Students of all ages and grade levels can benefit from participating in classroom debates. Not only do they provide a change from regular classroom activities, but they also allow students to learn and use different skills.
Under some circumstances, students enjoy classroom debates so much that they join their school’s debate team. In doing so, they have the opportunity to enhance their public speaking skills, practice grace under pressure, and further develop their critical thinking skills.
Choosing Debate Topics
Choosing debate topics can be challenging for some students, and it should occur responsibly. No matter if it’s for a classroom or club debate, the issue should be controversial. Questions also shouldn’t be too easy or difficult for the student’s grade level, either. For example, when picking middle school debate topics, one wouldn’t pick censorship justification or how patriotism affects international relations.
Instead, students should pick topics that excite them. That way, they create exciting and passionate discussions. If their questions are appealing, they’ll forget about their fear of public speaking or shyness.
- Elementary School Level
- Middle School Level
- High School Level
- Kindergarten Debate Topics
- Debate Topics on Family Relationships
- Funny Debate Topics
- Controversial Debate Topics
- Fun Debate Topics
- Interesting Debate Topics
- Social Media Debate Topics
- Light-hearted Debate Topics
- Debate Topics for Engineering Students
- Topics for Debate Competitions
Elementary School Level
- Is traditional education better than homeschooling?
- Do kids need recess?
- Should tracking devices be allowed on student IDs?
- Are aliens real?
- Do we have good enough role models for this generation?
- Are computers replacing teachers?
- Should animal testing continue?
- Do we need to ban cell phones in classrooms?
- Should children in beauty pageants be banned?
- Are pre-teens and teens overscheduled?
Middle School Level
- Should all students have chores daily?
- Does every home need a pet?
- Should every student play a musical instrument?
- Does homework need to be banned?
- Should schools require uniforms?
- Is year-round school better for students?
- Should soda be banned from children?
- Should PE be required for all students?
- Does the Internet need to be banned from schools?
- Does junk food need to be banned from schools?
High School Level
- Should community service be a school requirement?
- Should parents be required to attend parenting classes before having children?
- Do all museums need to have free admission?
- Are single-sex schools better for students?
- Should students be held legally responsible for bullying?
- Should solar energy replace other forms?
- Are PCs better than MACs?
- Should all students be required to take a cooking class?
- Are video games too violent?
- Is history a critical subject?
Kindergarten Debate Topics
- Would you prefer having a dunk tank or a bouncy castle at your next birthday party?
- Which is better: vanilla or chocolate ice cream?
- Which is scarier: zombies or vampires?
- Would you rather be a pirate or robot for Halloween?
- What’s the best Disney movie?
- Pop Its or Jiggly Pets: which is the best toy?
- Are zebras black or white?
- How and why do chameleons change their colors?
- Which are better: cats or dogs?
- Should you be allowed to play electronic games every day? If so, for how long?
Debate Topics on Family Relationships
- Should children be assigned regular chores?
- If you’re assigned chores, should you be rewarded with an allowance?
- Should your parents pay you for getting good grades?
- Should your older brother or sister be allowed to stay up later than you?
- Should parents be allowed to enter their kids’ rooms without their permission?
- Do you think that your parents should let you buy anything you want?
- Is it important for families to have dinner together when possible?
- Is it right for a mother or father to smoke?
- If a parent has a motorcycle, should he or she wear a helmet?
- Should kids be allowed to pick where the family goes on vacation?
Funny Debate Topics
- What’s better: hamburgers or hot dogs?
- Do you agree that smartphones make us stupid?
- Do you agree with the following statement? “No one should ever lie.”
- Do you want to live forever?
- If a magic genie granted you three wishes, what would you wish?
- What’s the most dangerous animal on Earth?
- What is your favorite food?
- What food do you dislike the most?
- Which is scarier: a clown or a mime?
- Do you think that kids and their teachers should wear school uniforms?
Controversial Debate Topics
- Should the voting age be changed to 16 years?
- Should fast food and soda be banned?
- Should rich people’s taxes be raised to “pay more of their fair share”?
- Should famous people like celebrities and sports stars make less money?
- Is social media, like Facebook and Twitter, destroying our country?
- Does your state have the right to make any vaccination mandatory?
- Is it the police’s job to protect your safety?
- Should people who are greatly overweight or smoke have to pay more for health insurance?
- Is war ever justified?
- Should boys be able to play girls’ sports?
Fun Debate Topics
- Was George Washington or Abraham Lincoln the better President?
