Presidential Debate in Students’ Critical Thinking

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This chapter is dedicated to define, discuss and review the different variables of the research. This chapter is divided into two sections; the first will be devoted to define and discuss the different concepts of debating while the second will focus on critical thinking. Research finds that there is no ultimate method or teaching technic that guarantees optimal results. Nowadays, educators tent to cooperate learning strategies and are changing their direction of static learning to dynamic one that needs motivation and systematic method and process; thus moving towards debating. “Classroom discourse is dynamic and cooperative where the teacher and the learners cooperate and negotiate with each other in achieving certain instructional goals in the classroom” (Behnam and Pouriran, 2008:7) they explain that it is the collaboration of the teacher and the students that leads to beneficial results; both play an important role in the teaching and learning process.

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A debate can be defined as a formal discussion on a particular matter in a public meeting or legislative assembly, in which opposing arguments are put forward and which usually ends with a vote. It also can be defined as a structured argument. Two sides speak alternately for and against a particular contention usually based on a topical issue. Debate is, above all, a way for those who hold opposing views to discuss controversial issues without descending to insult, emotional appeals or personal bias. “The smart way to keep people passive and obedient is to strictly limit the spectrum of acceptable opinion, but allow very lively debate within that spectrum….” (Noam Chomsky, The Common Good).

The debate is also defined as a dialog between two parties seeking to achieve the goal in the field of knowledge, where each party provides claims and support it with a set of appropriate evidence. It is a confrontation between a party that shows its arguments and justifications its position on the issue of the debate or discussion, and a clear indication of its opponent’s position and weakness

The debate is generally held in front of a group of people who are intertwined between two knowledgeable groups who are able to speak about a particular topic based on two opposing views on a common topic or problem. a discussion is held an opinion is represented by each party, as the debate is a mutual dialog between two groups, representing different trends on a particular issue, and each seeks to prove its point and defend it by different scientific and logical means using evidence and proofs to convince the public and even the other party by the credibility of his position.

The art of debate and public speaking is not new and can be traced back to antiquity. The art of debating is as old as humanity, researchers dates it back to the age of ancient Greeks. Greek philosophers among the first to establish the art of debate, make its structure, rules and laws. In more modern times it can help determine the outcome of presidential elections.

Although it had a major role in the development of this art but earned a negative connotation as a captious or fallacious reasoner. Sophistry is reasoning that seems plausible on a superficial level but is actually unsound, or reasoning that is used to deceive for personal benefits. This art would’ve been lost if not the emergence of a new generation of Greek philosophers, Socrates Plato and Aristotle.

The Arabs witnessed the art of debate throughout its history, born among poets and intellectuals in the ignorant age. The Arabs were inspired by the Greeks thus took this art and made it their own then Islam came and laid the foundations of this art, confirming that debating is the most advanced means of persuasion and dialog. No Islamic era was without or lacked debates Dialogs and discussions on different matters, yet this art saw great development in the Abbasid period and in Andalusia. Debaters represented educated elite, who dazed in many subjects that expressed the environment in which this literary art was created, and was a mirror that reflected the political, cultural and religious aspects of the time 

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