest in the investigation of issues and

problems
Become more adept at developing and putting forward ideas Learn to think quickly

Learn to work as a team
Develop leadership skills Develop speaking and listening skills.

 20 minute pres  10-15 discussion  50 min debate  1 min opening statement (5)  2 min rebuttals (10)  2 min regroup  Questions/comments (20 min)  Closing statements (10)

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