- Should school be held all year?
- Once kids turn 16 years old, should they all get jobs?
- Why do cats often seem to be staring at nothing?
- Do you think that it’s important to learn math at school?
- Should kids have to do homework?
- Do you believe in aliens?
- Do you believe in ghosts?
- Do you think that “bad” words are actually bad?
- What’s the best topping on pizzas?
Interesting Debate Topics
- Should all kids be required to participate in physical education (gym)?
- Who is your favorite role model?
- Should celebrities and sports stars be considered good role models?
- What do you think is the best movie of all time?
- Should cellphones be banned in the classroom?
- Should bullies be punished?
- Should all men and women aged 18 to 25 years be required to register for the draft?
- Should all students demonstrate that they have the ability to read, write, and do math to graduate?
- Should children be allowed to participate in beauty pageants?
- Should older kids, such as those aged 16 years or more, be able to get tattoos?
Social Media Debate Topics
- Is Freedom of the Press a myth?
- Is it right for Facebook, Twitter, or other platforms to “cancel” or ban certain people?
- Are YouTube, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and others good sources for news?
- Should kids not be allowed to use social media until a certain age?
- Should parents be able to monitor their kids’ social media activity to protect them?
- Is social media contributing to global terrorism?
- Should states and the U.S. federal governments regulate social media?
- Should Facebook add a “dislike” button?
- Does social media increase our knowledge and connections or further polarize and isolate us?
- Is the media’s coverage leading to increased violent crime across the country?
Light-hearted Debate Topics
- What’s your favorite season: summer, fall, winter, or spring?
- What’s the best TV show of all time?
- If you could have one superpower, what would you choose?
- If you had the ability to time travel, would you rather go forward or backward in time?
- Who is the best superhero?
- Is being a vegan or vegetarian good or bad for your health?
- What sport would you like to see added or removed from the Olympics?
- What is your favorite book of all time?
- Is it better to have sisters, brothers, both, or neither?
- Is today’s popular music getting better or worse?
Debate Topics for Engineering Students
- What is the best engineering field: electrical, mechanical, civil, IT, biochemical, or another field?
- Is it a safe choice to keep all of your data in the cloud?
- Should engineering students learn engineering drawing?
- How can you persuade non-expert clients that the option you’re presenting is the best choice, but that no single option is perfect?
- Some would argue that there is no debating in engineering since it’s based on scientific facts and principles that will lead to results. Do you agree?
- Should you always consider the potential ethical and social impacts when taking on any engineering project?
- Some are now arguing that geoengineering – human intervention to deliberately manipulate environmental processes that affect the earth’s climate – should be studied and developed to help stop carbon emissions. Yet others strongly feel that geoengineering is extremely risky and unethical. Where do you stand?
- Do you feel that one of the biggest challenges today is determining how to educate “first-world” engineers to resolve third-world problems?
- What steps can we take in the United States to make science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education more inviting to young students?
- Is it ethical to engage in bioengineering that changes the human genome to treat previously incurable diseases yet also could have extremely dangerous implications?
Topics for Debate Competitions
- Public prayer should not be permitted in schools.
- All schools should have armed guards.
- Universal healthcare is a right.
- There are two genders: male and female.
- All drugs should be made legal.
- Climate change is an existential threat.
- The mainstream media is biased and often reports their opinions vs. objective facts.
- Playing violent video games leads to a lack of empathy and desensitization to violence.
- Standardized testing is racist and should be abolished.
- Abortion should be banned.
Importance of Argumentation
Previously, students and staff could find debates taking place in elite high schools. However, educators across the board are embracing the fundamentals of debating in their classrooms. The main reason is that debating helps students learn how to investigate new ideas, develop their critical thinking skills, and consider new points of view.
- Gathering information
- Exploring every side of their topic or issue
- Forming their initial opinion
- Defending their position
- Refining their idea through what they learn during the debate
Utilizing Argumentation and Debate for Kids
Developing a compelling argument involves creating a thesis statement, supporting it with evidence, using reasoning skills, and developing a persuasive voice.
- What do I want to say about this topic?
- After I read more about this topic, what are my thoughts?
- Why is this topic important to this assignment, my course, and to me?
- Can I determine the strengths and weaknesses of this topic?
Avoid moving on the next issue before resolving the one that you’re currently presenting. If you find yourself repeatedly arguing the same point with your partner, you’ll have to agree to disagree. Then, move on to your next position. If your partner attempts to divert your attention, then bring the discussion back to the argument’s original topic.