Ever since I was a child, my parents have always told me that I was good at arguing. However, in Dr. Hillman’s COM 267L Introduction to Debate class, I learned that there was a difference between arguing and argumentation. I had never taken a formal debate class before, so I was not sure what to expect going into this course.
In class, each one of us was a part of a debate group, which was then split into two sides for argumentation purposes. In these groups, we were given the opportunity in class to participate in two debates: the Parliamentary Debate, and the Lincoln-Douglas Debate. Each set of partners in the debate groups were put on a side: Constructive vs. Opposition for the Parliamentary Debates, and Opposition vs. Negative for the Lincoln-Douglas debates. From this experience, we were able to apply our knowledge of argumentation from the classroom by putting it into practice. We were able to learn so much about a wide variety of topics, ranging from whether or not schools should adopt a year-round schooling policy to whether animals should be subject to cosmetic or medical experimentation. Because we not only did the research for our own debates, but were able to participate in our classmates’ debates by snapping or knocking on tables in agreement with their arguments, we learned a lot about argumentation itself, but were also exposed to many social issues, and were able to express our opinions in an organized and respectful way.
Throughout the semester, we were taught valuable skills such as facilitating critical thinking on a variety of issues, spotting holes in others’ arguments, and establishing a point or an argument in a logical, respectful, and constructive way. These skills we learned in COM 267L are skills that we will be able to take with us after the semester ends, and will be critical as we grow as leaders.