Debate can increase critical thinking skills by as much as 44% (Akerman, 2011). Students learn to think analytically and logically.
ADVANCED RESEARCH SKILLS
Debaters who have later obtained advanced degrees say that their research efforts for high school debate were much more challenging than those required for their law degree, masters thesis, or dissertation (Parcher, 1998).
HIGHER GRADES AND TEST SCORES
Students who participate in debate on average score 25% higher than their peers (Mezuk, 2010). Debaters also score better on the SAT and ACT than their peers (Fine, 2001).
Surveys indicate that over 98% of debaters attend college (Billman & Christensen, 2008). In addition, debate teaches students to be self-directed and motivated, ensuring success while pursuing higher education. One survey found that of 703 former debaters, 209 had more than one advanced degree. Additionally, four in ten had law degrees, four in ten had masters degrees and two in ten had a Ph.D. or other doctoral degree (Matlon).
Many colleges around the country offer scholarships to students for debate. These can range in value from a few thousand dollars to a full ride, depending on the institution.
The #1 fear in America is public speaking, yet students who participate in debate learn to love public speaking and enjoy it. Debate teaches students to be organized, have persuasive delivery, and demonstrate confidence when addressing large groups of people.
One survey found that of students who debated, 30% became university educators, 15% were top corporate executives and 10% were working in various branches of government. Others entered the clergy, started their own businesses, or became writers and publishers (Matlon). In fact, over 80% of all current members of congress competed at their school’s debate team (Swanson).
Students who participate in debate become natural leaders. They learn to think for themselves, and communicate well with others. They also become responsible for their own success and typically go above and beyond what the teacher requires. One study found that high school debate decreased disciplinary problems among participants by 50 percent (Glanton, 2005).
In the global society in which we live, it is critical that students acquire a strong worldview. Speech and debate expand students' perspectives by teaching them to examine and understand all angles of any issue. Through this process, they develop a deeper understanding of the world and become more effective decision-makers and problem-solvers.
Competing in debate teaches students how to have civil discourse that results in growth and positive change. By requiring them to listen to the opposing side's arguments, students learn how to respectfully disagree with their opponents and maintain open dialogue on controversial issues.
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