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What's the best debate format? Show more Show less
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Competitive debating has become one of the most popular extracurricular activities for both high school and university students. Around the world, people engage in many different formats of debating, from the formal, cooperate Model United Nations format to the rapid-fire, argumentative Policy format. Out of so many formats, what exactly is the best?

Model United Nations is the best debate format Show more Show less

In Model United Nations, participants are placed in the position of delegates or ambassadors in a committee of different countries. They are forced to collaborate to resolve a variety of international issues.
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Model United Nations emphasizes collaboration instead of argument

Debates should be about reaching common ground and coming to a solution instead of simply trying to win a round. Only MUN stimulates that type of environment by not giving participants a clear-cut position but instead allowing them to think for themselves.

The Argument

Unlike other debate formats, the goal of Model United Nations is ultimately to compromise and come to a solution for a universal problem, instead of blindly rejecting the premise of the other side. Participants each represent a country and are asked to balance their country's interests with the interests of the entire world. When participants disagree with something, they are not asked to argue against it, but they are instead asked to submit amendments to the proposal to make it better.[1] MUN values exactly what the world of debate lacks: the skill of listening and agreeing. The problem with debate is that it traps debaters into a much too singular, black-and-white dichotomy, where there are only two sides to an issue, and the team that doesn’t win must be the loser. The activity of debate should instead be teaching debaters the much more valuable lesson that critical thinking should be used to make the world a better place instead of telling someone else that they are wrong.

Counter arguments

The activity of debate tends always to be done by the same population of people: the elite college students and the intelligent high schoolers who are willing to put their time into talking about the world’s issues. These are the types of students who are likely to support the same policies, the same ideas, and the same solutions because they have all grown up in the same bubble listening to people talk in the same echo chamber.[2] Debate is uniquely valuable for kids like this because it shows them that there’s more than one side to every issue. By being forced to debate on a side that debaters don’t necessarily start out agreeing with, they are forced to break out of their comfort zone and realize that there is merit to every argument made. In a world where people tend to be complacent with everything that they are told, debate provides a valuable experience of thinking for the other side. The problem with MUN is that when debaters can simply choose to agree, they never have to engage with the other side. Because of this, the debates that happen in MUN are always singular and monotonous, with one participant proposing something in the beginning and the rest simply agreeing because they are not forced to do anything else.

Proponents

Premises

[P1] Debate is too black-and-white and needs more collaboration. [P2] The structure of MUN forces participants to work together instead of work against each other.

Rejecting the premises

[Rejecting P1] Debaters are all stuck in the same echo chamber and need to see the other side of the issue [Rejecting P1] MUN allows debaters to simply stay in their own bubble and all agree with each other

References

  1. https://bestdelegate.com/mun-made-easy-how-to-get-started-with-model-united-nations/
  2. https://www.thecrimson.com/column/bleeding-crimson/article/2017/12/4/class-breaking-echo-chamber/
This page was last edited on Tuesday, 10 Nov 2020 at 20:00 UTC

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