Thursday, January 27, 2005

Resurrect The Lost Art of Debate

I never took debate in highschool because it was never offered. Debate club was something the nerdy kids did, I had so many hormonal bursts running through my body that it would have been somewhat impossible for me to stand and focus on an argument for an extended period of time. But perhaps if someone had bothered to explain the importance of debating as a skill to me, I might have stood still long enough to listen.

It has occurred to me lately, that debate should be taught to all young people (and arguably the older ones too), and not just the smart-asses who want to get into law school. Learning the art of debate encourages us to use critical and logical skills to interpret any argument posited before us. More, it encourages to put forth our own opinions and challenge those that are out there. If practiced correctly, i.e. if we are at times challenged to defend an opposition's view point, we become more aware of all sides of an issue. Then we may be challenged to re-evaluate or reform our own. We become more sensitive to all situations.

Of course this behavior is unsettling to some who would rather have things spelled out for them. I believe that the best way to build a healthy and functioning society is to teach all people (or at least give them the tools and opportunity) to learn to think for themselves. I will add that this is true even if they disagree with your way of thinking.

Article commenting on the lost art of debate:
http://www.leaderu.com/common/artofdebate.html

Description of the fallacies of debate (tool kit for understanding the art of debate):
http://www.csun.edu/~dgw61315/fallacies.html

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