We harness the power of debate to sharpen three core skills: Critical Thinking, Communication, and Confidence.
We push our students to be critical thinkers—engaging in clear, skeptical, evidence-driven thinking.
Our students develop communication skills and emotional intelligence—they become persuasive speakers who can articulate their ideas with conviction and clarity.
Most importantly, we foster confidence. The confidence to speak up, to engage, and to challenge ideas.
Dr. Tony Wagner, a renowned education specialist, Harvard fellow, and author of “The Global Achievement Gap”, underscores the growing importance of critical thinking in the 21st century. He outlines seven critical skills for success in the future, with critical thinking and problem-solving at the top. In a world where information is at our fingertips, the ability to critically evaluate and apply that information is paramount.
Evidence shows debate improves critical thinking skills.
At Carnegie Debate, we do not teach critical thinking – we engage in it. There are four defining elements to critical thinking: thinking must be logical, skeptical and evidence-driven, well-reasoned, and free from bias and one-sidedness. This is precisely what we exercise with our debaters:
Communication & Emotional Intelligence
Emotional intelligence (EI) is the bedrock upon which interpersonal relationships are built and sustained. As Daniel Goleman articulates in his seminal work “Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ” (1995), EI is the ability to recognize, understand, and manage our own emotions as well as recognize, understand, and influence the emotions of others.
Debate exercises emotional intelligence. At Carnegie Debate, our debaters are trying to convince each other and their coaches—thus competitively exercising their ability to recognize, understand, and influence the emotions of others.
A confident child is more likely to engage in learning, take on challenges, and persevere in the face of adversity. Debate gives children the conviction that their voices matter.
 Brembeck, W. L. 1949. The effects of a course in argumentation on critical thinking ability. SPeech Monographs, 16, 177-189.
 Colbert, K. 1987. The effects of CEDA and NDT debate training on critical thinking ability. Journal of the American Forensic Association, 23, 194-201.
 Allen, Mike, Sandra Berkowitz, Steve Hunt, and Allan Louden. “A meta‐analysis of the impact of forensics and communication education on critical thinking.” Communication Education 48, no. 1 (1999): 18-30. http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/03634529909379149
 Garside, C. (196). Look who’s talking: A comparison of lecture and group discussion teaching strategies in developing critical thinking skills. Communication Education, 45, 212-27.
 Professor Maurice Elias in his book “Emotionally Intelligent Parenting”,
 Semlak, W. D. & Shields, D. 1977. The effect of debate training on students participation in the bicentennial youth debates. Journal of American Forensic Association, 13, 194-196.
 in “The Palgrave Handbook of Critical Thinking in Higher Education” (Davies & Barnett, 2015)
 Dauber, C. 1989. Debate as empowerment. Journal of the American Foresnic Association, 25, 205-207.