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Topics for Debates: Learn the art of debating

Become confident in carrying out discussions and defining your arguments. Get the best tips to excel in debating and the most important topics for debates to help you practice.

topics for the debate
Being a good debater might seem more complicated than scaling Everest, but with Edulyte expert pointers, you get the edge over others and become brilliant at debating. Our list of topics of debates is helpful for your practice and success.

It is better to debate a question without settling it than to settle a question without debating it.

Joseph Joubert

Guess we humans have always liked to indulge in debating as there are accounts of Athenians and ancient Indians carrying it out within the framework of set rules. However, debating has always been considered an art, a skill that doesn’t come naturally to all. How often have many of us been embarrassed trying to put forth arguments and failing miserably at it? To become good at debating, you require more than just speaking skills.

Read our blog to access strategies that can make you a good debater. Also, get topics for group discussions and debates.

What do you mean by debate?

The Cambridge Dictionary cites debate as, that “serious discussion of a subject in which many people participate: or a competition in which teams of people, often students, discuss a subject and the team that is judged to make the best arguments wins.”

Debating is not just about presenting arguments but the prowess of structuring your ideas and convincingly presenting them. It is a fantastic activity to gain confidence speaking in front of others, learning to build an argument and developing your critical thinking skills. As a result, your academic knowledge grows exponentially, and you gain mental and emotional maturity by engaging in serious discussions.

Debate leans heavily on the three modes of persuasion by  Aristotle: Ethos (establishing your authority to argue), Logos (presenting logical points), and Pathos (connecting with your audiences).

How to Select Good Debate Topics

One can’t just choose a topic for debate and group discussions without considering specific parameters. First, consider your audience and the course objectives. Then, ask yourself: will the audience and the participants learn something from the topic? Also, take into account

Interest

Is the topic capable of grabbing attention and generating interest among the debtors and the audience? Choosing an issue that can hold everyone's interest makes the debate relatable and lively. The participants will be passionate about presenting their views.

Scope of argument

Choose a debating topic that allows both sides to argue. The topic should not let either side have the upper hand.

Research range

Any argument will hold ground if it has a solid backing of research data and logical points. Ensure your research provides you with enough information to appeal to the audience's rationality.

Debate Topics Master List

It isn’t easy to pick up good debate topics. To choose an exciting debating topic, you should look at areas connected to students and their perspectives on significant issues like education, career, environment, technology, health, etc. As students move to higher classes, their views become well-formed, and they can prepare comprehensively for the topics for debates or group discussions. Some of the critical topics that can be taken up for debating are:

  • Should Australian schools make Aboriginal Studies a compulsory subject?

  • International policy frameworks on gender and conflict reinforce stereotypes of the roles of men and women

  • Should ethical cloning be promoted?

  • Should there be restrictions on time spent playing video games?

  • Animations showing violence should be banned.

  • There should be a cap on fees charged by universities and private schools.

  • Children should not be allowed to watch reality shows

  • Should the compulsory voting age be reduced?

  • Self-defence training should be made mandatory in schools

  • Government should filter the content available online

  • The ATAR system should be abolished.

  • Universal basic income should be made a fundamental right

  • Social media does more harm than good

  • Renewable sources of energy should completely replace fossil fuels

Tips and tricks to prepare for a debate

Preparing for a debate topic is nothing short of planning for a battle. Edulyte’s instructors have broken down the strategy for debating to enable you to be ready to make an impact with your arguments.

  • Identify the key terms related to your topic. It will give direction to your prep.

  • Research and research. Facts and figures should support each point of an argument. Make sure you use credible sources of information related to your debate topic and name them. Take into account expert opinions and research studies.

  • Throw in emotive language, logical reasoning statements, and rhetorical questions to appeal to the audience's senses.

  • If you are in the affirmative team, suggest measures and solutions in your arguments. Suppose the debating topic is "Fossil fuels should be banned from use", then give alternatives for the fossil fuels and explain how they can be used.

  • Anticipate your opponents' reactions and points of argument. You have to be two steps ahead of them. Such a technique helps in the rebuttal of arguments.

  • Be clear about the structure of your debate. It depends on whether you are in the affirmative or negative group. It is also influenced by whether you are the first speaker or the last. As the first speaker, you address the audience and introduce the topic with an impactful opening statement. Then you must move on to the essential points of the argument.

  • As the second speaker, you start with rebuttals and then introduce several argument points.

  • If you are the last speaker, you give rebuttals and counterarguments to the points raised by the opposing team.

  • Be confident and assertive without being loud and overbearing.

A debate’s greatest highlight is that different speakers bring their character and experience to the floor. Regardless of your debating topics, be passionate in your speech. It will be much easier to convince others of your viewpoints if you believe what you say.

Debate topics for middle school and high school

With greater access to information, children today have well-informed opinions and views about their surroundings and the world. Thus, by the time they step into middle school or high school, they can debate topics that require a great deal of information and in-depth understanding. Some important topics for debates in middle school and high school are:

  • Does homework lead to learning or undue pressure?

  • Should college education be free for all?

