Class Debate

Class Debate

The great complaint among teachers today is the lack of funds and resources. They learn, like me, to make do. They know budgets are tight. You create educational opportunities out of virtually nothing—or thin air as they say. The kids will respond if you are enthusiastic and present them with benefits. They want to learn about anything, even household appliances. This may seem like an odd topic of discussion, but it came up when I asked my students to select a subject for the monthly class debate. They had already done to death the usual suspects and have torn apart President Trump and all sorts of political issues. They loved talking about being green and what it means today. They got into the clean water problem around the world and the role of corporate America in remedying the situation.

Sometimes the debate gets heated, especially when we hit on something extremely controversial like kids using cell phones or Facebook. At times, the participants have almost come to blows. I have to settle for something safe this time to calm temperaments. I need a break. They are very practical and curious so now, for some reason, they are into helping mom. I can see discussing the pros and cons of certain appliances such as vacuum cleaners. They are ever present, which makes them something relevant and immediate. However, most students don’t even know what a canister vacuum is. The word “upright” means when someone sits up in bed or has good posture.

I suppose learning about vacuums like Bissell, Shark, Kenmore and Hoover, the best-selling leading brands, will be of use at home. They want to give something back in exchange for all the parental help and guidance they get. They could learn to operate the appliance and read the manual. I agreed to the debate topic and set a date. They all went home to research online the difference between canister and upright models. I wonder which one will win out. It might have to do with what they find in the storage closet.

As usual, the teams went back and forth for the designated hour and I heard some impressive points. It boils down to effectiveness and ease of use. Price is also a consideration as is the weight of the unit. It comes down to what is most important to the user. Most people would say good results and I agree. Few students insisted on attractive appearance, although some harped on size so the vacuum would fit easily into any closet. That seems rather unimportant. The purpose was to learn to present one’s point of view clearly and succinctly and to answer any objections. A debate is more than a mere exercise in class.

They did a good job and it was an easy and calm experience. They understood what I had in mind and I had to promise an exciting controversial current events topic next time to keep them happy.