Going into my Introduction to Debate class this semester I was slightly concerned with how well I would do in the class. I had never taken a public speaking class or debate class, and in the past speaking in front of others used to terrify me. Before Introduction to Debate I felt confident enough to speak in front of others or put on a presentation but being confident enough is not where I wanted to be.
This semester, debate has forced me to step even further outside of my comfort zone. Even though my class was with my cohort and I was more than comfortable speaking in front of them, I wasn’t sure if I could successfully debate about a topic, cross examine my opponent, or think on my feet. Just after I had finished the first debate I was surprised at how simple and fun debating was. Sometimes debating can be characterized as a nasty argument where the opponents are attacking one another. Debating is not a synonym for fighting, its purpose is to persuade an audience about a fact, value, or policy. It’s so important for everyone to know the works of persuasion because it is used in every day life such as in courtrooms, schools between teachers and students, business/faculty meetings, media, and politics. The reason why debating and persuading is so fundamental in our lives is because we don’t always know if something is true or false, right or wrong.
In class, we learned how to evaluate a theory and how many conspiracy theories violate the rules of reason, argument, and logic. The difference between postmodernism and sophisticated modernism is that postmodernism says there is no universal truth and that truth is determined by who has power while the other suggests that though we can’t be 100% sure whether or not something is true, we can assume something is probably true. Opinions are very difficult to persuade someone on. They are what guide and define our lives. On the other hand, when it comes to facts, we should try to keep an open mind and learn to ask questions about what is true. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion; not their own facts.
It’s mind blowing to me that for a long time, everyone assumed the world was flat. It wasn’t until Aristotle questioned that theory and went against the majority to persuade everyone that the world was round. Although that was many years ago, the same thing happens today. There are always new theories to surface, and people who dare to challenge those theories. We are all still trying to figure out what is true, false, right, and wrong and the only way we can do that is through debate, argumentation, and persuasion. Truth and facts are always changing. It is crucial to think critically about everything and not be afraid to question an idea, even if the majority accepts it as truth.
Now that I have had the opportunity to debate about several different issues and have learned the most effective persuasion strategies, I am able to use my set of skills, as I move forward, with confidence to communicate to others.