The Benefits of Being a High School Debater

By Mia Speier ’18

My freshman year, I joined the debate team with absolutely no notion of what I had gotten myself into. My original thought was that debate would be a club where students would simply argue back and forth against one another. What I didn’t know is the amount of research, hard work and late nights being a member of the Speech and Debate team demanded. However, all of the sleepless nights are absolutely worth it because the amount of knowledge I gained by debating amounts to much more than what most students learn in a classroom. Screen Shot 2015-09-22 at 5.18.25 PM As stated by the International Debate Education, debate emphasizes “critical thinking, effective communication, independent research and teamwork, debate teaches skills that serve individuals well in school, in the workplace, in political life and in fulfilling their responsibilities as citizens of democratic societies.” Debate has an air of knowledge and versatility that serves well in any career. Not only did it make me more aware of the difficulties faced by individuals internationally, but it also made me aware of the moral quandaries policy makers overcome every day.

When I first started debating, I knew absolutely nothing about philosophy and foreign policy, but as I began to research topics such as “Just governments ought to ensure food security for their citizens” and “Just governments ought to procure organs from the deceased”, I delved deeper and deeper into problems I  had never thought existed. By being a debater, I am  learning so much about the world and how policymakers make their decisions. Along with learning about international relations and governments, debaters gain a heavy understanding of complex philosophical concepts. Students who are debaters better understand and realize that there are so many components of their everyday life, but also about life and relations outside of their country. Screen Shot 2015-09-23 at 6.48.44 PM

With the way debate is formatted, students have to research and argue both sides of the topic, whether it is the affirmative or negative. The importance of always knowing and understanding the other part of the story is a unique benefit of debating. Most people form their own opinions and have their own views on everything from politics to people, but debating both sides of a situation forces you to question what you think and formulate beliefs with more knowledge of the topic.

Lastly, debate is a great way to meet new people from different schools and different states. Debaters get the opportunity to meet so many intellectual thinkers who share the similar interests but have vastly different opinions that are worth arguing—that is what debate is all about.

Debaters on the IH campus share similar opinions to mine. They all enjoy the sport and see benefits on all aspects of it. Daniela Elizondo, a junior stated that “debate is an activity that allows [her] to improve [her] communication skills and become more confident through public speaking.”Screen Shot 2015-09-23 at 6.50.19 PMAnother debater, Danielle Dosch, stated when asked about why she knew debate was something she loved:

“Last year, which was my first year, I had an experience right as I was beginning to  transition to varsity as a freshman. At the last tournament of the year, I competed at the Berkeley tournament in varsity. The pairings were random and on round 4, I went against a boy who won the Tournament of Champions; he was the best in the United States. It was absolutely terrifying and even though I got crushed, the experience was so beneficial and it confirmed this is what I loved to do.”

All in all, debate has proven to be a wonderful experience for girls who dedicate their time and energy to this activity. IH debaters are dedicated to this sport and consider it an activity that certainly benefits life outside of high school.

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