Celebrating the second year of the New York Debate League, sponsored by the ESU, two teams of middle school students debated the proposition: "We should welcome the end of the printed book" on June 15 at the Morgan Library & Museum. The teams comprised three students from Hunter High College Community Schools in New York City and three students from the Hackley School in Tarrytown.
The event was free and open to the public, and the audience participated by heckling, asking questions and adjudicating who won. The debaters were provided with the topic one month in advance of the debate, to research both sides of the question, not knowing until 30 minutes prior to the debate which side they would argue. The choice was determined by the flip of a coin. Immediately prior to the debate, the students completed their research by taking a tour of J. P. Morgan's library, where they say the first printed book – the Guttenberg Bible – among hundreds of historic volumes.
At the conclusion of the debate, the audience decided in favor the Hackley team – who opposed the proposition!
The ESU Middle School Debate Program is a pilot educational initiative for students in grades 5 to 8 to help young adolescents develop critical thinking and language arts skills through public speaking. We are partnering with Claremont McKenna College's Middle School Public Debate Program, leaders in middle school debate education, to establish inter-school debate programs in ESU Branch communities, with ESU New York as the pilot. We received initial funding from a National Endowment for the Humanities grant to launch the project.
The New York Debate League comprises public, charter and independent schools and is organized by the ESU Educational Department. They have five tournaments a year, in which students debate five different topics in a day.
The ESU celebrates English as a shared language to foster global understanding and good will by providing educational and cultural opportunities for students, educators, and members.
To find out more about our programs click here.