Today I went to the 5th All Japan High School English Debate Tournament in Gifu. It was a very productive trip. It was really amazing to see the students debate and it really made clear a lot of things that I had read about debate.
In particular, it really clarified the purpose of the question time.
This will have a big impact on how I teach debate to my students. I talked with one of the judges after one of the preliminaries, and when he found out I was thinking on doing more debates, he was delighted. He told me that debate is all about teaching students a new way to think, and a new way to approach problems. He said that these skill are applicable to the students' lives, even when they study problems in Japanese. He told me that schools that teach debate see a rise in students' test scores.
I can see how that would be possible, particularly because it teaches listening skills and higher cognitive thinking functions.
It's given me a lot to think about for my own program, and my high school program in particular.