Debate Topics for Primary Students

Debate Topics for Primary Students

It's no secret that children will argue about almost anything. Learning proper debate skills at a young age will help children grow into persuasive adults who know how to use evidence and facts to back up their beliefs and ideas. Although debate topics can be lighthearted, at times even funny, these chosen topics should still teach the basics of what makes a debate effective.

1 Electronics in School

Today's children learn how to work cell phones and iPads before they know how to read. Adults debate the use of these electronic devices, but young students should have their say as well. Children can voice opinions on -- as well as understand the limitations of -- a "bring your own device to school" policy. Giving students the opportunity to brainstorm practical uses of electronic devices in school, as well as the negative effects of allowing them, guides them toward becoming objective thinkers who see all angles of a debate.

2 Junk Food in School

A fact that isn't up for debate is that most young children love junk food. What can be debated, however, is whether unhealthy foods should be allowed in school. Children who undertake this debate may be disheartened after weighing pros and cons, because there is little to no evidence suggesting that children should eat junk food, especially during school. However, students who are "pro sweets" may decide to appeal to emotions rather than facts, arguing that short snack breaks help them focus during long periods of sitting, or that candy in moderation is comforting and relieves stress (a notion adults would have a hard time arguing against). By taking sides against overwhelming evidence, students learn that there are many ways to sway an audience during a debate.

3 School Uniforms

Young children love to dress themselves. However, many schools employ a dress code, and some mandate that students wear uniforms. Students who choose to debate this topic would be tasked with researching the reasons for a dress code, and the effects such a ruling has on academic achievement, as well as overall disposition during school hours. Children may interview peers, teachers and other faculty members, and use their responses as anecdotal evidence either supporting or refuting the claim that implementation of uniforms is beneficial to a school community. Gathering data and information from a variety of sources helps students decide which side to support.

4 Homework Policies

Most students would jump at the chance to argue against a homework policy. However, this may be because homework they receive is busy work that does not add to their understanding of the day's material. Rather than arguing against homework entirely, students would do well to argue for meaningful homework that furthers their knowledge and allows them to truly comprehend the intricacies of a specific topic. A debate focused on overhauling the homework system, rather than doing away with it, would help students understand the value of completing assignments nightly.

Matt Duczeminski is a before- and after-school tutor and supervisor for the CLASP program in the Cheltenham School District. A graduate of SUNY New Paltz's Master of Science in education (Literacy, B-6), Duczeminski has worked in a variety of suburban areas as a teacher, tutor and recreational leader for the past eight years.