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An Inside Look at the High School Public Debate Program

April 20, 2023
By AdmissionSight
Attentive teenage schoolboys and schoolgirls debating in teams in library

An Inside Look at the High School Public Debate Program

The High School Public Debate Program (HSPDP) is a competitive academic program that promotes critical thinking and communication skills among high school students. The program was created in the 1980s by the Claremont Colleges Debate Union, and it has since expanded to include over 500 schools across the United States and abroad.

The HSPDP is designed to provide students with the opportunity to develop their critical thinking and communication skills by engaging in debates on a wide range of topics. Students learn to research and analyze complex issues, construct persuasive arguments, and present their ideas in a clear and concise manner.

The program is structured around a series of competitive debate tournaments, which take place throughout the academic year. Students are grouped into teams of two or three and compete against other teams in a series of rounds. Each round consists of a debate on a pre-announced topic, with each team taking turns arguing for or against the proposition.

Debates in the HSPDP are governed by a set of rules and procedures that ensure fairness and professionalism. Each round is moderated by a judge, who evaluates the arguments presented by each team and assigns a score based on a set of criteria, such as coherence, relevance, and persuasiveness.

One of the unique features of the HSPDP is its emphasis on developing critical thinking skills. Students are encouraged to approach each debate topic from multiple perspectives, analyze the strengths and weaknesses of different arguments, and construct their own arguments based on evidence and logic.

Another important aspect of the program is its focus on communication skills. Students are taught to articulate their ideas clearly and confidently, respond to opposing arguments effectively, and engage in respectful and constructive dialogue with their peers.

Why should I join the High School Public Debate Program?

Why should I join the High School Public Debate Program? There are several reasons why you should consider joining the HSPDP:

Develop critical thinking skills: Participating in the HSPDP can help you develop critical thinking skills, such as the ability to analyze complex issues, construct persuasive arguments, and evaluate evidence.

Class Of University Students Using Laptops In Lecture

Improve communication skills: The HSPDP can also help you improve your communication skills, including the ability to articulate your ideas clearly and confidently, respond to opposing arguments effectively, and engage in respectful and constructive dialogue with your peers.

Prepare for college and career success: The skills you develop through the HSPDP can be valuable for college and career success. Critical thinking and communication skills are highly valued by employers and can help you succeed in a wide range of fields.

Expand your knowledge and worldview: The HSPDP exposes you to a wide range of topics and perspectives, helping you expand your knowledge and worldview.

Build confidence and self-esteem: Participating in the HSPDP can help you build confidence and self-esteem as you develop and refine your skills.

Competitive opportunities: The HSPDP offers competitive opportunities that can challenge you and push you to improve your skills. You can also meet and compete against students from other schools, which can be a fun and rewarding experience.

What is the HSPDP format?

What is the HSPDP format? The High School Public Debate Program format is a competitive debate format that is structured around a series of rounds, with each round consisting of a debate on a pre-announced topic. The format is designed to promote critical thinking and communication skills among high school students.

Each team in the HSPDP is comprised of two or three students who take turns arguing for or against the proposition. The teams are assigned to either the affirmative or negative side of the topic, and they are given a set amount of time to present their arguments and respond to their opponent’s arguments.

During the debate, each team is required to construct a persuasive argument based on evidence and logic. The teams are also expected to engage in respectful and constructive dialogue with their opponents, responding to their arguments effectively and rebutting any weaknesses in their opponent’s arguments.

Each round of the HSPDP is moderated by a judge, who evaluates the arguments presented by each team and assigns a score based on a set of criteria, such as coherence, relevance, and persuasiveness. The team with the highest score at the end of the round is declared the winner.

The HSPDP also has a set of rules and procedures that govern the debate format and ensure fairness and professionalism. For example, each team is given a set amount of time to present their arguments, and they must follow specific guidelines for presenting their evidence and responding to their opponent’s arguments.

How do you structure a high school debate?

How do you structure a high school debate? Structuring a high school debate such as the High School Public Debate Program involves several steps, including choosing a topic, organizing teams, setting rules and procedures, and evaluating the performance of the debaters. Here is a general outline of how to structure a high school debate:

Choose a topic: Select a topic that is relevant and interesting to the students. It should be a topic that allows for multiple perspectives and arguments.

Students talking to each other

Organize teams: Assign students to teams of two or three, and assign each team to either the affirmative or negative side of the topic. Each team should have time to prepare their arguments and research the topic.

Set rules and procedures: Establish rules and procedures for the debate, including the amount of time each team will have to present their arguments, the order of speakers, and the criteria for evaluating the debaters.

Begin the debate: Start the debate by having the affirmative team present their arguments, followed by the negative team. Each team should present its arguments in a clear and concise manner and respond to the ideas presented by the other team.

Rebuttals: Allow each team to present a rebuttal of their opponent’s arguments, highlighting any weaknesses or flaws in their opponent’s arguments.

Cross-examination: After each team has presented their arguments, allow for cross-examination. This is a time when each team can question their opponents about their arguments and evidence.

Closing arguments: Each team should have an opportunity to present a closing argument, summarizing their main points and emphasizing why their arguments are stronger than their opponent’s.

Happy young people doing group study in library.

Evaluation: Evaluate the performance of the debaters based on the established criteria, such as coherence, relevance, and persuasiveness. Determine the winning team based on their performance.

Debrief: After the debate is over, debrief with the students and provide feedback on their performance. This is an opportunity to discuss what went well and what could be improved for future debates.

The High School Public Debate Program is an excellent opportunity for high school students to develop their critical thinking and communication skills in a fun and competitive environment. Whether you’re interested in politics or law or simply enjoy a good argument, the HSPDP is a great way to challenge yourself and improve your skills.

You can gain further insights into college admissions by seeking the guidance of college admissions experts, such as those available at AdmissionSight. With over a decade of experience helping students navigate the competitive admissions process and secure acceptance to some of the world’s best universities, AdmissionSight is an excellent resource. You are welcome to schedule an appointment for your first consultation at any time.

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