  • Cell phones have to be banned in schools.

  • Should learning a foreign language be made compulsory in schools?

  • Is homeschooling better than conventional schooling?

  • Euthanasia should be legalised

  • Should nationalism be given more importance than globalisation?

  • Tourism damages the environment

  • Political parties should not accept aid from business houses

  • Should teenage girls have legal access to birth control without parental supervision.

  • Does technology make people more intelligent or stupid?

  • Are laws effective when it comes to technology?

  • Antibiotics do more harm than good

  • Economic growth leads to recession

  • Is learning history necessary?

  • Lawmakers are not comfortable with gender fluidity.

topics for debating

Debate topics for college students with answers

Given below are critical topics that college students come across in debates. There are crucial points for each topic that will assist you in your debate prep.

Corporate Jobs are slave centric in developing economies.

Working in a fancy, glitzy office with a laptop might not adhere to the idea of conventional slavery, but does that mean it is any different?

How do you see a slave: a person who has no freedom to make choices and has to work tirelessly day in and day out? A person who is not viewed as a human.

If one looks at developing economies like India and Brazil, it seems corporate jobs promote slavery disguised as good professional work. Corporate offices are driven by profits, turning a blind eye to employees’ welfare. Endless working hours, barely any paid leaves, low salaries, and unachievable performance targets are something that workers in these countries have to deal with daily.

Employees are made to feel that they are paid better than others and would get chances for incredible career growth. Still, these illusions significantly damage the employees’ mental, emotional and physical health. Moreover, as these countries are labour surplus markets, employees are easily replaceable.

Are we playing God with Genetic Engineering?

In favour:

  • It can be used to help babies born with genetic defects
  • It is the next step in evolution, where endangered species can also be saved.
  • A healthy population is an asset, and genetic engineering can reduce the impact of illnesses and diseases.

Against:

  • A tiny error can affect generations. It is unethical.
  • It would be too expensive a technology to benefit everyone

One cannot go against nature and interfere with the natural process.

Can we talk about world peace while stockpiling nuclear weapons?

In Favour:

The very reason it was used against Japan has acted as a deterrent for its use again. The world understands the results of its use and thus works through talks and discussions rather than using such weapons.

Despite the escalation of tensions between nuclear-armed countries, the weapons have not been used as each nation is aware of the consequences.

Against:

They can wipe out life on earth. Even if used in a restricted way, over a specific region, it can make the place uninhabitable and detrimentally affect all life forms.

A simple misunderstanding or immaturity on the part of a country’s leader can trigger its use, and there would be no recovery from the disaster. There is a reason scientists advanced the symbolic Doomsday Clock by 30 seconds, which indicates how world leaders are failing to maintain peace. FAS reported the pace of reduction of nuclear weapons has slowed significantly compared with the 1990s and appears to continue only because of the dismantlement of retired weapons; the trend is that the military stockpiles (useable nuclear weapons) are increasing again.

Do we have freedom in democracy?

In a democracy, we choose our leadership but is that what freedom means? People who hold power decide what gets to be censored in the media. They own or hold influential media houses and sway public opinion per their requirement. Artistic freedom has been threatened across democracies, and voicing criticism against politicians invites consequences. The very reason that certain democracies have failed is that freedom was a myth there.

The fact that democracy is a rule of the majority but has led to majoritarianism policies in countries like Sri Lanka that have curbed the freedom of minorities shows that democracy is an illusion in today’s world.

Data companies are the new rulers.

Countries with oil were considered powerful once, but not anymore. It is Google, Apple, Meta and Amazon who play God today. They can access customers’ data to improve services, but recent incidents have told otherwise. Controversy over Facebook being used by political parties and groups to gain leverage is becoming the norm. Data mining is prevalent, and anyone with access to the kind of data these companies hold has power over others.

The fact that these companies decide what we should view, hear, choose or even buy makes it clear that they control our lives in innumerable ways.

Can E-learning replace classrooms?

It sure is a hot topic for debate, especially since the pandemic. We question the necessity to go to a place specifically created for learning when all we can do is sit in our room, log in and start learning. With choices between online live classes, blended learning, and online customised courses available abundantly, do we need real-time classes?

MOOCs allow you to learn from prestigious institutions, thus allowing you to overcome physical barriers. Online tutoring ensures a child doesn’t have to leave the safety of home to study. Time and money are both saved due to e-learning. Think Impact reported that:

  • 42% of grad students and 30% of undergrads preferred online learning to in-classroom learning.
  • On average, students can retain 25% to 60% more information when learning online compared to 8% to 10% in the classroom.

Learning from home can make you lethargic. Sitting in a classroom and interacting face to face with the instructor enhances your motivation to learn. In addition, classroom interactions with fellow students are necessary for social skills development. One of the most significant disadvantages of E-Learning is the promotion of cheating during assessments. Compared to on-campus students, online students can cheat on assessments more quickly as they take assessments in their environment, while using their personal computers.

Do's and Don'ts of debate.

