Why is debating so popular as an activity during high school?


What are the key benefits of debating and how does it help my academics and post-high school opportunities?


Though there may initially be a high barrier to entry in the form of a trial to be selected for the top teams at your high school, debating carriers a lot of merit for both high school and beyond.

  1. Subjects within the humanities - English, history, economics - assess skills that the process of 2. preparing for a debating moot develops over time. For instance, you may be required to analyse an unfamiliar text for English similar to how an impromptu debate that only allows 5 minutes of prep time moulds you into a spontaneous and versatile critical thinker. The ability to then organise and articulate your thoughts and ideas within a limited time window is how these subjects are often externally examined.

  2. The communication skills you hone and more importantly the unique style or ‘voice’ that you cultivate over time as a debater naturally prepares you to thrive in interviews - whether it be your admission interview for Oxbridge or an interview for your first internship upon entering university. There’s few extracurricular activities that rival debating in preparing students how to think on their feet and persuade with verbal communication.

3.Debating builds a transferable skill set that will allow you to excel in other extracurricular activities at both high school and university. Business case competitions or entrepreneurship challenges that require you to pitch to a panel of judges and answer their questions demand very similar skills albeit in a different format and context.

I was the third speaker in the Advanced Premier debating team at Westlake Boys that won the Auckland regionals in year 12 and runners up in year 13, and won several individual speaking awards for both debating and MUNs. I certainly don’t regret the countless hours our team spent strategising and reading to step up our game, and miss the cutthroat competitive nature of it all!