Participating in debate offers students a wide range of benefits. The opportunity to compete and win using intellectual skills, rather than athletic prowess, appeals to many. Students must prepare cases both for and against the resolution, so they learn to look at an issue from all angles. Debate hones the faculties of logic, reasoning, analysis, and critical thinking, preparing students to succeed in school, college, leadership, and life. Debaters practice both written and oral communication, learning how to persuade and convince through evidence and reason. Students who are applying to college among a large group of high-achieving peers can distinguish themselves from the crowd by putting debate on their applications; this demonstrates to admissions officials that they have gone the extra mile to develop their communication and critical thinking skills, areas which are always high on the list of college recruiters.
High school debate is a competitive intermural speaking activity. Several debate formats exist, but Lincoln-Douglas (LD) Debate, modeled after the famous Illinois senatorial debates of 1858, is the most widely practiced and accessible. The original Lincoln-Douglas debates focused mostly on slavery, and LD debate maintains this tradition by engaging students with the most salient and thorny ethical and moral questions of our time. Some examples of recent past resolutions:
- Resolved: The actions of corporations ought to be held to the same moral standards as the actions of individuals.
- Resolved: A just government should provide health care to its citizens.
- Resolved: Democracy is best served by strict separation of church and state.
- Resolved: Laws which protect citizens from themselves are justified.
- Resolved: Oppressive government is more desirable than no government.