Debate IS Learning

I was astounded recently when the current Senate Majority Leader shared that his mind was already made up in the matter of impeachment, before the trial has even begun. (You can read more details here.) I don’t want to get too political in this post, except to say that the point of a trial is for the jury to hear both sides, possibly learn some new information, and then to make up their minds. So, it shocks me, as a life-long learner and student of debate, that a national leader outwardly admits to being fixed in his thinking.

Where is the growth mindset?

This is why I love debate and encourage my students to debate whenever we can. It’s not about winning and losing; it’s about hearing different opinions on an idea and learning. I fear we have become so polarized as a nation, that winning is more important than understanding. I got hooked on debate when I was in high school because in hearing a debate (as a competitor, audience member, or judge) I learned SO MUCH. That’s why I enjoy bringing debate into math class. I am a life-long learner, and I want my students to be life-long learners, too!

Debates can be exciting because there’s a competitive part to it, a facet of debate that keeps the audience’s attention probably more than a speech full of facts. I love listening to IQ2 Debates as a podcast for this reason. They debate so many topics that I know little about or have little interest in beforehand (Healthcare, China, Net Neutrality, College Athletics), but the debate format draws me in. I want to learn more and be convinced. I want to hear what each side has to say as their most persuasive arguments. I want to find out how the audience voted. I get sucked in and can’t help but learn about new topics.

Shame on our national leaders for not modeling an open mind to learning. Our students deserve better. They need to learn to have an open mind, that life is all about learning, that there are so many perspectives on every topic. This is why we MUST #debatemath!


For more info, check out my book, Up for Debate!


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