The 7 Things You Needed To Know About Life, You Learn In Debate Class

Being I will graduate in May, I thought I would take some time to talk about one of the most influential classes I took that was outside of my major. For me, that class was my speech debate class I took as part of my arts and humanities requirement for the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. Why was it so influential? Because the seven things I learned in that class are the seven things anyone needs to know in life in order to succeed. Here are the seven things:

1. Ask good questions.

When debating a topic, you have to ask good questions while you are researching. You also have to ask good questions of your competition when the time arises. Asking non-important questions, and questions that don’t help you understand their argument won’t further the discussion. In life, same thing. Good questions, OR EVEN JUST ASKING QUESTIONS, will get you far. Don’t just sit there and be confused! Ask a question. Get some answers.

2. Listen or you will fail.

In debate you have to be able to understand the tactic and the argument of the competition. In life, if you don’t listen to your friends, family, co-workers, etc. you won’t get far. You have to listen to understand what is expected, which is sometimes between the lines. If you don’t:

You can’t take good notes.

In debate ,you need good notes in order to refer to EVERY point made up in the argument or you lose. In life, you can’t remember everything that is said to you. WRITE THINGS DOWN!!

You can’t engage.

In debate, if you don’t engage with what they are saying and just keep going off about your argument…you haven’t debated……you’ve just talked to each other…(See presidential debates.) In life, you have to confront and work together. If you don’t listen you can’t do either, no matter if it’s at home, work, or with your friends.

You’ll accomplish nothing.

Then there is no clear winner and no clear solution to the problem during debate and you’ve wasted everyone’s time! Same goes for in real life. You’ll be back to square one, your boss/friend/family member will be mad at you and now you’re arguing over not listening. Great…..

3. Be resourceful.

When debating, you have to have as many resources to you as possible. You need to know the other side of the debate, and that just doesn’t happen. You have to do hours of research. The most powerful thing in life is being resourceful. Having connections, knowing where to find more information and just knowing the information is a lost art. Being resourceful in the world means you could build an army of people, show them where to find more information, and then have them accomplish a task for you or with you. If you can do that, you will soar through college.

4. Don’t agree, just because of the source.

That being said about research…you can’t just take something for granted just because of the source. Understanding the background of your source is key. Say the source is Apple. Of course they are going to tell you that their computers are the best, it serves their interest. How this applies to life, is that people say things, but you can never know if they have some initiative or agenda to tell you what they are saying. Trust is huge and you have to be on your trust A-game 24/7.

5. Debate and your opinions are not the same thing.

Opinions are like this WWE GIF. Fake and relevant. Everyone has an opinion and a good chunk of our opinions are not based on facts. Debate is structured on research and analysis and persuasion. Opinions are too easily just used as slaps in face because they are not persuadable and therefor completely undebatable. (Which mean people think this means they win…they don’t.) This means, opinions accomplish nothing. Same goes for real life. You can just slap each other around with your opinions and be “WELL, this is what I think!” and accomplish nothing. Well great! Good for you, but come on you can do better than that. If you want to persuade someone and accomplish something make an argument and win.

6. Someone is always better than you.

There are all different kind of skills you need for debate. Communication skills, persuasive skills, organizational skills, and the list goes on and on and on. So, this makes it so easy for someone to be better than you, because it is so hard to be a complete package. In life, you need even more skills and talents than debate. Life isn’t fair and you have to work hard to get better. So accept it. Learn from the better. Improve. And move on.

7. It’s hard.

Debate is hard. Really hard actually, but you learn so much by trying to take it on, rather than running away from it. It changed me to into a better student. Life is the same way. It’s really hard. Harder for others, but for everyone they struggle every-once-and-a-while. No one has it all together, even of they appear to. So love the good times, and plow your way through the bad times. It too shall pass, just like in debate. Work up the tall mountain of their argument and reenforce yours and you will be able to win the debate. Sure it was hard, but it’s totally worth it. Just like how life is totally worth living for too. 🙂

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