During my time in university in Hartford, New Haven, CT I was blessed to have a very good friend with whom I debated a huge number of issues. Myself and Andrew Curran were both members of the debate team and whether it was a mock lawsuit or a team effort against the professor, we always tried our very best too win the debate. I was talking with my friend via email last week and we both agreed that debating is something which is so important to people in education, and how sad it is that this is dying out. I asked Andrew why he believed it was important and I wanted his hare with you what his thoughts were on the subject.
Learning to Compete
Learning how to compete is vital in anyone’s education as the world is a highly competitive place. Andrew understands this completely and he is certainly not an advocate of taking away competition in schools. What he believes should happen however is that friendly competition should be encouraged. His belief is that in encouraging children to debate issues, we can teach them how to win with grace and lose without retaliation or complaint, thus preparing them for the real world.
Andrew spoke at length about how when you have to debate someone on a particular topic, the fear that your opponent will know more than you drives you to gain more knowledge on the subject. As a result you will be able to form opinions more easily and you will have done so based on facts and the full picture. The example that Andrew gave me was that when he was younger he debated the benefits of communism, during this time he was young and impressionable and believed that this was a smart political theory. After studying for his debate however he realized that communism simply couldn’t work and whilst he may have argued for it, he made a personal realization during this time. The fear of losing forces you to learn more and in doing so you can form better opinions.
Looking at All Sides
Andrew tells me that his favorite way to debate is actually to argue against what you believe, something which will inevitably happen during a debate. The skills which he says this can teach us is the ability to be able to look at things from all sides. Having the ability to see all angles of a problem or an opinion is essential to becoming a more empathetic person in other aspects of your life.
As Andrew always used to tell me, the best way to gain more confidence in yourself is to stand up in front of a group of people and have an argument with someone. In doing this you will be stepping right out of your comfort zone and as a result your confidence will grow exponentially. Being a confident person helps in so many aspects of life and in debating regularly you can greatly increase your overall confidence.