Andrew Curran Wesleyan Professor on the Benefits of Debating in Schools

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Debating is something which taught me an awful lot about myself and it is something which I spent much of my university years being obsessed with. During that time I would regularly debate with my close friend Andrew Curran Wesleyan professor no less, but in those days he was a student like the rest of us. I still speak with Andrew and in a recent email exchange we were talking about the benefits of debating and how more schools and colleges should introduce this into their syllabus. I wanted to share with you what Andrew had to say on the matter, take a look and see if you agree.

Competition

Growing up New Haven, Hartford, CT, life was pretty competitive and this is something which I took into my debates. Andrew on the other hand didn’t have this kind of upbringing but he confesses that it was debating which brought out the competitive spirit in him. Andrew remarked about how many schools across the country are seeking to remove competition from many aspects of their education system, something which he believes is a mistake. It is his belief that through encouraging debate we can teach our kids how to win with grace and how to lose without complaint or retaliation, vital skills which they will need in the real world.

Confidence

It is vital that our schools and colleges are doing all that they can to instill confidence in the young men and women who study and Andrew believes that a great way in which we can do this is through the encouragement of debate. When a child stands up in front of the class and puts forward an argument on a particular topic, they are making themselves completely vulnerable in front of their peers. This experience is absolutely vital in building confidence of young people and it is why, in Andrew’s view, he believes that debates should happen at every school level.

Understanding All Sides

Somewhat surprisingly my friend remarked about his favorite debates were those when he had to argue against something which he did actually believe in, and he believes that this is how we can greatly help our students. When you are argue against your own opinion it gives you the chance to look at all sides of the argument and form a far more fact-based opinion. Andrew also suggests that this is vital when we are trying to teach our kids how to be empathetic and how to better understand the world as a whole. People will always have different opinions on relevant topics and understanding why is a great tool in helping to give us a more rounded character.

What are your thoughts on debating in schools? do you agree with Andrew in that it should be much more encouraged, or do you think that everything is fine just the way that it is?


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