"It is only through having students come together and debate ...that we change the world...there are many Great Debaters out there. Most of them are discussing the problems of the world.." Michael Cunningham
WHAT IS A DEBATE COMMUNITY?
Debate communities include any place that the practice of academic debate gains new footholds. Teachers use debate in their classrooms. Nonprofits organize debate leagues in middle schools, high schools and colleges. Corporations, politicians, and community groups sponsor public debates on topics that further their interests. Faith-based groups sponsor debates on complex moral issues. Debate should be everywhere that young people face difficult choices and need more tools to overcome the barriers they face.
DEBATE CREATES CHANGE AGENTS
A 2005 study by the National Institute for Out-of School Time funded by the Bowne Foundation revealed that students leverage the discursive skills they’ve discovered through debate to address pressing needs in their lives. Students organize debates in their neighborhoods that can ignite even the most vulnerable populations to mobilize and seek strategies to improve their lot. Through community debate, young people are positioned as vital change agents in the lives of their families and the conditions of their homes and neighborhoods.
ALOUD's community debates also create opportunities for community based organizations to host debates on issues which are relevant to society. Our model not only allows corporations and other organizations to get directly involved in their communities, but it creates a very direct link between academic debate and the real world issues, with immediate relevancy to everyone involved. This is a self-reinforcing relationship. Those who debate on issues with such immediate relevancy are going to see the benefits of approaching issues from a debate oriented perspective. Those who participate in academic debate will have the opportunity to see their skills applied to the community in which they live, this is profoundly different from debating issues far removed from everyday life, like U.S. foreign policy.
DEBATE FOR A DIGITAL AGE: ALOUD PARTNERS USING CUTTING-EDGE TECHNOLOGIES TO BRING THE WORLD CLOSER TOGETHER
Imagine urban and rural students debating genocide with high school students from Rwanda. Or discussing the realities of immigration with students in classrooms in Mexico. The use of internet technologies helps create a collaborative environment by allowing students to access a wider community in which they can communicate with knowledgeable individuals, take advantage of resources others have to offer, communicate with other students in different parts of the world, and share data with other student scientists and content experts. The ability to connect students across vast distances is being used by ALOUD partners across the country to create a global community capable of engaging the complex issues of today and building our understanding of each other at the same time.
These debates also supercharge modern pedagogical methods that entice students. When students are used to instant messaging and ipods, they do not want to leave their technology behind in order to learn. Internet debates move the needle and provide a method to integrate the latest innovations to deepen the learning experience.
This is our message to urban students: