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The Great Debate

Judge ready? … Opposing team ready? … Partner ready? The secondary education system strives to provide students with a well-rounded education to prepare them for their future. To ensure that all students receive this balance certain course types are required for them to graduate. Educational facilities see to it that students have knowledge of, technology, math, science, history, and the arts. Unfortunately, this system fails to equip students with the skills they will use most often in their lives, regardless of carrier choice. Critical thinking skills, communication skills, and problem solving skills are used in every vocation our country has to offer; however, courses that teach these skills remain optional. It is time we reform secondary education and provide students with a truly balanced education by requiring speech and debate courses that teach these essential values.

Observation 1 is harms: students lack important skills such as critical thinking and public speaking. While math teaches literal “problem solving”, it does not address how to solve problems that are not based in theories or calculations. While English teaches the fundamentals of language and speech, it does not assist with the application of public speaking or communication. While science teaches fact gathering and interpretation, it does not train critical thought. Ignoring these skills prevents students from using the skills they are taught in a productive manner. Critical thing and presentation skills deal greatly with the application of knowledge gained from other skills, effectively rendering them useless on their own. This uselessness means that taxpayer is being wasted to give kids tools they cannot use.

Observation 2 is inherency: classes that teach such application skills are not required coursework. Debate and forensics classes are elective, thus students elect not to take debate and forensics. These classes fall under the “international language/applied communication” category, and since many colleges require two years of a foreign language, students do not to fill their one credit requirement with speech classes. It is also widely thought that these courses are for “smarter” students, (however, in reality, it is the “non-smart” students that would receive the most benefit from these courses), as a result, many feel they are inadequate. Because these courses require a lot of work, they are seen as daunting and foreboding. Many are afraid of the time commitment and so do not attend these classes. Students end up depriving themselves of skills that will give them an extra edge in life. The solution lies in requiring classes that teach these skills.

Observation 3 is solvency: Schools should require one to one and a half “debate and speech” credits to graduate. In creating a new credit requirement, it will force students to attend two or three speech and argumentation courses that will teach them values and skills that will stay with them the rest of their lives. The classes themselves will still be optional to allow room for students with varying schedules to work in the new credits, but all available classes will see that students can utilize critical thinking and communication skills effectively. Students will not be forced into a “one size fits all” kind of class, but will still be able maintain the freedom of choice that characterizes high school. Some kids may even decide that they enjoy these courses and take them multiple times or in increasing levels. This more balance skill set will work to better our students, our society, and our nation as a whole.

Observation 4 is advantages: this new system will improve education, create job opportunities, and raise better young people to lead this country. Because of the skills they enforce, debate and forensics look good on scholarships and job applications, giving student a competitive edge in this tight economy. These skills also improve the application of other skills through deeper analysis, faster thinking, and better presentation. Students can use these skills to rise to the tops of their fields, whatever occupation they pursue. Debate familiarizes students about our countries issues so that can be informed citizens, and effective leaders. Many of the topics covered in debate are also addressed by in the real world, for example, many of the things debaters discussed during the education topic went on to be a part of no child left behind (okay, maybe not the best example). Speech classes also help to improve students’ organizational skills allowing them to better present ideas and solutions. There are many ways that this new system will improve our world but some are unsure.

Those who are opposed to this idea have valid concerns, but those concerns are addressed by this solution. Though some may think that we cannot require these classes because they require out of class time that conflicts with other sports and activities; however, the proposed solution would provide course options that would not require the out of class time to accommodate for those students with conflicts. It will not conflict too much with class scheduling either. Some grades have less mandatory classes than others, for example, sophomores do not have to take a history class, as a result students may use theses extra credits to fill their requirement. One might argue that students might not participate in these classes and will not gain the benefit, and unfortunately, this is true; however, these are the same students that do not participate in any of their classes and this is not an issue that relates strictly to this idea. Many students will still attempt to pass these classes and will develop these essential skills; they may even come to like these courses as mentioned earlier. Most opposing beliefs are specific concerns that do not address the concept as a whole.

Given that students lack in such skills as critical thinking and public speaking, and given that nothing is being done to address this problem, and given that the purposed solution is advantageous and has little downfalls, I am firmly resolved that we should reform the education system by requiring argumentation and speech classes. My own experiences are a testimony to the good debate and forensics do. I am more informed in regard to our nation’s and our world’s issues. I seem and feel more intelligent and legitimate than I did before I took these classes. Had I not participated in debate and forensics, the projects I have done, the papers I have written, and the work I have completed would not be of as much quality as they have been. As I am considering multiple career choices that don’t relate at all to each other, the classes I take to supplement one will do me no good if I pursue the other, but the skills I have gained from debate and forensics will assist me in whatever path I chose to follow. I will use them in college, my career, and into my retirement. These are classes that can and should benefit everyone, and they are skills that we choose to ignore.





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Avalyon said...
Jun. 12, 2012 at 3:24 pm
A majority of the refrences to the current school system is specific to my (the author's) local school district
 
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