chapter  4
Making Words Matter
Critical Literacy, Debate, and a Pedagogy of Dialogue
BySusan Cridland-Hughes
Pages 12

This chapter seeks to answer the question of how debate in general and the urban debate league in particular offer new insights into how we teach literacy skills in K-12 settings. The urban debate league movement emerged as a bridge across a historical rupture in debate participation by communities that were not white and affluent. This bridge is important because it is a bridge between a community with a historical focus on social justice and a community focused primarily on competitive success. With guidance, debate pedagogy can provide youth with a model of intellectual and personal investment in careful and precise language that counters the polarizing rhetoric so often seen and heard from political actors, and it helps counter the deficit assumption particularly imposed on high-needs students. Debate offers a structured framework for not only the presentation of information and oral argumentation, but also the reflection and consideration of peer voices.