I have a new soapbox. I have come to the recent conclusion that EVERY Christian student should learn debate. It should be mandatory. Is that a bold statement?
It is not enough that our children KNOW what they believe, study the Word of God, and learn all the apologetics curriculum there is to be learned. If we have strong enough convictions about our beliefs and feel that the current society is rejecting those values -we must teach them how to speak out, defend, and argue for their beliefs. What we do is for nothing if they cannot stand up and defend these ideas we are raising them to uphold.
Homeschoolers ESPECIALLY! Why else are we doing what we do?
"Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy." - Proverbs 31:8-9
Even if you don't have access to a great class or program like the one I teach at co-op you can work with your kids on some debate skills:
1. Set up a mini debate -just you and your child. I don't believe you should allow a kid to argue with you normally, but explain that this is a debate and that at this point it is appropriate. However kids need to learn the skill of disagreeing without arguing. Give them some time to prepare a speech. Set some ground rules and time limits depending on age. Explain that interrupting is not allowed. 2 min each for presenting an argument and then 1 min summary each at the end should be plenty. For older kids you might have longer speeches and a quick time for questions in between. Take the less desirable side and don't go easy on them.
Sample topics: Evolution vs. Creationism - Is the Bible True? Is Jesus really the Messiah? People should obey God vs. People should do what they want
2. Periodically force them to verbalize their beliefs and explain WHY they feel that way. Ask them questions that begin with, "What if someone says..."
Debate provides such valuable skills! Not only for life, faith, and people skills - but so much is gained for academics as well. Organizing thoughts, listening, responding appropriately, research, using evidence, and writing just to name a few.