An important part of any school should be the activities they have to offer the students. My high school had a ridiculous amount of clubs to join. Seriously, we had everything from the food club to the native american club, the robotics club to the puppetry club. You name it, we probably had it. Clubs and activities are a way for students to feel involved in and proud of their school. They also provide something for the students to do to keep them out of trouble when class isn’t in session. Unfortunately, many urban schools aren’t given as many of these opportunities as suburban schools. That’s why I was so happy when I came across an article about the Urban Debate League.
The Urban Debate League is a program that puts debate clubs in urban schools, especially those that are made up of mosty poor minorities. They then offer a debate for all the urban schools to come together and compete. Creating debate teams in these schools not only gives the students a program to take pride in but it creates new learning opportunities. The article states that at first, to get the students interested in debating, they asked questions such as “should uniforms or dress codes be required?” or “should high school students have more privledges that middle school students?” These questions were things that the students could relate to. Once they drew people into the debate team, they created debate topics such as the topic for this year’s debate, renewable energies.
The best part about the Urban Debate is that the debate topics encourage students to educate themselves on certain social issues. The article talked about how much intense research, planning and responsibility is involved in preparing for a debate.
High School Debaters in Training for Verbal Fisticuffs
By Nancy Mitchell, Rocky Mountain News
October 18, 2008
The debaters will continue to hone their research and debate skills on the same topic, renewable energies. Their case file will grow to 24 files totaling more than 540 pages, with headings including “Nuclear Power negative” and “Social Ecology Critique affirmative.”
“The words might be big and I don’t understand them but I’ve got my trusty dictionary next to me,” Jessica said Thurday at Manuel, “and I’m looking up words and writing them down on a piece of paper like, that’s what that word means and that’s how you pronounce it.”
If research from other city debate leagues holds true, more than 75 percent of the Denver participants will go on to a four year college.
It’s amazing to me how debating has turned into something these students are passionate about. Now they are taking their education into their own hands. They are learning about social and environmental issues, learning how to work as a team, building their English skills and public speaking skills, and learning how to do proper research. All of this is going to come in handy once they graduate. Some may even have a better chance of going to college on debate scholarships.
Hearing news like this is very inspirational. I think the Urban Debate League has become very influental in the lives of these urban high schoolers. It has given them something to work hard for and I can’t even imagine the pride and satisfaction they’ll experience when the debate comes and they can display all of their knowledge and debate skills.