Resource 2: How to debate an issue
Background information / subject knowledge for teacher
A debate is a formal argument or discussion. One side proposes the topic or motion and the other side opposes it. There are three speakers for each side and there is a time limit within which they have to give their point of view. Debating is a formal activity and there are certain rules that must be followed:
- A chairperson introduces the topic and the six speakers.
- The first speaker from the team that is proposing the motion speaks first. The first speaker introduces the topic. They may speak for a limited time (such as a maximum of three or five minutes each).
- Next, the first speaker from the team that is opposing the motion speaks. This speaker also introduces the topic, but from the opposing point of view.
- They are followed by the second speaker from each side. The role of the second speakers is to enlarge on the arguments for and against by giving valid examples and evidence to back up their team’s point of view.
- The chairperson then opens the debate to the floor (the rest of the audience), who can question the speakers and challenge their arguments.
- The third speaker from the opposing team then sums up the team’s argument.
- The third speaker from the proposing team sums up the team’s argument.
- The class votes on the motion, based on the strength of the different arguments.