High school debate is nothing new, but in this current day, the conversational skill of debate without shouting is one that students are learning and  practicing in their daily lives.

Soft Skills17 year old Penfield High School senior Mikayla Bird knows the difference between conversation and confrontation.

“My blood pressure rises and I get a little angry and I have to think to myself, am I really being an effective person,” she said. “I think sometimes I let my passion get in the way.”

“Even in school, there are people whose political beliefs are so polarized,” said 17-year-old Penfield junior Anna Givens. “You can’t necessarily have a civil conversation about what they believe. It’s like you’re shouting at each other and not hearing each other.”

In Monroe County, New York, the course Participation in Government is required.  Lessons in proper debate practices have been added. Students are required to learn the skill of civil discourse, even in debate.

“Some kids think debate is interrupting and being disrespectful and making fun of people,” said East High School social studies teacher Lynn Girven. “That’s what they saw in the media.”

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