For the affirmative – doing the hard work on what works

It’s not brain surgery. We know what works. But it is hard work. That’s what Secretary of Education Arne Duncan recently said about improving student outcomes.

Here at the Chicago Debate Commission, we know what works and we’re doing the hard work to make it happen. Our students are getting the skills they need to succeed in high school, college, career and life.

  • critical thinking
  • research
  • analytical skills
  • organization of ideas
  • an understanding of argumentation
  • teamwork
  • experience in advocacy
  • skills in listening, focus and concentration

Some might call these “21st century skills.” For those of us who debated in the 20th century, we know how important those skills were even back in the “old days.” But now in the 21st century, our society is coming to recognize that while reading, writing and math are the sine qua non of successful education, they are not sufficient. Students need more, and debate offers it.

So the Chicago Debate Commission does the hard work of promoting and facilitating debate for Chicago students, making sure students have the tools they need to develop all those “21st century skills” and providing the opportunities to utilize those skills.

And the students do the hard work too. They know what debate is offering them. As one Chicago debater said, “debate… has changed the way I understand life.”

It may not be brain surgery. But it surely is opening minds.

Edie Canter, Executive Director