For most of us, English happens to be our first language. From school to work, we place much emphasis on both written and spoken English. Some parents encourage their children to join debate clubs in school to improve their language skills, and they are right! Debate skills do impact our English proficiency positively, allowing us to have better linguistic agility.
1. Good for students in schools!
Debating allows us to understand that there are multiple perspectives to every argument and situation. Nowadays, schools place much emphasis on critical thinking and effective reasoning. With the introduction of argumentative writing into our syllabus, our need to be cognitively flexible and have the ability to think from both perspectives has become more prominent. Debate and its structure, with needing to think of both sides as the proposition and opposition, allows us to have the training to achieve that agility; with debating undeniably able to improve our argumentative reasoning and writing that is necessary for schools.
2. Has a positive impact outside of schools!
The foundation of debating lies in the ability of the speaker to deliver well thought out content effectively and clearly. With exposure to debating, students are exposed to the aspect of speech and delivery in English. In addition to the emphasis on written English, our syllabus has evolved to include oral skills. Effective delivery is pivotal in the 21st century, and debating provides the necessary training for delivering well thought out and structured content.
Additionally, debating trains a student’s confidence in delivering in front of a crowd, and equips students with the ability to react and think quickly under pressure, to respond to questions or differing opinions. This is an effective life skill; one for the classroom or boardroom.
3. Impacts our larger society.
As mentioned earlier, thinking as a debater allows us to appreciate both sides of the coin in every situation. Looking at our larger society, possessing this ability to think from the other perspective will allow us to better empathise with those with differing opinions.
Debate thinking structures help to cultivate a healthy method of settling disputes, where both sides respect differences in opinions. In our world today, with numerous debatable issues present, we must be able to settle disputes in a non-destructive way. Even more so in Singapore, with our multi-religious and multi-cultural society, we need to be more sensitive to different opinions when we tackle situations. In this case, debating not only benefits our politicians but ourselves as well, when we discuss global issues that are relevant to us.
Debate and its skills not only benefits us as individuals in the working and academic world. But it affects us positively as a whole society. Through this activity, we can cultivate an environment where every opinion is valued and where well-thought opinions are presented for the betterment of all.
This is how nation-building begins in the schools, with effective education that caters for debating and developing debaters.