Debating has a range of benefits both socially and academically. It can help improve language skills and enhances the students’ ability to put together ideas in an engaging and cohesive manner. The confidence students gain when they take part in debating helps them break through the typical teenage boy stereotype, allowing them to test their arguing skills and world knowledge in an intelligent and competitive arena.
Debating helps build confidence in how to deliver a speech by expressing and supporting your opinions, and making sure they are backed up with valid points. It also teaches students how to hold themselves in front of an audience in terms of gestures, poise, stance etc. Leaders must be able to speak confidently and clearly, always engaging their audiences and convincing them of a certain point of view. Many of our debaters go to careers such as politics, teaching and law.
The students are not short of opinions – there’s no problem there! But having an opinion and having a researched, articulated opinion are two different things. Quite often you see opinions flying about these days without a lot of substance. These guys have to come up with some ideas and back them up, otherwise they’ll get shot down by the opposition.
Debating allows students to work with a range of different people and encourages them to make new friendships. To be successful, the students must learn how to construct cohesive ideas in a short time frame as well as develop their analytical skills. Every year they are exposed to real-world issues and current affairs.
If you have a look at your results before you start debating, you won’t be as good in English say, but then in the long run, you will improve and you will be better at essay writing. Which is essential to school life. It also helps you think on your feet. So whenever you get a speech in class you think ‘Ahh that’s easy now’, you know how to structure it. It does help that a lot.
I think debating builds your confidence; your ability to get up and speak in front of people is a lot stronger. Also it helps you with your general knowledge because you have to learn these topics and it gives you an ability to speak passionately.
In the future, you never know where you’re going to end up, or which path you’ll take, so having debating skills to be able to talk in front of an audience is really valuable.
In debating, sometimes you may not always agree with your allocated argument on a particular topic. This puts students in an uncomfortable position. But it’s just debating, you’ve got to have some empathy and put yourself in someone else’s position.
This develops ‘outside the box’ thinking and helps expand the students’ intellectual horizons. Their ability to think critically is enhanced and they face situations with a more mature and open-minded approach.
It allows you to listen to another person’s point of view and see it from their perspective and either go, ‘Ok, that’s a fair point,’ or ‘No, that’s wrong and here’s why. That really helps you get the ability to get up and ‘act’ on your topic and hit home your point. I think that’s really helpful later on in life.
It’s about building up your public speaking strength. It helps you speak better in public as well as to other people.
The atmosphere on a regular Friday night debate is similar to a sports match. It’s competitive and energetic while the students prepare. The atmosphere in the preparation room is intense and fast-paced. They only have one hour alone in a room with their team. So there’s a lot of energy running through as they set up to debate.
On that hour thing, I’m third speaker and I have to write half my speech in the debate. So you have to be able to absorb all the information being given and pick out the best – or in my case, the worst points – that they’ve brought up. You have to absorb that information, write it down and then, while you’re writing, think of arguments to counteract it. It’s that quick thinking on your feet and quick note-taking that I think really helps and will be great for Uni. It’s fun!
Good sportsmanship is crucial. The students are essentially arguing and attempting to tear down another person’s ideas. They need to do this tastefully and receive rebuttals with good nature. The resilience they build is emotional, as opposed to physical. It helps build a man of character as they learn to listen to each other, respect those who are less intellectual than themselves, and not put people down in front of others.
I’m impressed with the confidence they show when they get up in front of people. They’ve been together since year 7, so they’re used to getting up and talking in public, and they do a very good job of it.
Our parents are really supportive, they’ll come along and watch you debate and give you some feedback after. It’s great encouragement. We’re all good mates now, we know how to work together in the debate and if we get a group task in a subject, we’d be able to function well, which is good.