I was thinking, just last night, that I’ve never posted a blog focused on kids. I’ve had subjects that referred to children, and some of my pieces have been labeled “childish”, but that’s a different thing, I think. I think after almost 2 years of “Practically Well” I should address a subject pertinent to the wellness of young folks, directed at young folks, so here goes…
I’m going to address societal wellness for young people. In this online world, I think the ability to express one’s self clearly on a personal level, to speak to a person or group of people, is something of a dying art. And moreover ( “moreover”, Bob? Yes, moreover…) I think that young people should have experience in engaging in discussion with others who may have an opposing viewpoint. They should be able to engage in an intelligent discussion with a person or group of people who hold an opposing viewpoint without sinking into vitriol, name-calling , mud-slinging or violence. So, my recommendation would be…..
No, really, hear me out.
Debate is a practice which dates back centuries. Back to ancient India, China and Greece.
More recently, Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas set the debate gold standard. In 1858, they met seven times in Illinois during a Senate contest. Each had to make a one-hour opening statement followed by a 90-minute rebuttal.. In 1960, the John F. Kennedy-Richard Nixon debates riveted the nation and established television as an important national political tool. In the first debate, a fresh-looking Kennedy stood in contrast to Nixon, who had a 5 o’clock shadow and was coming off an illness. However, radio listeners thought Nixon was the better debater.
Debate teaches you to prepare, to think through your points and your point of view and to listen and be open to your opponents perspective. There are very specific rules to debate.
What are these rules, Bob?
There are multiple types and sets of rules, but here are some of the basics, as defined and set down by Prof. Libertina Vasilescu. According to the Professor;
What Is a Debate?
a debate – an argument with rules. Rules vary from one competition to another; there are several formats for debates:
- single-members, or teams that include several students.
- two sides are presented with a resolution or topic
- each side is given a set period of time to prepare their arguments
each member of each team delivers his speech in turn
-Make sure you know the rules of the debate, including timelines.
- Research the topic and prepare logical arguments.
- Gather supporting evidence and examples for position taken.
- Anticipate counter arguments and prepare rebuttals.
- Be polite and courteous.
- Let me say that again.
- Be polite and courteous.
General rules for debate
- Listen attentively.
- Be respectful and supportive of peers.
Speak only when recognized by the moderator.
(By the way, yes, there is a moderator that keeps the time allocated for each speaker, allows interventions and evaluates the teams. A moderator should be able to speak clearly and keep everyone on task in a respectful manner.
…but I digress…)
Back to the general rules…
- Use grammatically correct language.
Speak with passion and excitement.
While a team is not required to use all of the time allocated to each debate component, speakers must stop immediately when the allocated time runs out. The timekeeper will announces the end of time 1 minute before by knocking once or making any other sign previously agreed upon. After this last minute ends, the timekeeper will stop the speaker immediately. Team members are prohibited from speaking to the audience or opposing team except at the times specifically allocated to them.
Some advantages to learning debating skills;
- provide practice in developing sound and logical arguments
- make students think critically, creatively, “outside the box”
- give students an opportunity to practise active listening and public speaking
- enhance techniques of searching information, gathering, evaluating and synthesizing data
enhance teamwork and friendly competition.
Debates are designed to make our students increase their team building, group problem solving and oral presentation skills. Students who take part in debates are more open-minded, have sharper critical thinking skills and know how to settle disputes. They get more tolerant to the other’s opinions and accept opposite points of view, thus becoming more adaptable in a world of continuous changes and challenges.
Kids, I can’t help but think that as regards preparation for a happy, healthy, life of wellness, this type of structured, civilized style of discourse would be a valuable tool, especially if you’re looking at a career in business, or, say, politics.
Speaking of which, there’s an election coming up. Whether or not you’re old enough to vote, watch and listen. Knowledge is power, my friends.