Why Speech & Debate
Opening Doors, Changing Lives
From the founding fathers to the current explosion of online and social media technologies, the principles of open debate have been the life blood of our democracy, making society stronger by transforming policies, guiding public opinion, and casting light on injustice.
Today, it’s more crucial than ever that American teens develop the skills to speak powerfully and persuasively in front of an audience as well as learn to think critically, explore all sides of an issue, and formulate evidence-based, rock-solid points of view.
Beyond the improvements in their academic performance that prepare them to excel in college, speech and debate students change in ways that influence every aspect of their lives. It gives them the social and academic confidence they need to grow as individuals, achieve educational goals, pursue meaningful work, and improve the lives of others – and our world.
Speech and debate gives students an edge:
Speech and debate students have a significant edge in college admissions.
Underperforming students in urban schools show dramatic improvements through participation in speech and debate competitions.
Speech and debate participation provides real cognitive and behavioral outcomes in the following areas:
Improving reading, listening, speaking, and writing skills
Improving critical thinking skills
Fostering intellectual curiosity
Increasing engagement – both at-risk and gifted students engage more and act out as much as 50% less
Speech and debate creates enduring transformation in teens, setting them on a path that can lead them in amazing new directions. Check out all the research that proves the ability of speech and debate to change lives.
Consider the people who got their start as student members of the National Forensic League: Supreme Court Justices Sonia Sotomayor, Stephen Breyer, and Samuel Alito; media visionaries Oprah Winfrey and Ted Turner; actors Brad Pitt and Renee Zellweger; TV personalities Stephen Colbert and Tom Lennon; and Senators Richard Lugar, Russ Feingold, and William Frist.
Speech & Debate and the Common Core
The skills cultivated through speech and debate events are the very same skills teachers seek to develop in their students, as outlined by the curricular standards that have been adopted by a variety of professional organizations.