By: Ana Perez, 9th Grade
Debate at the New Horizons School is known as a competitive activity to practice speech, argumentation, and research open to all students who are interested between 6th – 12th grade. Several new students from all grades joined the debate team in the 2021 school year, especially in 7th and 8th grade. But are there any benefits to joining a debate team in middle school?
Debate is said to improve critical thinking skills, investigative skills, argumentation, writing, quick-thinking, argumentation, and conflict resolution among students. Students that are in a debate team are also found to have better grades than non-debate students. And debate improves diligence among students – the more invested they are in debate, the more likely they are to work hard while researching and participating in rounds.
On average, more debate students enrol at top schools compared to non-debate students and score higher on the Reading & Writing Section of the SAT (Scholastic Ability Test) and the ACT (American College Test), allowing them to have better chances to enter an elite college. Being a debate team member also makes your college applications look more attractive; if you’re planning to study abroad from an early age, entering the debate team could help you get accepted or get a scholarship. Debate could also help you with your homework – with all the research into world history and important socioeconomic and political issues, it’s likely that you’ll have previous knowledge in several topics.
Debate is also a fun activity for students. Going to tournaments, chatting with your friends during the bus ride, talking badly about your opponents after rounds, and spending a lot of time trying to guess how elimination rounds will play out are all part of the debate experience. And fun outweighs all harms.
According to former debaters, debate has helped them with socializing and improving their self-esteem. “I was very shy and had low self-esteem. If you stepped on my foot, I would apologize. Getting past those inhibitions and becoming more confident has just been great. Now I’m able to talk to people and communicate my ideas — and I talk a lot more in class too,” said a student who has been in debate for three years. Debate can build up confidence and persuasion skills – something that is going to benefit middle schoolers in the long run.
And what are the miscellaneous benefits? You get to leave school early when participating on a local tournament, you get to travel to either Harvard University (Boston) or Georgetown University (Washington D.C) if you’re going to participate in an international tournament, you might even get to skip your least favorite class, an exam, or a presentation, and you get to flex the trophies you win.
In conclusion, joining debate at an early age is not only going to benefit you academically but socially, although it might be a big commitment for some. But debate is a beneficial and fun activity, which is going to turn easier and more enjoyable the sooner you sign up.
- Lynch, M. (2021, April 1). 14 Ways to Support Students Who Cannot Write Within a Given Space. The Edvocate. https://www.theedadvocate.org/the-benefits-of-debating/
- Explore Membership Students. (n.d.). National Speech & Debate Association. Retrieved October 19, 2021, from https://www.speechanddebate.org/explore-membership-students/
- Shackelford, T., Ratliff, S., & Mezuk, B. (2019, March 27). Participating in a high school debate program and college matriculation and completion: Evidence from the Chicago Debate League. Academic Journals. Retrieved October 19, 2021, from https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/EJ1218569.pdf
- 5 Advantages of Enrolling Your Child in Speech and Debate Classes. (n.d.). Early Scholars. Retrieved October 19, 2021, from https://www.earlyscholars.org/blog/5-advantages-of-enrolling-your-child-in-speech-and-debate-classes
- Shah, P. (n.d.). Debate Participation as the Ultimate SAT Test Prep. DebateUS. Retrieved October 19, 2021, from https://new.debateus.org/debate-participation-as-the-ultimate-sat-test-prep/