A Healthy Conflict: Debate

From daily arguments with peers in your local coffee shop to competitive debates held in schools and universities, and even extending to aggressive politicians contending for different motions to be passed… debates exist not just to satisfy disagreements, but more importantly reflect the very nature of our democratic world.

While some do avoid it possibly due to fear of conflict, debates are actually an important part of developing a person’s character and intelligence. One should learn to embrace disagreements and the varying opinions not just because free speech is important, but rather view it as a tool to challenge one’s own beliefs or more importantly – to gain different perspectives.

A Duel Of The Mind

“Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me”

Encouraging the importance of debate is not telling you to argue with every person you meet or actively seek disagreements, but rather to embrace the differences between people and “aggressively discuss” the potential pros and cons of the topic. It builds a highly important foundation for an independent thinker in the sense that debates train a person’s ability to accept other people’s viewpoints while not resorting to traditional violence when resolving differences (that’s what our forefathers did and that didn’t play out too well…). Instead, one learns to reason with the other party in a civilized contest to see which opposing idea is better. There is thus a mandatory difference between one that seeks conflict and one who is not afraid of them. When a person becomes accustomed to accepting the viewpoints of others, he/she learns that the world is filled with differing ideas and not one is absolute in all cases. Embracing the important element of subjectivity frees the mind and allows it to roam further, evolving the natural defensive human reaction towards contrasting views to instead a state of civil grace and maturity.

What the Experts Have to Say…

Of course, the reason why debates are so universally implemented from the daily school all the way towards impactful international conferences is not just because it has been proven to be effective in developing one’s mind, but also to encourage a person to explore the best possible options for many pressing global issues. But in case you still have some doubts, here are a few reasons as to why one should welcome the art of debate, according to experts.

Critical thinking skills
This cannot be emphasized enough in our current world as we live in an age of information. Debating greatly helps a person to separate the good from the bad, or more importantly, to decide which form of information is relevant to the objective. With this, the mind learns to organize information with a purpose, as what good is too much information if it drowns you at the end of the day?

Research about knowledge
As mentioned before, information is abundant in our day and age. To argue your points correctly, one has to have the ability to extract viable resources that are considered as “facts”. This helps to develop a person’s understanding of a particular topic since they have to learn about it more thoroughly (including the opposing viewpoint) in order to successfully convince his/her arguments.

Communication skills
Since a debate is generally composed of speech, users will be able to mould their speaking not just in terms of grammar and vocabulary but more importantly, in the ability to persuade. On top of that, since debate rules dictate civil behavior, vulgarity and violence are discouraged when it comes to a person’s response towards differing viewpoints.. Debates also boost the confidence for public speech, which is important to sustain and grow our democratic beliefs.

Ability to not just listen, but understand
As previously mentioned, the objective of a debate is not to seek conflict – it is to reason out differences. Through this process, debaters gain the ability to understand the opposing viewpoint to theirs and not just blindly listen, since they have to grasp their opponent’s argument in order to provide a good rebuttal.

Learning public opinion
If a debate is not scored by judges, it may be evaluated by the public instead. Through this, debaters gain a better mastery of public opinion in accordance to the votes. A vital part of this is observing that sometimes, even the best ideas aren’t always the most popular ones. This will in turn challenge a person to find new ways to convince and improve the community.

Decision making
This is arguably the biggest benefit, as debaters eventually develop an identity with a sense of responsibility and ownership towards our world. Be it domestic or global issues, when a person is better informed, he/she is able to make the better choice to varying issues so that a better impact can be produced to self, those around and the world.

“Honest disagreement is often a good sign of progress.” – Mahatma Gandhi

The process of debating allows the exchanging of ideas to happen in a civil, exciting and most importantly, constructive way. The benefits of applying it is beyond doubt. As a society, we should embrace debates as a useful tool not just to resolve differences, but also to broaden one’s mind. To share differences is part of who we are… and instead of avoiding it, one should face unique opinions with courage and integrity. Looking around us, we have people coming from different walks of life, ever ready to provide differing perspectives which can bring more value to whatever it is we are trying to conquer. It is important to remember that we are all in the same team at the end of the day… as we share this world together.

BeED sees the importance in this and all our Learning Experiences include include a reflection phase that can consist of a debatable question. These debatable questions challenge one to think further and to analyze a situation from a different perspective on top of providing the needed knowledge and fun activities. Our questions are designed to invigorate learners not just to challenge others, but also reflect upon themselves on the topic learnt. Find out more at www.beedtheworld.com


Bibliography

  1. “Benefits of Debating.” QatarDebate. N.p., n.d. Web. 10 Feb. 2017.
  2. Foresman, Pearson Scott. Fencing (PSF). Digital image. Wikimedia Commons. Wikimedia Foundation, 1 Feb. 2009. Web. 10 Feb. 2017.
  3. Snider, Alfred C. “Oral Debate as a Method for Improving Critical Thinking and Creativity.” Debate Central. World Debate Institute, University of Vermont, n.d. Web. 10 Feb. 2017.
  4. “Why Is Debate Important?” Science Park. Newark Public Schools, n.d. Web. 10 Feb. 2017.

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