29 November, 2021

Debate Club at DAIS: a Program to Enrich the Lives of Students

At its core, debating is an activity that promotes collaboration, critical thinking, in depth research and a high degree of oral language fluency. Structured debates are highly valued at the most prestigious levels of western education and play a major role in many students lives at the secondary and collegiate level. In concordance with its vision of facilitating student growth as both learners and global citizens, Dalian American International School has fully supported the development of a Debate Club starting in the 2021-2022 academic year.

Led by High School student Jasmine and mentored by Mr. Healy, this trimester the Debate ASA focused on preparing for the online National High School Debate League of China (NHSDLC) tournaments held on November 6 and 27, with the debate topic being: “Resolved: A space race between China and the United States would cause more benefits than harm.”

Students prepared their cases, evidence lists, crossfire questions, and blocks for the tournament. The young group, consisting of mainly 9th graders, performed beyond expectations with two teams reaching the final rounds during the November 27 competition. Susan Li and Natalie He have being recognized as top ten speakers in the first two tournaments. Rebecca Lyu and Natalie He are the finalists in the last tournament. For students brand new to competitive debate, this is extremely impressive and clearly demonstrates commitment to the development of their critical thinking and oral communication skills.

Mr. Healy’s Perspective

“The implementation of a debate program at a school is an intensive process that requires a substantial investment of time and effort from students, teachers and administrators. I have been particularly impressed by the level of commitment shown by our student leaders Jasmine Zhao and MiJia Gao. Both students have shown high levels of commitment to growing the program at DAIS/DHS. Whether it is organizing afterschool meetings, helping to register students for tournaments, judging mock debates or simply being there to support our young debaters at their first events, they have been instrumental in building the foundation for a strong club.

As a Varsity debate coach in the U.S. for 6 years, I have had the privilege of watching students compete at some of the most prestigious schools in the world. I have watched with pride as former members of my debate club enrolled at these same schools: Cornell, Georgetown and Harvard, to name a few. A successful program can enrich the lives of students in myriad ways. While the relationship between academic success and students who debate is commonly (and accurately) cited, it is the development in their character that truly makes the experience of debating transformational.”

Craig R Healy Jr.
DAIS Secondary English Teacher