University of Pennsylvania
Why I Love Debating
Supplementary Topic: Describe an activity of the greatest importance to you
We are sitting in an empty classroom, two hours after school has ended. Our hands are scribbling furiously across the page, trying to catch up with our torrent of ideas. It is the week before the debate final, and we are doing a dress rehearsal. The topic is child discipline.
“No, no, no. Cut that part out.” Someone suggests, “Give examples. Give alternatives. We must convince the adjudicators that force is unnecessary. That’s our goal.”
We nod in unison. But no, someone disagrees.
“Remember, ‘Spare the rod and spoil the child’. What are our rebuttals for that?”
And so it goes on. We are animated in our discussion, all with different opinions. We sit in a circle, taking turns to speak, trying to keep some semblance of civilization. However, disorder soon sets in as we start conjecturing about the other team’s approach. We are selfish people, all trying to be heard, and all raising our voice until this din becomes unsupportable. But we love the chaos, where ideas, opinions, and counter-opinions intermingle and unite into a product of coherence and clarity. We watch, we listen, we criticize, and we support one another’s arguments. We help our teammates on the finer points of rebuttals, and give feedbacks to their speeches.
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