10 Benefits of Debating in Classrooms: Importance of Debate in Education

If you’re in high school or have a child in high school, you may wonder if debating has any benefits. Is it worthwhile spending your time doing this activity? What will you learn? Will it sharpen your thinking and argumentative skills? Or is it a waste of time? I spent many hours debating in my college with other university students. Along the way, I learned many debating benefits I think you’ll love.

Rebbecca Devitt

I hope you enjoy reading this blog post. If you want to do my course on how to homeschool, click here.

Contents of the article:

  • The Benefits of Debating
  • What is Debating
  • The Purpose of Debating
  • The Benefits of Debating in Detail and
  • Tips and Techniques to Help Debate

Let’s get started!

What are the Benefits of Debating?

The benefits of debating are as follows:

  1. Improved critical thinking skills
  2. Pupils acquire better poise, speech delivery, and public speaking skills
  3. Increased student retention of information learned
  4. Improved listening and note-taking skills and increased self-confidence
  5. Enhanced teamwork skills and collaboration
  6. More confidence to stand up for the truth when a discussion is promoting falsehoods or inaccuracies
  7. Learning better ways to state one’s point with gentleness graciously
  8. Helping students identify holes in their theories and concocting more balanced arguments
  9. Helping students better structure their thoughts
  10. Debating is lots of fun!

Before we examine these benefits in more detail, let’s define debating, explain its purpose, and explain why it is helpful to practice.

What is Debating?

Debating means ‘to fight’.

Today, debating implies a discussion between two parties to form a conclusion.

This skill involves two parties (usually) holding different views about the same topic.

An example of debating is when one person believes in God while another does not.

For example, they might be debating the topic of ‘Does God Exist’.

One person will argue that God exists, while the other will argue that God doesn’t exist.

The ‘winner’ of the debate will be the person who presents the most compelling argument about whether God exists or not.

But I Disagree With That Debating Topic…

Sometimes, people are given topics they disagree with.

When I was at college, I was given a slip of paper with a debate question.

Our team was then told to debate the positive or negative side of that view.

This created an interesting debate when I was asked to argue for abortion, even though I am vehemently against abortion.

This exercise was great for helping me think like a person who supports abortion thinks.

It gave me empathy for those who have an abortion and strengthened my case against abortion as I could learn arguments that I would use later.

What is the Purpose of Debating

The purpose of debating is to succinctly express yourself clearly to those around you using persuasive arguments.

It aims to help you refine and hone your ideas so that they are more acceptable to those listening.

It also aims to poke holes in your theories and point out your inconsistencies so that you eventually develop a more well-rounded argument that is persuasive to listeners.

Improved critical thinking skills

The importance of debate in education centers around its ability to teach children critical thinking.

In a world where children are passively spoon-fed information, critical thinking is lacking as learning is no longer interest-based.

However, debating can sharpen a student’s critical thinking skills.

It lets them deeply examine the topic they’ve been given.

Instead of passively accepting information, they’re forced to hone their thoughts, discard concepts and theories that don’t make sense, and adopt ones that do.

Debating also helps them question their beliefs and justify why they think a certain way.

Acquire better poise, speech delivery, and public speaking skills

When debating, you learn to have confidence in what you’re saying as you’ve prepared well for your topic and know it.

As such, you learn to hold yourself well with poise.

After you’ve debated for a while, you also learn to deliver your speech confidently and in a persuasive manner.

Better poise and speech delivery mean your public speaking skills will significantly improve.

This is because lousy public speaking is often largely a result of poor topic preparation and practice.

Poor preparation and training also mean you will be more likely to get nervous as you’re more likely to fail because you’re not prepared.

It’s a vicious circle.

Benefits of debate in point form graphic.
You don’t just debate to get good at winning arguments. You debate to become a more gracious and informed individual.

Increased student retention of information learned

Compared to traditional education, debating can increase information retention of the topics studied.

This is because debating is active, interest-based learning that engages the mind thoroughly.

Subjects that require students to learn actively tend to increase information retention.

Therefore, debating helps students remember what they’ve learned longer than passive or rote learning.

Improved listening and note-taking skills

One of the other benefits of debating is that it improves students’ note-taking while listening to others.

When students start, they can struggle to take notes effectively and discern the main points.

When you’re new to debating, you might start by trying to frantically write down large portions of what the opponent is saying.

Then, you lose track of the main argument.

However, if you’ve been debating for a while, you’ll know to listen for the main points and consider how you’ll defend those points more generally.

This teaches you to sift information simultaneously as you listen to your opponent.

In essence, debating improves your listening and note-taking skills.

Increased self-confidence

As previously mentioned, knowing your topic helps you have more confidence when discussing a subject.

If you know what you’re talking about and are confident you have your topic well in hand, your self-confidence will naturally increase.

This can be helpful for adolescents who might struggle with self-esteem in their high school years (and one reason classical educators promote debating in middle and high school years).

In the video further down this page, one of the students said he suffered from social anxiety.

However, since debating, a lot of this has disappeared entirely.

Enhance teamwork skills and collaboration

The importance of debate in education is evident when you see how much debaters have to collaborate to make a debate go smoothly.

Collaboration isn’t dull when you’re debating.

Instead, it’s a lot of fun, and when you’re in a team, you feel like you ‘have each other’s back’ in an argument as you’re on the same team as them.

