To Watch The Debate, Or Not To Watch The Debate

I’m not wondering about myself; I’m wondering whether I ought to show parts of last night’s veep debate, or any of the potus debates, to my students.

Probably not to my regular classes. Standardized tests being what they are, we do not have much time to spend on things not strictly related to the curriculum. I teach the first half of US history. While a potus debate would be enriching, and could lead to lively discussions comparing this campaign to some of the early ones, I’m not sure I could justify the time needed.

I also teach a speech and debate class. I might show it in that one. For the speech part, to emphasize all the performance aspects, which both debaters last night are good at. For the debate part, to get the kids thinking critically about what makes a good argument. Last night would be a good example of poor debating techniques: Failing to respond to questions, caricaturing the opponent, offering no explanations or argumentation for one’s own points, appeals to emotion. In other words, the veep and potus debates would be examples of bad argumentation.

If I taught high school, I’d do this for sure. I’m a bit concerned, though, that my particular seventh graders would be too unfamiliar with the issues to critically appraise the debates. (Which, I guess, is what all the candidates hope is true of voters.) Still, I have time to experiment with that group, so maybe we’ll try it.

Explore posts in the same categories: POTUS '08, Teaching

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