In high school, students are typically taught to work individually. However, debate goes against formal teaching concepts and encourages students to collaborate and solve problems as a group. Debate teams require everyone to constructively work together to achieve victory. Therefore, “the ability to learn from, aid, and work with others is crucial. The constructive discourse between multiple minds provides insights that would be lost if left undiscovered by one person.” Working together also creates a sense of camaraderie and allows for strong friendships to develop.
Working within a competitive team makes everyone better; debaters will strive to find the best research and logical reasoning, and their teammates will appreciate their diligent work. When everyone recognizes that the common goal is to win an argument, it pushes each member to be the best. Strong debaters know that one person does not lead a team, and a strong collective will come out triumphant.
Collaboration isn’t solely limited to debate practice. During a competition, students must remain in a “collaborative stance.” When “you are willing to learn and willing to change course when presented with better arguments or data. Riff off of one another’s ideas. Try different framings, different models, and different metaphors and see which ones stick –and then build off of those.” Debaters must work together before, during, and after a tournament to make an argument as persuasive as possible. During the competition debaters must also hone the skills of: listening, note taking, and the ability to think swiftly on their feet. Debaters must possess humility, and understand that an opponent’s debate may be stronger. In that case, students have their teammates to turn to for support and guidance.
Collaboration and cooperation are also essential skills to have in college, the workplace, and in life. In order to invoke real change, individuals must be able to work together, constructively challenge each other, and be willing to understand the other parties’ insights and views.