Learning, in many university students’ minds, is reading textbooks and attending lectures. Yes, this is one way to learn, but it should not be the only way for students to learn. It is true that students can learn knowledge by this way, but is this the best way for students to learn? Also, other than knowledge, what can they learn from just reading textbooks and attending lectures?
As we all have known in today’s society, students who only have “book” knowledge are not good enough. They require more realistic skills. The question is, how can they develop more skills? I am sure there are many ways to do that, but I suggest students to develop their skills by engaging in debates. You can develop many different useful skills for being a debater.
In general, debate helps you effectively to develop four skills:
- Critical thinking
A typical debate match has judges, a motion, which is a topic to debate, and at least six or more debaters. There must be two sides in a match, and debaters are evenly distributed on both sides. Each side is either in favour of or opposed to the motion. Therefore, it has a thesis statement and points to support its position.
Debaters need to figure out the most effective way to deliver all of this information to the judges. Otherwise, they will lose the match if no one can understand their speech. This is the time for people to improve their communication skill. It helps people to find a better way to deliver information and communicate with their audiences in their normal lives. Also, debaters need to clearly present their thesis and points during a debate match; therefore, this is an effective way to develop presentation skills too.
Debate is not an individual activity because a typical debate match involves more than one debater on one side. Debaters need to cooperate with teammates and debate with the other side. As we can see here, teamwork is extremely important. It is a great opportunity for debaters to build up the teamwork skill.
Furthermore, debaters should not only focus on their thesis and points. They have to think of the thesis and points of other side and find out a way to retort them. At this stage, debaters can improve or develop their critical thinking skill.
I suggest that professors consider having an in-class debate as one of the assignments for students. It will surely consume some of their lecture time for teaching; however, this assignment provides an opportunity for students to develop some important skills for their future. Therefore, it is worth to give up some teaching time to let students undertake an in-class debate.