Activity I: The Great Debates
Learning GoalStudents will better understand certain controversial ideas in the political realm and be able to speak intelligently for or against a proposition.
Instructions1. Write the following resolutions on the board and ask the class to copy them down:
- "What politicians do in their private lives has no bearing on their fitness for public office."
- "People who watch a lot of television know the most about politics when it comes to election day."
- "In our modern world, religion no longer has a major effect on political life."
- "Compared to their parents, young people today are looking for different things in a political leader."
- "A president's spouse has an unhealthy amount of influence these days."
- "A war-time hero makes a better political leader than one who hasn't served in the military."
2. Divide students into "affirmative" and "negative" groups based on their feelings about the above propositions.
3. If time permits, have students prepare a formal debate case supporting or attacking one of the resolutions, with each affirmative and negative team getting 10 minutes to support their case. After the presentations, give each team 3 minutes to respond. If possible, get a local elected official to judge the debates.
4. Alternatively, conduct an informal class discussion about these matters, being sure to get students to say why they feel as they do about the propositions above.
5. For more specialized information about high school debating practices, contact the National Forensics League, Box 38, Ripon, WI 54791 (414) 748-6206.
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