We believe that debate offers students the opportunity to experience how it feels to make the most important decisions of our time. This feeling, both awe-inspiring and accessible, is the beginning step into the long path to leadership. Along the way, students begin to realize that they have self-determination, a key aspect of independence. Throughout the journey, cases will be seen and heard, but the critical thinking tools gained with use and practice will last a lifetime.
For educators, the practice of debate offers a chance to concentrate an enormous amount of learning in a short amount of time, with the essential tools of student participation and self-direction. Additionally, a well-crafted debate allows us to integrate the use of several different disciplines, bodies of knowledge, and life skills.
The Two Decades Academy creates all of its debates, and uses traits from many debate modalities to create immersive, participatory, and exciting simulations of real-life decisions. In the creation of debates, we follow certain principles, both substantive and skills-based.
We go beyond other speech and debate camps or classes who focus on only one debate type, applicable to one field, or focused on one narrow technique. We teach skills from multiple speech and debate styles, which gives our students the ability to learn by exploring their own interests. Our approach produces comprehensive leaders, who understand speech and debate skills across disciplines and who can apply what is needed in different contexts.
Substantively, we choose a wide variety of contentious, real-life, international or domestic issues, that present two or more sides with valid arguments backed by articulable values.
We believe that student choice is a great predictor of student involvement, and allow as many opportunities for it as possible.
We believe that role-playing allows students to experience the value and excitement of knowledge with a purpose, and in the process can make geography, history or economics a breeze and pleasure to learn. Finally, we believe that providing students with the opportunity to create a solution to a seemingly intractable problem offers insights that remain with students, are often surprising, and evolve as they do.
We have witnessed how the practice that debate offers students a concentrated amount of opportunities to develop their public speaking skills, unlike any other activity. We believe that public speaking training needs to be functional to prepare for many different real-life situations, and not heavily altered to develop skills of limited applicability (such as speaking unintelligibly fast).
But debates should not be seen as only a public speaking activity. In fact, we believe that they are incomplete if they do not present the need for principled negotiation, the development of gracious social skills in a work environment, team building and management, and familiarity with using personal freedom and responsibility.
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