What do you all think about making a change towards focusing more on debate in History classes than on essays? I don't really feel to opinionated on this, but I have always believe the point of an essay to logically analyze present data and formulate one's conclusions of such in as clear and coherent a manner as possible. If this is the case, should we not focus more on debate instead?
Almost invariably, when a person writes a paper, the most opposing thought s/he will experience is a few notes on the paper when it is returned. However, in a debate moderated by perhaps a teacher, one is forced to constantly be reminded to follow a logical manner of thinking, and it would help the participants learn to listen and consider the opposing side's points. I also realize that we need to learn to write, but that could be covered in Composition classes or even in History classes. Still, I feel we need to really work on learning to consider other sides.
I've had teachers who use the debate-instead-of-an-essay method (or even writing essays regarding debatable topics) in history, and I think it is more effective, simply because in order to be "well-argued" (so to speak), you must have "sound knowledge" to pull from. You end up understanding the material instead of simply memorizing it.
But then again, there are points when you just have to learn the information, so focusing MORE on debate would be illogical. A balance, as in anything, is key.
As for the "considering other's sides" part, that can't be taught. Whether or not a good debate is even attainable depends on the individuals and the class setting.
Overall, it's a good idea (debating), but there are too many factors to make a sound decision here and now. It's all subjective.
Okay, Essyne, you make a good point, but again if it is in the classroom environment, then you can just have those (such as you and I ;)) that have the "sound knowledge" to "pull from" and thus make a debate a learnable setting. If you catch what I'm trying to say. In the classroom setting you have those hard-headed fools that make learning fun, and then you have those that sit back and let others speak for them. So why not earn an A and learn at the same time? I like the debate idea. Sounds fun :).
If the teacher moderator were to point out a valid statement when its due recognition, this may force the students to consider what occurs. It would do so more than doing nothing, anyway.