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Debate Essays On Music During School

In-class debates do not just teach public speaking skills; you also develop critical thinking; research skills and organisation and prioritisation of information. They also present an opportunity to have your students engage with the material they are studying in different ways, forming and deconstructing both the opinions of others, and their own! But they can be a little daunting; teachers often think that they need to be experienced debaters themselves to get their students involved. Nothing could be further from the truth.

The truth is, in fact, that there is no wrong or right way to debate in the classroom – the idea is to find out which way best suits your learning outcomes, the make up of your class, or the way that just makes you feel comfortable. Debates are elastic, they can have as few or as many people involved in them as you want. Some, like balloon debates and alley debates, can get large numbers of students involved (more on balloon debates in a future blog). This month's resource takes you through the basics of one way of setting up a debate which we think works well and includes sheets to print out for all of the students involved to help them structure their speeches.

Students are divided to sides of an argument, one in favour, the proposition, and one against, the opposition. They take it in turns to present arguments, and respond the other side, trying to persuade the rest of their class one way or the other. The "audience" aren't passive - there is an opportunity for them to question the speakers, and to give their own opinions from the floor. A chairperson and a timekeeper, who keep events moving, oversee the whole thing.

The floor debate section in this format allows for the students not speaking to question the speakers and give their point of view. Quieter students can be introduced to the concept of speaking by forming research teams, or can be given the role of chairperson or timekeeper to have them involved in the in-class exercise. And you can keep rotating the students, to make sure they all get the opportunity to fulfil all the roles.

The most important thing to get right is the motion. A good motion will allow for debate on both sides, will be straightforward, will suggest the research the students need to do to argue their side, and will be accessible to them. By relating the motion to an area of study in the classroom, you allow them to start thinking about their speeches in relation to their study. Debates can be on almost anything, from the portrayal of women in Shakespeare's plays, to economics, to the awarding of a Nobel prize, or the use of stem cells - just pick an area, set a contentious topic with two sides, and let them at it!

Here Anisa Lunat, the Head of RE at Clapton Girl's Academy, who coached a team to win the ESU London Debate Challenge in 2011, shares her experiences of using debates in the classroom, along with some top tips.

"Every teacher will be able to remember lessons in which a very interesting topic was being discussed by students. I am also sure that they will remember hearing the same voices contributing to those discussions over and over and the few students dotted around the room that looked as though they were listening attentively but were more than likely day dreaming.

In subjects like RE where discussions are central to exploring key issues, this can often be the case. It was for me anyway until I started using debating in the classroom. This was an exciting, innovative way to eliminate the "two-student ping pong discussions" once and for all and yet continue to give students the platform they deserve to voice their views.

Using debate within the lesson encourages all students to be engaged in exploring the issue being discussed. This is because each student is assigned a role that can range from being the chair, timekeeper, a speaker or a speech writing assistant! The motion is decided, roles distributed, speeches written and later evaluated – all of which is done by the students.

The impact of including debating within the classroom has been profound. It has encouraged students to produce their own arguments rather than regurgitate those of others and most importantly, it develops their higher-order thinking skills of evaluation and analysis. Across all year groups, debating has improved students essay writing skills as they are now able to produce more developed arguments and structure them in a coherent way.

Words cannot do justice to the value of debating within lesson. I strongly urge all teachers to try it out at least once - I can assure you that both you and your students will be keen to try it again!"

• Steven Nolan is the Youth Education Leader at the English-Speaking Union, where he runs the primary and secondary school training programme, Discover Your Voice. He has been involved in debating for over ten years, as a speaker, judge and coach. He is a European University Debating Championships Finalist, a World Universities Debating Championship Octo-finalist, and is the current President of the European University Debating Council.

See the English-Speaking Union website for more advice and information or follow them on Twitter: @ESUdebate

Resources on the Guardian Teacher Network

Read Anisa Lunat's top tips for debating

And download this brilliant guide to debating, which can be filled in and used for whatever debate you are having in class, from the English-Speaking Union.

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Do you have something you want to share with colleagues – a resource of your own and why it works well with your students, or perhaps a brilliant piece of good practice in teaching or whole school activity that you know about it? If so please get in touch. If you would like to blog on the Guardian Teacher Network please email emma.drury@guardian.co.uk and please don't be shy about commenting on blogs on this page.

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  • Helps students express themselves

    They are able to be creative in their own way. Not all students are able to do sports, either they have an injury or are just not able to participate because of their parents work or they don't want them to. Students can express themselves in other ways than in sports. May be able to let energy out if they needed to. Music can make students use their brain more using hand-eye coordination. Sometimes you might get a break with their school curriculum.

  • Art Clubs are good for kids

    Art clubs help kids express themselves in way in ways they cannot without things like a pencil or music. If kid can't express themselves they could become depressed and horrible things could happen to them and the people that are close to them. Also kids need to make friends with the same interests as them, and joining art clubs that they are interested in they will meet others with those same interests.

  • It's a waste of time

    Because music is boring and it's a waste of time and energy. So we should not have music class. Music needs to be gone because we need more time for other classes. Music class takes a way time for other classes like math. I don't think it is important to school and collages.

  • Yes they should be allowed

    The arts help students learn more faster, and it helps children have more focus. And if students are not good, at sports and things like that, they could be good at that. Students can make more friends, by doing the arts in school. The arts also help students express themselves.

  • It helps succeed in high school

    If you take art or music it allows the brain to adapt. By that I mean it physically helps you, it also gives you an opportunity to create beautiful things. Scientists have proved it helps have higher standardized test scores in Math and in English. People who also stay in art or music are more likely not to drop out as well. All in all fine arts is an amazing thing and should be apart of everyone's life.

  • Music and Art should be provided in all schools!

    I believe that the activities music, and art should be provided in all schools because it allows kids to express their ideas! I think that is something that all kids should get an opportunity to do. These programs can also help children realize a talent that they didn't even know that thew had!

  • It helps students and can be enjoyable

    It helps excel the brains and test scores of all students. Studies so that students did better with all year round music lesson. It teaches kids how to expand their skills. Younger children have faster language development (ages 2-9). It increases IQ and makes the brain work harder. It is also and has never been a waste of time.

  • It is needed

    Being able to have music and art in school life is very important for kids and needs to be enforced. It is a phenomenal way to express who they are and what they can do, especially if they don't participate in sports or any other extra-carricular activities. It is needed.

  • They should provide it because it is proven to help kids learn in other subjects.

    Art helps kids sit back, let go, and let their imagination fly. That can lead to kids pay more attention, and not be disruptive because they have built up all this tired feeling, and needs to let it go, and art class is a good place for it. Art class is very interesting and it is important that at some point in the day, kids are excited to do something.

  • Music should stay!!!!!!

    Kids that participate in music programs get higher on test scores.
    Music makes kids smarter. When you play an instrument you have to memorize the note names and fingerings. Music also lets kids express themselves when they're sad, depressed, angry or stressed. You can't express yourself in math or English. Music is one of the only fun ways to learn and have fun. Once you learn music, it stays with you so if schools stayed with music, kids would get smarter and happier

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