This can lead to great team bonding and fun collaboration work.

More confidence to stand up for the truth when a discussion is promoting falsehoods or inaccuracies

The importance of debate in education comes into its own when you step into the real world.

If you’ve studied many controversial topics in detail, you can confidently stand up for the truth when pushed. For me, this is the most crucial benefit of debating.

I want to teach my children to graciously but unwaveringly defend the truth when a discussion in their workplace or family/friend life promotes falsehoods or inaccuracies.

I want them to gently suggest that the falsehood or inaccuracy is untrue and then indicate the truth of the matter and the evidence they have to support their view.

Unfortunately, many Christians don’t know their Bible, and they don’t know how to stand up for what they believe (1 Peter 3:15), even though the Bible offers many answers.

On the other hand, children who learn to debate can quickly learn to defend their beliefs winsomely.

When the truth is on your side, a defense is easy.

Learning better ways to state one’s point with gentleness graciously

If taught well (and this is the caveat of this point being true), students can learn to express their point in a winsome manner intended to ‘win’ the argument and persuade the hearer.

This will mean judging whether it is the right time to state specific information or waiting until the recipient is more open to hearing the news.

In this way, debating is also about reading the emotions on the other person’s face.

When it comes to telling others about Jesus, discernment is the name of the game.

Those who have verbal diarrhea in this department will soon find they meet vacant stares or (even worse) increasingly hostile countenances.

The wise debater is the one who assesses the countenance of his opponent and argues gently accordingly.

It’s wise to do this, as we see in Proverbs 15:

A soft answer turns away wrath:
but grievous words stir up anger.

The tongue of the wise uses knowledge aright:
but the mouth of fools pours out foolishness. (Prov 15: 1-2 KJV)

This may not be the purpose of debate competition, but it’s where the rubber hits the road, and it’s where debate can be used practically in life.

Help students identify holes in their theories and concoct more balanced arguments.

The role of debating is to help us identify bad arguments and refine good ideas.

When we start arguing, we might believe we have a balanced view without holes.

However, putting our theories on the table to be poked and prodded makes them prove whether they can hold water.

When our theories are tested and found wanting in certain areas, it forces us to refine our arguments and make them more balanced and easily understandable.

This is an excellent benefit of debating that students experience as they actively learn through trial and error.

10 Essential Life Skills to Be Gained by Debating. #benefitsofdebating #importanceofdebateineducation #howdoihomeschool

Help students better structure their thoughts

We can also see the importance of debate in education when we see how much it helps students structure their thoughts from the bits and pieces they’ve learned throughout their lives to a more compelling argument.

Students often structure their thoughts proficiently by finding one or more reasons for their beliefs.

They then test that belief as their opponent stands up and tries to make mincemeat of their argument.

This then forces them to structure their theories further so that they can provide rebuttals for the questions and objections in the first round of debate.

Overall, new debating students learn to develop a well-rounded viewpoint, while experienced debaters learn to start their arguments by anticipating their opponent’s objections.

This makes for an intelligent debate that is lots of fun…which leads me to my last point!

Oh, and Debating is Lots of Fun!

The best thing about debating is that it is plenty of fun!

In the video further up this page, one of the students remarked that debating had made school a lot more fun.

I felt the same way about my debate team in college!

I loved debating at college – indeed, debating night was one of my favorite nights of the week!

It was a great way to connect with other students and bond with them, especially if they were on the same team as you!

You also get an incredible thrill when you’ve done your best on a debate and you’ve succinctly made points.

It doesn’t even matter if you don’t win – so long as you’ve tried, it will be fun.)

Debating Tips and Techniques

In our article, 10 Debating Tips and Techniques: Discover Classical Debating Skills, we discuss the following debate tactics:

  1. Preparing your debate topic
  2. Staying on topic
  3. Speaking slowly, clearly, and charismatically
  4. Being confident with your topic
  5. Think about your body language and what it’s telling your audience
  6. Listening and taking good notes
  7. Anticipating your opponent’s questions before they’re spoken
  8. Telling a story or giving an illustration with an example to make your point
  9. Using a solid conclusion and
  10. Not taking cheap shots at your opponents.

Click here to read more about classical debating skills.

10 Essential Life Skills to Be Gained by Debating. #benefitsofdebating #importanceofdebateineducation #howdoihomeschool


The value of debating is evident when considering the ten benefits of debating outlined in this post. Debating can encourage students to become more familiar with people throughout their lives as they learn various viewpoints through their debates. Throughout high school years, students have the time to consider several issues they will face consistently throughout their lives. And so, debating is a great idea!

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Rebecca Devitt

Most adults don't particularly want to relive their schooling experience on a daily basis. They would gladly move on to a new life devoid of homework and teachers. Very, very few adults will passionately blog about their schooling some 15 years after graduating. This makes Rebecca Devitt somewhat unique. As it happens, she was homeschooled. And she loved it. Still does. And she wishes every kid could get a taste of homeschooling at its very best. Her website How Do I Homeschool, is a springboard for parents to see what a life of homeschooling could be for both them & their children. When she's not blogging Rebecca is still homeschooling her-adult-self by learning Latin, growing weird vegetables and most importantly looking after her two children Luke & Penny. She has a husband Tristan and is a participant at Wollongong Baptist Church. She's also written a book about why parents should homeschool called 'Why on Earth Homeschool'.

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