In my opinion, if you are not able to consider someone else’s argument, you have no business opening a discussion. Furthermore, if you aren’t willing to discuss a topic, it is not longer a discussion, but a lecture wherein there is no growth, improvement, or sharing of knowledge.
Thinking back on the debates that I judged on Saturday, October 21, 2017, I’ve come to the conclusion that these debates were closer to lectures than discussions.
This was the topic for those debates: should national service be compulsory?
Which translates into: should the U.S. nation require that a citizen serve in one form or another? This could mean military, public service, etc.
For these debates, the students are provided with the topics preemptively, and must come prepared to both support and oppose the topic. The students do not know which position they will have until slightly before the debate, but I noticed by the end that the students who were against a mandatory requirement of service had powerful arguments with many available sources supporting those arguments while those in support of the topic were slightly uninterested in the debate.
I realized that all four students felt very strongly against a national requirement to serve the country. From a personal standpoint, I disagree with these students. I believe that a requirement for citizens to serve their country and/or community would teach our citizens the importance of being a member of society, and it would also enforce the necessity of being together as a nation.
Unfortunately, the students who were supposed to defend this idea were nowhere near as informed as they should have been, and did not offer enough evidence or support for their position. Because of this, I had to vote for the students who opposed a national requirement for service as the winners… These debates – which should have been discussions – felt more like one-sided lectures.
I’m going to expand on this with another post tomorrow – but I would like to hear your initial thoughts.. do you have any?