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  • Writer's pictureEverett Gordon

In Defense of Pt. 5: Joining the Parker Debate Team (Why you should!)

Updated: Jul 26, 2022

I first knew that I wanted to do debate when I gave my eighth grade salutatorian speech and felt the power of public speaking. I don’t mean power as in having control over other people, I mean power as in the influence and ability for words to create positive change. Each time I enter a debate round and give a speech, I am forced to form a connection with my judges. I am there to tell a story, advance an argument, and demonstrate my knowledge in a persuasive, professional, and competitive manner.

Debate sometimes gets a bad wrap as an activity that seeks to humiliate one’s opponents, but I am here to tell you that this is not the case. There is undoubtedly a competitive spirit involved, but debate has made me more assertive, not aggressive, and has taught me the vital difference between critiquing someone’s ideas versus attacking someone’s character. I feel that this is a crucial distinction to make in our world today—especially as political opinions and relationships are so polarized and divided.

Beyond helping me gain confidence with public speaking and expanding my knowledge of global and regional issues, debate has taught me the importance of narratives and persuasiveness in argumentation. Argumentation is something much greater than the fights siblings have or even a debate round itself. Argumentation is the advancing of ideas to push back against inequality and outdated institutions. Having a voice and having an argument in today’s world is an asset and serves as a catalyst for breaking these longstanding norms of inequality.

It’s true that debate isn’t for everyone, but I would strongly encourage anyone with an interest in public speaking, narratives, research, or even being part of a supportive team to give debate a try. Who knows—you might win a few rounds, get to travel, end up liking it as much as I do, and make a difference in the world.

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