Participating in debate will benefit your students in multiple ways. Debate has long been recognized as one of the best high school activities. Debate provides a number of immediate academic benefits, in addition to some very important long term advantages. Students who participate in debate for a full year or more do not regret the experience - in fact, most students testify that their lives were changed for the better because of it! Don't let your high school students miss out on this incredible activity.
+ Critical Thinking
Debate can increase critical thinking skills by as much as 44% (Akerman, 2011). Students learn to think analytically and logically.
+ Advanced Research Skills
Debaters who have later obtained advanced degrees say that their research efforts for high school debate were much more challenging than those required for their law degree, masters thesis, or dissertation (Parcher, 1998).
+ Higher Grades & Test Scores
Students who participate in debate on average score 25% higher than their peers (Mezuk, 2010). Debaters also score better on the SAT and ACT than their peers (Fine, 2001).
+ Confidence in Public Speaking
The #1 fear in America is public speaking, yet students who participate in debate learn to love public speaking and enjoy it. Debate teaches students to be organized, have persuasive delivery, and demonstrate confidence when addressing large groups of people.
Many colleges around the country offer scholarships to students for debate. These can range in value from a few thousand dollars to a full ride, depending on the institution.
+ College Success
Surveys indicate that over 98% of debaters attend college (Billman & Christensen, 2008). In addition, debate teaches students to be self-directed and motivated, ensuring success while pursuing higher education. One survey found that of 703 former debaters, 209 had more than one advanced degree. Additionally, four in ten had law degrees, four in ten had masters degrees and two in ten had a Ph.D. or other doctoral degree (Matlon).
+ Notable Careers
One survey found that of students who debated, 30% became university educators, 15% were top corporate executives and 10% were working in various branches of government. Others entered the clergy, started their own businesses, or became writers and publishers (Matlon). In fact, over 80% of all current members of congress competed at their school's debate team (Swanson).
+ Leadership & Character
Students who participate in debate become natural leaders. They learn to think for themselves, and communicate well with others. They also become responsible for their own success and typically go above and beyond what the teacher requires. One study found that high school debate decreased disciplinary problems among participants by 50 percent (Glanton, 2005).
+ Defense of Faith
Today’s students will soon become witnesses to those they encounter at college or the workplace. While it is crucial that the next generation have a strong Christian worldview, it is also important for them to be able to both communicate and defend this worldview. Debate allows these young adults to learn and hone their communication skills in a friendly, Christian environment.
+ Respect for Others
Competing in debate requires students to learn to respectfully disagree with opponents. Students learn how to listen to those who disagree with them, and have intelligent, respectful dialogues on controversial issues.
“After this year, debate is my favorite activity.”
- Christina, 9th grade
“Debate has been an amazing addition to my life this year. Public speaking is so fun for
me now and I have used the skills I learned from debate in several school projects and
presentations. Since I am not an athletic person, debate has become my sport and I am
really excited to do it all again next year!.”
- Olivia, 9th grade
“I love debate!”
- Owen, 10th grade
“It’s so helpful learning to speak professionally and about topics that matter. I’ve loved debate with LFA and can’t wait to participate again next year.”
- Becca, 10th grade
“My experience with LFA debate has been amazing!
The LFA debate league specifi-cally is wonderful because of its emphasis on Christianity.”
- Kendyl, 10th grade
“Freshman year I never would have thought that I would be where I am today... Debate has truly impacted my life in multiple ways.”
- Alina, 12th grade
“My experience with LFA debate league has been one to remember. It has challenged
me to really look at my world views more in depth. I have learned to love and appreciate this league!”
- Hannah, 11th grade
Mike Winther and Richard Edwards on the benefits of highschool speech and debate.