50 Great Debate Topics To Encourage Teens' Critical Thinking

Debating teens.
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Whether or not your kids do debating with other students in school, it is always a great idea to practise these kind of arguments at home with the family as well! Learning to debate will help to develop their ability to think critically, as well as their public speaking and general speaking skills.

Through debate, they will also learn the ability to make reasoned and well thought out arguments as well as questioning other peoples' opinions. In turn, our (often stubborn) teenagers will realise that they can't be right all the time - and that that's okay! It's great to learn to become a gracious loser and admit defeat when necessary - this may even help them to reconsider how they react in more emotional arguments in the home!

Dos and Don'ts

There are a number of dos and don'ts that form the basis of a good debate - so before you start, make sure that they understand the tips that we have listed below:

1. Do be prepared with useful facts and figures about the debate topic... Don't make anything up.

2. Do listen to what other people have to say... Don't ignore their points and move on with yours, or interrupt.

3. Do be calm and collected... Don't attack the opposing speaker.

4. Do use appropriate language e.g.: 'although I see your point, I also feel that'... Don't say anything blunt or rude.

5. Finally - no matter the result, do be pleased with your performance. Winning or losing isn't the most important part to the debate! So don't be disheartened.

Okay - now you're ready to start debating! Below are 50 topical debate questions sorted into categories, to see their new-found speaking skills in action! Along with the question, we've given a quick pointer as to where you should start for each one!

close-up shot of group discussion

Education

1. Is a university degree necessary to get a good job? Discuss the range of roles and salaries available, as well as what defines a 'good job'.

2. Are boarding schools beneficial for children? Compare the difference to the other methods of education.

3. Should mobile phones be banned in schools? Think about the pros and cons to this and what it would change.

4. Should university be free for everyone? Talk about how this would affect our economy and job competition.

5. Is homework necessary to form a sufficient education? It's a drag - but is it an important part of learning discipline?

6. Should females be actively encouraged towards STEM fields? Think about gender inequality in different roles.

7. Is homeschooling always worse than normal schooling? Consider students' individual needs...

8. Is teaching religion in school important? Talk about whether it has helped them to understand the world better.

9. Should schools teach about LGBT+? Think about whether this the best place to discuss the topic.

10. Is it important to learn a second language in school? Debate which languages, if any, should be taught.

Politics

1. Was Britain leaving the EU a good idea? This is a very current and widely spoken about debate and teenagers will probably already know many arguments for and against.

2. Should churches pay tax? Think about whether this is fair or controversial.

3. Is freedom of speech always necessary in society? Discuss how abolishing this would affect the way we live.

4. Are juries a fair way of determining a guilty verdict? Decide whether there could be a better way.

5. Should politics be discussed in school? Talk about whether this is truly able to be fair and unbiased.

6. Should the rich and large businesses be taxed more? Discuss the economic system as we know it today.

7. Should the UK have open borders? Think about the pros and cons of immigration based on facts and figures.

8. Should the UK voting age be 16? Talk about how this would affect the outcome of the elections.

9. Should the UK accept all refugees from wars? Talk about the social impacts of this.

10. Is the military really necessary anymore? Discuss the costs to the taxpayer and their other uses in society.

Social

1. Is Barbie a suitable toy for young girls? Think about mental health and body image versus tradition.

2. Is daily leisure time a substitute for a yearly holiday?

3. Is artificial intelligence dangerous or the future? Think about possible risks to privacy and AIs becoming fully autonomous.

4. Is feminism a true 50/50 split of gender rights? Talk about how feminism is portrayed and talked about.

5. Is peer pressure beneficial to development? Discuss whether this has a positive or negative impact on behaviour.

6. Do you think cloning is ethically acceptable? Discuss where you think the 'line' is with science.

7. Should designer babies be legal? Do we really know the risks involved or will it help to phase out diseases etc.?

8. Is social media beneficial to the individual and society? Think about the pros and cons of this on each.

9. Should smoking be banned? Do people have the right to choose or is it as reckless as drugs?

10. Should Instagram influencers be regulated? Talk about whether this would still constitute freedom of speech.

Environment

1. Do animals deserve the same rights as humans? Think about the pros and cons.

2. Is climate change the greatest threat to human existence? Or is it more likely to be a pandemic etc.

3. Would vegetarianism work as a law? Talk about the greater benefit and if humans are able to make such a change.

4. Is the use of organic farming the future of the agriculture industry? Discuss health versus production scales.

5. Is tourism beneficial for the environment or just the economy? Think about greenhouse gases and industry.

6. Should live animal export be banned? Talk about freshness of produce and costs as well as animal welfare.

7. Is nuclear energy the solution to our problems? Use your debating skills to find the best solution to global warming.

8. Should the sale of fur be banned? Is it just a bi-product that shouldn't be wasted? Or is it gruesome fashion?

9. Should zoos be banned? Or do they form an important part of animal education for the public?

10. Should plastic be banned? Think about recycling issues as well as production issues for alternative materials.

General Knowledge

1. Should alternative medicines be banned? Is this someone's right or is it dangerous to untrained people?

2. Can animal testing be justified? Is it just too beneficial for our medical practises? Or should we change our ways?

3. Is child obesity caused by bad parenting? A controversial topic - reflect on personal experience as well as facts.

4. Should fines be based on income? Discuss the ways in which this would be more fair or unfair for people.

5. Should children be sheltered from technology as they grow up? Think about if this would be beneficial to their development or if they would leave school being behind the time.

6. Should unpaid internships be allowed? Talk about the possibility of this limiting the number available or if it is morally wrong to take advantage of a student's time.

7. Should violent video games be banned? Do they breed violence or are those individuals already predisposed to violence?

8. Is reality TV harming society? Are these people teaching the right messaging to kids of school age? And are they worthy of being role models? Or is it just light-hearted entertainment?

9. Would schooling work online?

10. Should we be investing in more space exploration or is it a waste of resources?

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Disclaimer

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