Debating to find middle ground in classrooms

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Cynthia Rossi, Staff Writer

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I was scrolling on YouTube one night and I found a channel about debating to find middle ground. The topic naturally intrigued me so I decided to watch a few videos. They were absolutely eye-opening. They made me truly realize how often we as a society try to change the minds of those who disagree with us. I think that instead of debating to change our competitor’s mind, we should debate to compromise.

Often times when people get into a debate at school, there is always that one person who says, “I think that we should talk about this another time!” Why? If we don’t talk about it now, when? If not here, where? Schools are meant to foster critical thinking and provoke a deeper level of thought. If the class is not in the middle of an activity, I absolutely believe that students should be encouraged to express their opinions in a civilized manner. After all, we use argumentation on a daily basis whether it is debating a controversial topic or simply deciding where we should go out to eat.

In my own experience, when I am debating with someone, the only words that are going through my mind are, “You are wrong.” I’m not thinking about what the other person is saying, because I already have my mind planted on what I believe is right. However, in a debate to find middle ground, you are forced to have an open mind, which I think is a very important aspect in debating, despite my lack of utilizing it. In one of the debates that I watched (Black Lives Matter activists vs. police officers) the two sides agreed on the fact that the police force should have more resources when in a dangerous situation. Both sides of the debate had to listen to what the other was saying in order to come to that conclusion. If we utilized this way of thinking in our own debates, we would be so much more successful as a society.

Having an open mind is also an important life skill. If we ever want to spread love and acceptance as a society, we must first open our ears instead of our mouths. In a debate, you should listen as much as you should speak. In order to be a successful communicator in general, you must listen. Imagine how many relationships (not just related to dating or marriage) have been ruined due to a lack of listening skills. I would think probably a lot. Debating to find middle ground could improve this growing problem as once again, it requires careful listening and thought.

Overall, debating to find middle ground is an awesome tool that I think should be utilized more often in classrooms. Instead of telling people who are debating in class to be quiet and keep their opinions to themselves, stop and think about the benefits of debating and how it has shaped our world into what it is today.