Develop Critical Thinking Skills in Teens through Debate

J. Elizabeth Thyret ~, 2023

Critical thinking is essential for teenagers to be successful in both their academic and personal lives. Participating in a friendly debate is an excellent activity for teens to develop critical thinking skills because it requires them to think logically, analyze information, and make persuasive arguments. Debating also teaches them to be active listeners, effective communicators and allows them to practice thinking on their feet.

  • Start by asking your teen to select a friend, family member, or classmate to participate in the debate as their opposition.
  • Once they have chosen their opponent, have both parties agree on a topic of interest to argue.
  • Advise both parties to research all sides of the subject to help them prepare their arguments.
  • Use a timer to ensure that each person gets five minutes to talk in the first round and two minutes for additional debate rounds. It is crucial that they let their opponent speak without interruption and that they listen carefully to their opponents' arguments so they can respond with well-reasoned counterarguments.

Once the debate has finished, have your teenager reflect on what they learned by asking them questions like the following:

  • What did you feel was your best arguing point?
  • What did you think was your opponent's best arguing point?
  • Who do you think 'won' the debate?
  • Was there a clear 'winner'?

You can help them gather feedback from others by inviting family members and friends to watch the debate.

The more practice they get debating, the more they will improve skills that will serve them well throughout their lives.

Political debates and election concept.