Why Middle School Speech & Debate
Building a Solid Foundation
The education of middle school students through speech and debate activities provides them with an opportunity to apply the development of their thinking skills and social awareness through communication. Fostering these skills at a younger age solidifies the foundation upon which students can flourish in high school and beyond.
First, participation in competitive speech and debate provides a highly effective way for middle level students to build communication skills including speaking, listening, and writing. These critical skills translate into significant advantages in school and later, the workforce. In fact, studies show that students who have studied speech and debate tend to earn better grades and score higher on standardized tests. In addition, students who are trained in forensics typically demonstrate superior critical thinking skills, which enable them to be judicious consumers of information and powerful voices of logic.
Beyond this, students in forensics have a significant outlet for their creative energies. Forensics enables students to explore subjects that are personally relevant to them, which encourages them to seize responsibility for their own education. In situations where core content is pre-determined, using forensics as an instructional tool enables students to identify personal connections with the material, improving both retention and comprehension. This unique aspect of the activity makes it particularly relevant for both gifted and at-risk populations, which are often underserved by standardized curricula.
Finally, speaking in public builds confidence in adolescents. Early exposure to public speaking may help obviate stage fright in young orators, giving them a significant advantage over the general population (which collectively fears public speaking more than death). Equally important, forensics gives middle school students a place to belong. Speech is a great place for an awkward pre-teen to find acceptance and social support. Luckily, forensics also helps students develop social skills involving empathy and conflict resolution.
Careful instruction and committed involvement in forensics can garner the benefits noted above. In fact, the gains in a pre-teen’s academic, cognitive, and social abilities are so consistent and substantial that we owe it to our young people to train them in forensics.