Big or Small: Debate in Your Life

3893213ce63c46b4b1482fc529f8bbaaPeople engage in arguments every day. Whether it’s between fiancés deciding who to invite to the big day, a dad who wants his 6 year old daughter to eat her vegetables, and a 6 year old daughter who would rather feed them to the dog, or a hardworking employee who wants a raise, and a boss who would rather spend the company’s money “somewhere else”; debate is all around us. Debate is at home, debate is at the workplace, debate is in the grocery store, debate is at school, debate is even in the car on the way to your second cousin’s best friend’s neighbor’s uncle’s half birthday party. Pick a place, any place, and I guarantee that at some point in that place, you will find debate.

We make decisions every day. We decide to get up in the morning, to brush our teeth, to go to work or school, and to have a double bacon cheeseburger topped off with a fried egg for dinner. Or… not. Salad. Yeah, salad is good, too. Regardless of what decisions you are making, you also have the choice to decide against something. To not get up in the morning, to not brush your teeth, to not got to work or school; these are all options that you have. What does decision making have to do with debate? More often than not, the decisions you make affect the people surrounding you. For instance, brushing your teeth. If you decide against brushing your teeth tomorrow morning, the smell of your morning breath might just creep its way up into your friend’s nostrils. This might just cause your friend to react by saying, “Uh, dude, there’s something called a toothbrush. Or a mint, even easier… just fix that bad breath.” Now, you are offended. You made the decision to not brush your teeth this morning and whatever your friend has to say about it he can keep it to himself, right? Wrong. You can never count on anybody to keep their opinions to themselves. We’re all human, we tend to say what we feel or think. However, you’re mad. In fact, you’re fired up. What right does he have to make fun of your morning breath? You like your morning breath! And you know what, you’re going to give him a piece of your mind. There. Right there is the start of an everyday argument. Based on decision-making and difference in personal opinion, you and your friend are about to engage in a casual debate. So, what can you do to help prove your point?

See below for inside tips from Penn State Speech and Debate Society President and PA State debate competition 2015 second place winner, William Patton. He will be guiding the March Forward Consulting debate workshop on August 15th, 16th, and 18th!

-Olivia Hunt


Critical thinking, public speaking, and logical reasoning. These three skills are essential in the development of adolescents as they transition from high school to college and college to the professional world.
Tragically, few students encounter lessons which directly sharpen their ability to critically think, use logical reasoning, and eloquently talk about issues to other people in depth. However, all hope is not lost!
Debate offers a fun, educational, and informative method to explicitly work on those three vital skills and others that set students up for success in life. For example, in preparing for and practicing debate students learn how to research, take effective notes, build listening skills, organize ideas, collaborate with others, become better conversationalists, look at issues from multiple points of view, and of course critically think, reason, and speak clearly and affirmatively.
Debate is not just in the courtrooms, it is all around us; from the child reasoning with her mother for another piece of cake to the entry level employee “making a case” for a promotion. Those who learn to master the skills surrounding debate will not only have sharper cognitive and communicative abilities but will also a leg up from the classroom to the boardroom.
Joining the debate team at Penn State changed my life forever, it has taken me all across the country; anywhere from D.C. to Nebraska and allowed me to meet young intellectuals from all walks of life. The world is becoming more complex everyday it is important that we arm our youth with the proper cognitive tools as the future will soon be in their hands.
These three things will aid you in creating the strongest argument possible!
-William Patton

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