Speed Debating as vibrant learning

Issue 522 is currently a hotly contested issue on the election day ballot here in Washington. The issue is multi-faceted and includes aspects of which the general public may not be aware. We explored the issues in class, and each student completed some research on an aspect that interested them from both points of view. We then participated today in a round of “speed debating.”

To complete the speed debate, the students were arranged into two circles, with one inside the other, so that two students were facing each other. The outer circle was designated as “for” the initiative, while the inner circle was “against.” The students had two minutes to debate the issue from an integrated Big History perspective: scientific, economic, political, and theological. Following the two minutes, one of the circles rotated so that each person had a new speed debating opponent, and a new speed debating round commenced. With each round, the students developed their confidence, as well as their insight, into how to articulate their position.

After a number of rotations, the students changed their debating positions such that the outer circle now became “against” the initiative while the inner circle was designated as “for.” After a few rotations, the speed debate ended with a class vote and debriefing on the issue.

There was total classroom participation in today’s speed debate, as well as the preparation for the learning experience. Overall, it was evident that the students really enjoyed the freedom to select and research an aspect from both points of view. I was happy with the depth of insight that they offered on the issue as it was clear that their research helped prepared them for the speed debating rounds, during which they had to defend both views convincingly.

Our self-assessment following the vote revealed interest in the speed debate as a classroom learning activity as well as a better understanding of the initiative process to place legislation on the ballot, not to mention a deeper understanding of the issue, too.

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