Debate is a great device for engaging students and bringing life to the classroom. Using debates in the classroom can help students understand essential critical-thinking and presentation skills. Classroom debates can nurture rational thinking, citizenship, manners, organization of thoughts, persuasion and public speaking. Student debate has the capability to deeply engage the students in relevant learning and to inspire students to be deep thinkers. More than just arguing, the structure and rules of a debate are designed to keep both sides calm.
A good teacher will also avoid generic, clichéd or over-debated subjects that stimulate philosophical bias and make the debate topics relevant to content that has being learned by students. When accomplished, classroom debates will engage students that normally do not participate in class.
Class debates give students the opportunity to test their thoughts and views against that of their peers. It is important to set the right tone for discussion in the classroom early on in the semester to establish a rapport with students. Studies have shown that students who contribute to class conversations early are much more likely to continue contributing to class discussions later on. Therefore, it is vital to find ways to involve all students in the classroom debates.
Classroom debate ideas:
The following ideas provide a great starting point for using debates in the classroom:
- Fairy Tales
Fairy tales challenge students to think about honesty and ethics.
- Four Corners Debate
A debate strategy gets kids thinking and moving
- Inner circle- outer circle
This debate strategy emphasizes listening to others’ views and writing an opinion essay.
- Role-play debate
Students assume the roles of various stakeholders in debates on issues of high interest.
Features of a good debate:
A good debate is like art. It may be hard to describe it, but you’ll know it when you hear it. Here are 5 traits of a good debate:
- Convenience: Students feel comfortable engaging in the debate.
- Non-combative: A pleasant and pleasurable tone to the discussion with no hostility.
- Diverse: An assortment of opinions and points of view get verbalised.
- Unity and focus: Discussions should have a pedagogical goal.
- Trust: An environment that allows students to take intellectual risks.
Features of a bad debate:
- Limited participants: Only few students participate.
- Restricted viewpoints: Students echo instructor’s thoughts that limit diversity of opinions.
- Lack of focus: Debates go off-topic and miss the academic aim.