Debating Skills

Debating Skills – Introduction

A debate is a formal discussion of a theme or question between two or more people. The theme or question is called the motion, which is usually controversial and has no clear or correct answer. An example of a motion might be “everybody should get universal basic income”. Two teams will then argue for or against the motion. The team for the motion is called the proposition, while the team against the motion is called the opposition. Each team is usually given equal time to present their argument, which includes an introduction, reasons with examples or evidence, and a conclusion.

At the end of the debate, a neutral third party, usually a judge or committee, will decide the winner. The winning team is the one that delivers the most cogent and convincing argument, regardless of whether the judge personally agrees with the motion. The teams are typically assigned their position at random, which means they may need to debate in favor of a motion with which they personally disagree.

The word debate comes from the Latin verb “patere” meaning to fight. The practice goes back thousands of years to ancient Greece and India, where debate was considered essential to a functioning democracy. The debate structure used today first took form in early 18th century England.

The fundamental skills necessary to debate also apply to many other aspects of life. The ability to think critically and analyze a problem, the ability to present thoughts logically and elegantly, the ability to speak confidently in public, and the ability to listen carefully and interpret information quickly are crucial skills for any leader, academic researcher, or artist.

Debating a position that you might not personally agree with also helps you develop empathy and broaden your worldview. As you train for debate, you will learn how to analyze a problem, form a persuasive argument, respond to counterarguments, and ask questions. Along the way, you’ll also discover new information, meet new people, and gain new perspectives.

Debating Skills – World Schools Style Debate Format: The Nuts and Bolts

The video discusses the World Schools Debating Championship (WSDC) format, which has been used since 1988 in an international debating tournament involving teams from over 70 countries.

The format consists of four speeches, with the first three speeches having eight minutes each for teams to present their arguments and challenge their opponents’ arguments.

The final speech called the reply speech has four minutes for each team to provide a conclusion that summarizes the debate and validates their side.

The team in favor of the motion starts the debate by introducing themselves and the motion and defining important terms and parameters. They present their case line and outline their case, and the opposition challenges the definition if necessary, then presents their own case line and outlines, and refutes the proposition’s first arguments.

The teams continue to present and refute arguments in subsequent speeches, with the second and third speakers presenting their final arguments, and the reply speech providing a summary of their team’s arguments and rebuttals.

The WSDC format provides equal time and opportunity for both teams to defend their arguments and allows for interaction between the two sides, while also helping to organize ideas for a clearer and stronger case.

Debating Skills – Debate Role Play: First proposition

This video introduces a debate format called the World Schools Debating Championship (WSDC) and explains the role of the proposition and opposition teams. The motion for the debate is “This house believes that the United States government should remove Confederate monuments from all public spaces.”

The proposition team defines the key terms in the motion and presents their case line, which is to replace Confederate statues with monuments that reflect current values of diversity, inclusion, and freedom for all races. The opposition team accepts the definition of the motion and presents their case line, which is to not remove Confederate statues but instead provide further information on their historical context.

The opposition’s first argument is that Confederate monuments should remain as they provide an opportunity to critically engage with history and learn from past mistakes. The debate format follows an A-R-E-I technique, where teams make an assertion, provide reasoning, offer evidence, and explain the impact of their arguments. The speaker encourages viewers to try and come up with rebuttals or additional arguments to finish the debate with a partner.

Debating Skills – Debate Role Play: First opposition

The video transcript explains how to prepare for a debate in a World Schools Debating Championship (WSDC) where the speaker represents the opposition team. The speaker should debate a position regardless of whether or not they personally agree with it. The motion for this debate is whether to abolish the death penalty. The proposition will define the terms of the motion and present their arguments, followed by the opposition’s rebuttal and their own case line.

The first argument presented by the proposition is that the death penalty violates an individual’s fundamental human right to life. The opposition’s rebuttal is that there are exceptions where a person’s right to life may be justifiably revoked. For instance, if a person poses a threat to others’ lives or attacks a child, killing that person may be necessary to protect others. The opposition’s case line is that the death penalty should be enforced in the most extreme cases of murderers incapable of being rehabilitated. They argue that life imprisonment is even less humane than the death penalty as it is a sentence of lifelong suffering and restriction.

Debating Skills – Debate Style: It’s all about how you say it

The video transcript discusses the importance of having style when speaking in public, especially in debates. Speakers with style share certain qualities, such as clear and concise speech, varying their tone, and engaging their audience with confident body language. There are many ways to improve style, including practice and preparation, asking for feedback, and finding a routine to relax and focus the mind.

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