Academics, Upper School

Juniors Debate Complex World Issues

A culminating project for juniors at The Northwest School is the annual 11th Grade Debates in Humanities. The project challenges students to persuasively debate some of the world’s more complicated issues. This year, the issues included a national $15 minimum wage, tariffs on Chinese products, the Green New Deal, enfranchisement of former felons, Affirmative Action in higher education, and U.S. troops on the Korean peninsula.

Students study both sides of their topic before learning what position they will argue on the day of the debate. Each debate team is made up of domestic and international students and they work together to craft opening statements, rebuttals, and closing statements, and must be prepared to answer clarifying questions from their classmates.

Ashwin R. was responsible for the rebuttal portion of his team’s argument in favor of Affirmative Action. He found that studying both sides of the issue was imperative to successfully advocate for his team’s position.

“I had a plan for how I wanted to address the points the con side made,” says Ashwin. “However, their opening statement didn’t mention what I was expecting. I had to change my thought process immediately.”

Nicole Z. is an international student from China and her team debated about whether U.S. troops should remain stationed on the Korean peninsula.

“I really liked how my topic was more of an Asian issue, but we were arguing from the American perspective,” says Nicole. “I learned of a lot of viewpoints I had not considered before.”

At the conclusion of the debate, classmates provided constructive feedback to the debaters and voted on which team presented the better argument.