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AP Language Debates
With the final presidential debate more than a week behind us, we turn our attention to a more recent debate that took place in Mark Tremblay's AP Language course on Friday. Having studied speech and language throughout the term, students were asked to prepare effective arguments in support of items from a topic list that spanned a wide range of concepts.

The class was split into two groups, each portion preparing arguments in support of their chosen topics. For each of the major topics discussed (legalization of prostitution, death penalty, and the appropriate privacy levels of student computers at Proctor) one group developed a constructive argument while the other countered that argument with specific evidence. Eventual rebuttal of each argument allowed students to go 'off script', tapping into, and effectively utilizing research they had conducted.

The goals of the AP Language class are vast, but one of the primary objectives is to expose students to the power of language. Last year, Jay Heirichs visited Shauna Turnbull's AP Language class to discuss the power of rhetoric, both in writing and the spoken word. This debate sought to build upon those lessons learned last year in a new setting.

Tremblay noted that the goal of this debate was not only to improve students' public speaking abilities, but to have them continuously refine their arguments in a way that clearly and concisely communicated their purpose. As each team presented arguments, points of information, and rebuttals on the major issues discussed, it was clear that students were well-prepared and informed on their positions.

Issues discussed forced students to prepare a two minute speech on each issue, as well as a counterargument for the other group's topics. Encouraging students to think about multiple aspects of each issue, regardless of their own personal beliefs, helps them better appreciate various perspectives. To wrestle with ideas that are not our own, and to find value in those contrary viewpoints through investigation of evidence, is an invaluable skill for our students, not only in English classes, but across the academic curriculum.

As we enter peak election season, we well understand the premium on understanding multiple viewpoints, wading through biased information and formulating an educated, informed opinion on important issues. It is our hope that each student at Proctor not only formulates firm, but not inflexible, personal beliefs, but that they truly understand why they believe what they believe, while maintaining an appreciation for others' beliefs as well.
Last winter, Jay Heinrichs came and spoke to AP Language students about the power of rhetoric.
His words were powerful, as he encouraged students understand that the way they use words through both the written and spoken language says much about them as a person.
Angie's student speech given in assembly on Friday was impressive as he discussed his own personal journey at Proctor and his desire to improve his public speaking skills.
The significant value in the AP Language debate discussed in the main text of this article lies in the researching, understanding and appreciating of multiple viewpoints - a valuable skill for all of our students to have as they move on from Proctor!