Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Debates can get a bit heated

Our advanced public speaking class is doing some sort of formal debates as a major exercise in the class. These debates are proving challenging on several levels.

This was the first day of debates with the first question:
Resolved: The second amendment to the United States constitution should be changed or modified. Turned out both sides were for gun ownership but one side thought the question needed some more provisions so that those who should not be toting guns could be identified and kept unarmed.

The second debate ignited some passion on both sides of the issues. The debate topic was: Resolved creation, not evolution, should be taught in public school biology classes. The teams had done some good homework and to the discomfort of many both sides made a case for what is really science and for what is really fact. This topic did inflame some passions, cause some tempers to flare and ignite some controversy.

I thought that the teams in both debates used some of the ideas that have been discussed relating to persuasion as personal examples highlighted the right to bear arms debate while logic and reasoning dominated the creation/evolution debate. It was interesting to hear the students develop their thinking on this topic and also interesting on how the topic still engulfs the emotions -- decades after the court case in Tennessee where Clarence Darrow captured some of his fame.

These debates are making for some interesting, if uncomfortable, encounters with the power of argument and the skill of critical thinking.

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