A great debater can stand their ground and hold forth interesting discussions anywhere. And while you are preparing for a debate competition, there is a checklist of dos and don’ts that you must adhere to to make the right impression.

Dos:

  • Dress neatly. Wear your school uniform/ college blazer.
  • Be punctual. Arrive 15 minutes before the debate announcement.
  • Prepare an opening speech that hooks the audience.
  • While researching the debate topic, stay focused and look for information supporting your stand.
  • Argue calmly with logical arguments and counterarguments
  • Have cards ready with your essential points on them to help you
  • Stick to your stand. Remember that other persuasive speakers may try to discredit your points; that’s part of the debate.
  • Look at your opponents, judges and audience. Maintaining eye contact is imperative.
  • Have a presentation ready with data to support your arguments if the debate rules allow it.
  • Have light/ funny one-liners to keep the debate interesting. Change your tone appropriately to stress your points.

 

Don’ts:

  • Lead your arguments away from the topic. It will create confusion and make you sound ill-prepared for the debate.
  • Criticise your opponent directly
  • Read the cue cards while you are speaking.

Ensure your tone isn’t sarcastic or condescending. Refrain from exaggeration.

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Frequently Asked Questions
What is a good topic to debate in school?

Debates teach students to research their topic, make informed choices and argue effectively using facts instead of emotion. Some topics that can get the students into debate mode are:

  • Exams should be abolished
  • Maths is more important than any other subject
  • Teachers should be replaced with technology
  • Life skills should be taught in school
  • Testing on animals should be banned
What are the most debated questions?

Many topics have been hotly debated in academic and non-academic circles. Some of them are controversial and invite a detailed study. These include:

  • Is the death penalty necessary in today’s society?
  • Should drugs be legalised?
  • Does God exist?
  • Student loans are a trap
  • Should standardised tests be abolished?
  • Gender fluidity must be a part of the curriculum.
Name easy debate topics.

Many general topics can warm up debate practice. These include:

  • Is college education essential?
  • Should students be allowed to personalise their curricula?
  • Children should get more holidays
  • Processed food should not be sold in school cafeterias

Is privacy for children a privilege?

What are funny debate topics?

Having a few funny topics for debating is always a good idea. It sharpens the sense of humour and develops the ability to deliver serious thought more lightly. Some of the humorous topics of debate include:

  • Are cats better than dogs?
  • What scares you more: Ghosts or exams?
  • iOS is overrated
  • Is being vegan better than being vegetarian?

Marvel wins over DC any day.

What are the topics for the debate competition in English?

Some great topics to hone your debating skills are:

  • The minimum for voting should reduce
  • Political leaders do not deserve the attention they get
  • Online shopping has escalated human greed
  • Influencers are influencing the wrong way
  • Nurses do not get the importance they deserve
What are the topics for debate for class 8?

Grade 8 is an essential phase in a student’s life, where they have the mental faculties to understand their surroundings much better. They are more receptive and sensitised. Introducing sensible topics for debate in this class can lead to the development of great orators who can easily slip in and out of rhetoric.

  • Is small talk needed?
  • Shakespeare can be done away with in schools
  • Is democracy real?
  • Fast fashion is killing the earth
  • Can a world leader be allowed to act like an ordinary person?
What are the basic rules of debate?

Debate competitions have their own sets of rules and requirements. But there are specific basic rules which are common to all:

  • The teams should not shift their viewpoints. They should stick to what they are supporting and present arguments for the same.
  • Any argument must be supported with credible data or information. Otherwise, it is just an opinion.
  • New points should not be brought up in rebuttal.
  • Sarcastic and crude language must be avoided.

Shouting does not get you points.

What are the 5 steps in a debate?

To prepare the class for a debate activity, follow the simple steps given below:

  • Give the topic for brainstorming:

Divide the class into groups and then present the topic to them. State clearly which is the assertion group and which is the negative group. Then allow them time to brainstorm ideas.

  • Organise ideas:

The groups should then be encouraged to write down their vigorous arguments. These arguments should be divided among the speakers. The first speaker gets most of the arguments, the second speaker gets a few, and the last one does not get any.

  • Structuring of debate:

Guide the students to plan out the debate in the following manner:

Introduction – who are they, and what is their stand?

Preview – This includes the names of the points they will cover.

Rebuttal – not to be done by the first speaker. Students can use statements like “let’s look at what we heard from the previous speaker” and disagree with their points.

Point One – “I present my points as…”

Name of the point

Explanation ( presented as reasoning) – why is your point accurate, and how does it support your position?

Evidence : including facts, analogies, examples, or any data to support your explanation

Follow the same steps for the subsequent points too.

Reminder – remind the audience of the points you have covered.

 

  • Speech Prep:

Make the students prepare their speeches using language that will connect them to the audience. Make them base their points on Reason, Evidence, and Analysis of evidence.

  • Post-debate Discussion and Assessment:

 When the formal debate is finished, allow class discussion time. Students should be allowed to ask questions and contribute their thoughts and opinions on the arguments presented. Members of the debate teams can also reflect on their performance and seek feedback from the audience, including the teacher.

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