MDTA - Minnesota Debate Teachers Association

Question I would like to stage a debate in my classroom. What kinds of materials might I find helpful?

Solution Any format that promotes a fair and organized clash of ideas, is faithful to ethical use of evidence, and communicates with the classroom audience can be used. There are many established formats available.

Publishers of classroom materials like Greenhaven Press offer ready-made booklets on significant current topics that provide opposing perspectives. Periodicals like Congressional Digest are designed in a pro-con format. Newspapers like USA Today frequently carry opposing viewpoints by prominent writers on the Opinion Page. And, there are any number of on-line sites that provide conflicting points of view on popular topics.

Consider using primary sources as well as secondary sources. Inteviews, diaries, government documents, school board proceedings, land use and zoning board deliberations, among other sources, may add interesting and authentic perspectives to the debate.

Beyond current topics, every classroom discipline provides a wealth of subjects involving values, policies, or facts that can be debated. Examples: Mathematics is the language of nature; The Greeks created order out of chaos; Christopher Columbus should be revered as a hero; There should be a bounty on wolves; Soft drinks should not be sold in schools; The Electoral College should be abolished; Our neighborhood is beautiful; We care too much; There should be mandatory drug testing of students; etc.