28 Sep

First Things First (and Last): Formulating Debatable Issues (Pt. 2)

Les Lynn Professional Capacity Development, The Debatifier

In The Debatifier’s previous post we examined the ways in which debatable issues are like and unlike framing moves and essential questions, and we identified the five key criteria for the effective formulation of debatable issues:

  • Openness
  • Balance
  • Focus
  • Authenticity
  • Intellectual Interest

In this post we will explore how debatable issues organize the structure and influence the full trajectory of a unit in an argument-centered classroom.

Not to pre-empt the inquiry, but the sum of it really is this: all the elements in a unit should be connectable to the debatable issue(s) in argument-centered instruction. A line should be traceable from the debatable issue(s) out to all of the activities, assignments, projects, and assessments in a unit. Debatable issues give units their thematic coherence. They give context for tasks and exercises conducted a unit, and they allow for the gradual building of understanding in a unit to then have full expression in culminating performance task assessments.


24 Sep

First Things First (and Last): Formulating Debatable Issues (Pt. 1)

Les Lynn The Debatifier

‘Framing the debate’ is a phrase that doesn’t mean what at first you would think it means. Instead of denoting the way that a topic for argument is defined, it has actually absorbed some of the nefarious overtones of law and order ‘framing’ (i.e., ‘setting up,’ ‘deceptively imputing guilt’). Cognitive linguist George Lakoff, in his highly influential 2004 book Don’t Think of an Elephant!, and books in its wake such as Jeffrey Feldman’s Framing the Debate, have shifted the way the phrase is understood to something like ‘commanding the language of the debate so as to slant it in your favor.’ So, for example, when conservatives are able to put the term ‘tax relief’ in common circulation, they have a significant edge in the debate over levels of taxation and governmental services, since ‘relief’ already embeds the implication of ‘comforting’ and ‘healthy’ and countering an extreme.


21 Sep

How Arguing Improves Students’ Reasoning Skills

Les Lynn Common Core, The Debatifier

by Hans Villarica, Education Writer

American educators agreed last year that argumentative reasoning should be taught in schools when those in most states adopted the new Common Core State Standards a state-led effort to establish educational benchmarks to prepare kindergarten through 12th grade students for college and career. Reaching a similar consensus on how to teach the art of arguing, however, hasn’t been as easy. But a new study published in the journal Psychological Science could offer a solution in the form of dialogue.


17 Sep

Argument Holds a ‘Special Place’ in the Common Core

Gerald Graff Common Core, The Debatifier

by Gerald Graff

Since the Common Core State Standards are long and diffuse, not all readers notice the special emphasis they place on argument, far more than did any previous standards.  Also easy to overlook is that the CCSS highlight the type of argument in which students engage with opposing views, evaluating “the strength and weaknesses of multiple perspectives” and anticipating “counterclaims in opposition to their own assertions.” 


14 Sep

Welcome to The Debatifier

Les Lynn The Debatifier

Welcome to the launch of The Debatifier, an education blog administered by Argument-Centered Education. The name comes from our term ‘to debatify’ – which means, to infuse argumentation and debate into curriculum in order to produce energy, engagement, and college-directed thinking and literacy skills.