Speak Up: Debate and Public Speaking in High School

Speak Up: Debate and Public Speaking in High School

Speak Up: Debate and Public Speaking in High School

Speak Up: Debate and Public Speaking in High School


Debate and public speaking are of extraordinary value to students in the high school. Participation in debating can boost student self-confidence, accelerate learning across the curriculum, and facilitate greatly improved critical thinking and oral communication skills.

Speak Up is a primer for beginning and intermediate students participating in class and contest debates. Designed to support the Public Debate Program, it offers students clear, concise information on public speaking and debating. Combining the practical and theoretical, the text teaches students about verbal and nonverbal communication, how to research and present an argument, how to answer arguments, how to develop debate strategies and how to conduct a formal debate. Exercises following each section give students hands-on experience with each topic


This text is designed to help teachers and students in secondary schools practice rigorous debating in class and competition. It supports participation in the Public Debate Program, an educational outreach initiative of the Claremont Colleges Debate Union, centered at Claremont McKenna College. The Public Debate Program is the largest, fastest growing and most academically rigorous debate promotion effort in the world, with programming in 20 countries and in many hundreds of schools across the United States.

The Public Debate Program began by targeting students in the middle grades with the Middle School Public Debate Program and expanded to upper secondary students with the High School Public Debate Program. Any student in the Public Debate Program, regardless of grade level, can use this text, although it is primarily targeted at high school students.

In the 15 years that we have been writing together, we have shared a common understanding of debate education: that debate should be easy to learn but challenging to master. We hope that Speak Up! puts this shared philosophy into practice. Any teacher, regardless of prior experience, should be able to use this book to teach debating in any subject area. Any student should be able to learn basic and advanced debating skills by using this text.

We have consciously chosen to avoid specialized terminology associated with some debate formats, as jargon can be unnecessarily alienating and intimidating for newcomers. As a result, this text serves as a primer not . . .

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