For students of all abilities, debating is a valuable activity in which it instills abilities that are beneficial in many academic pursuits as well as life in general. In reality, debaters build confidence speaking in public and expressing their ideas eloquently. That comfort speaking in front of others is useful in so many areas of life, from interviews to school presentations to discussions in college seminars. Debate gives students a rare opportunity to take ownership over their own intellectual development. And throughout the years of practice and competition, debate builds lifelong friendships and community, teaching teamwork as well.
According to Ashley Anderson, an educator and coordinator for The Utah Debate Coaches Association, “debate is the type of program where anyone can be successful if they are given the right materials and resources.” By exposing students in elementary school through high school to the speech and debate world, the more likely they are to develop lifelong skills in the legal profession in their future careers. As a matter of fact, many in the legal community may have found their interest sparked by speech and debate. Ms. Anderson also stated, “however, debate is not uniformly implemented in elementary and middle school, which reduces overall access for Utah’s youth. There are a handful of educators in the Salt Lake City School District who are willing to create a digital curriculum for 5th-8th grade classroom teachers to increase participation in statewide events.”
Debate is important because it is not an honors class and you don’t need to be in a private school to get involved. Nonetheless, the more teachers are willing to work with students, the better chance students have at reaching their potential in the debate and legal field. The Utah Center for Legal Inclusion has had the great privilege to get involved in legal pipeline efforts by making a donation to The Utah Debate Coaches Association for their curriculum development efforts and supporting in their fundraising efforts to achieve their mission to serve students across the state of Utah. Because of many other generous donations and our commitment to fostering and enhancing a safe and equal environment, many young students may come to understand their potential in the legal profession. Reach out to for more information on how you can support these efforts and develop pathways for Utah students to join the profession.