Looking for a new skill to try or something to fill your free time? A highly recommended activity for one person if you are in high school or university (if your school has one) is to join the speech and debate team. Speech and Debate (better known officially as forensics) is “an academic activity typically available to students in middle school, high school, and/or college. Similar to athletic sports, speech and debate activities are challenging, competitive in nature, and require regular practice, coaching, dedication, and hard work” according to the National Speech and Debate Association. This same organisation defines speech events as “a presentation by one or two, or sometimes a group of students that is judged against a similar type of presentation by others in a round of competition; ranging from limited preparation events that require extensive knowledge of current events to dramatic/humorous interpretations of powerful moments in literature and recreate them” and debate events as “an individual or a team of debaters working to effectively convince a judge that their side of a resolution is more valid.
Students in debate come to thoroughly understand both sides of the resolution, having researched each extensively, and learn to think critically about every argument that could be made on each side”. Being in speech and debate forces young people to develop public speaking and critical thinking and listening skills, which are two of the most important skills for any path one choses in life, and apply those skills in daily life. Not only that, but participating in an activity such as forensics has been shown to enhance a student’s confidence and creativity. Also, mentioning that the program looks stellar on applications to university.
I personally advocate for the program because I, myself, am a debater. I am currently entering my 3rd year of the program as it is my 3rd year of high school and I cannot honestly imagine where I would be without the program. When I was younger, I never felt particularly brave with my opinions on things that were important. I often felt like I had nothing important to say and that by speaking up, I would just be wasting everyone’s time. Forensics changed that in me by teaching me what I did or did not say mattered; that my voice had an impact on the world and people around me. The program trained me to be asserting- using the profound and expansive vocabulary I already possessed to make a difference. My coaches and student mentors taught me to face down my low self-esteem and take pride in my beliefs. But more than anything else, Forensics offered me a community of like-minded people that I might not have met otherwise.
Overall, forensics is an opportunity that can change anyone’s life. If they chose to pursue it, forensics will mark the beginning of when learned how to find a voice… their voice
Teenagers With Experience is an organisation created to provide teenagers worldwide with an online platform to share their own experiences to be able to help, inform and educate others on a variety of different topics. We aim to provide a safe space to all young people. You can contact us via email, social media or our contact form found on our home page.