As a sophomore in high school, I began what would be one of the most important parts of my high school experience. Through a little prodding from past teachers, I joined the debate team at my high school. The experience has forced me to look beyond myself. Debate has given me not only critical thinking and public speaking skills, but also a passion for learning and the desire to affect change in the world around me based off of what I have learned.
While in a debate round, one must interact with people who have differing views in a polite and civil way while at the same time convincing the judge that one’s arguments are better supported by logic and experts. It took me a long time to develop the skills to think critically and quickly while also finding a way to vocalize these ideas. While I had some success my first year, it was not until my senior year that I was winning for individual speaker points and team awards.
A large part of debate is also researching the resolution for the year and finding evidence to support your plan and go against the plan of other teams. The first year of debate was a huge eye-opener to the state of not only our country, but also the world. In three years, I extensively researched foreign military policy, election law, and means-tested poverty programs. This has provided me with efficient researching skills and a passion to learn more about the world around me. My debate coach taught me how to look at the world critically and with a Christian worldview. I strive to apply what I learned to every aspect of my life.
A greater understanding of the world around me has been one of the greatest blessings to come out of participating in debate. With all that I have learned, it has made me see a need for informed and passionate reformers in government. And I realize that I am one person, but wherever God leads me, I can still change the lives of those around me. This experience has made me learn that there is so much need in the world around me that I am missing.
Debate has prepared me for a multitude of experiences and challenges I have faced in college. It has provided me with practical skills such as public speaking, the ability to research a topic efficiently, and how to work in a team. More importantly, it has affected me on a personal level. I am now able to more easily think critically about the world around me, and it has given me a passion for my area of study. I truly believe that I am a better person today because of my experiences in debate and that God was preparing me for college and the world beyond.
Participating in debate in high school was one of the most rewarding activities I was involved in. While in college, I have been able to use information and skills learned from debate on more than one occasion. I even got to meet a person that I quoted in my first affirmative constructive speech. So if anyone is looking into participating in debate, do it. It takes a lot of work and commitment, but I happen to think that it is worth all of the work.