As a middle school student, developing critical thinking skills and learning to communicate effectively are essential components of academic success. One of the best ways to develop these skills is through participation in debates. Debating helps students to build confidence, learn how to structure an argument, and become more persuasive communicators. In this article, we’ve compiled a list of 110 engaging middle school debate topics, along with tips for preparing for a debate and additional resources to help students improve their skills.
To start off the article, let’s dive into an anecdote of a successful middle school debate. For instance, “Have you ever witnessed a middle school debate where students passionately presented their arguments and rebuttals? It’s an incredible sight to see. Recently, during a middle school debate tournament, a group of students debated on the topic of school uniforms. They presented compelling arguments for both sides, and their delivery was so impressive that even the judges struggled to pick a winner. Such debating skills are not only useful in school but can also help students in their future academic and professional lives.”
How to choose a good debate topic
Choosing a good debate topic can be challenging, but here are some tips to help middle school students find topics that are relevant, interesting, and debatable:
- Select a topic that is relevant to current events or issues that students care about.
- Choose a topic that has strong arguments on both sides.
- Consider the age-appropriateness of the topic for middle school students.
Here is a list of 110 debate topics that are categorized by subject area and themes that are relevant to middle school students, such as social justice, technology, or the environment.
1. Should schools require students to learn a second language?
2. Should voting be mandatory?
3. Should the voting age be lowered to 16?
4. Should the U.S. government provide free health care for all citizens?
5. Should the U.S. government provide more financial aid to developing countries?
6. Should the U.S. government provide more funding for space exploration?
7. Should the United States have a national service program for all citizens?
8. Should the Electoral College be abolished?
9. Should the U.S. government increase the minimum wage?
10. Should undocumented immigrants be allowed to attend public schools?
11. Should genetically modified organisms (GMOs) be allowed in food?
12. Should zoos be banned?
13. Should animal testing be allowed?
14. Should the use of fossil fuels be banned?
15. Should the use of pesticides be banned?
16. Should space exploration be prioritized over ocean exploration?
17. Should scientists be allowed to genetically modify human embryos?
18. Should vaccination be mandatory for all school children?
19. Should humans colonize Mars?
20. Should plastic water bottles be banned?
21. Should schools require students to learn computer programming?
22. Should schools eliminate the use of standardized testing?
23. Should schools switch to year-round schedules?
24. Should schools eliminate homework?
25. Should students be allowed to use calculators in math class?
26. Should schools eliminate grades and tests altogether?
27. Should schools switch to a pass/fail grading system?
28. Should schools allow students to use cell phones in class?
29. Should schools switch to e-books instead of traditional textbooks?
30. Should schools eliminate handwriting instruction?
31. Should schools teach cursive handwriting?
32. Should schools teach media literacy and critical thinking skills?
33. Should schools eliminate spelling tests?
34. Should schools require students to read certain books?
35. Should schools teach coding instead of traditional language arts?
36. Should schools eliminate the use of paper and switch to digital submissions?
37. Should schools ban students from using slang in class?
38. Should the death penalty be abolished?
39. Should there be stricter gun control laws?
40. Should hate speech be protected under the First Amendment?
41. Should hate crimes carry steeper penalties than other crimes?
42. Should affirmative action policies be implemented in college admissions?
43. Should reparations be paid to descendants of slaves?
44. Should police officers be required to wear body cameras at all times?
45. Should marijuana be legalized?
46. Should the drinking age be lowered to 18?
47. Should the government provide a free college education for all citizens?
48. Should prisoners be allowed to vote?
49. Should euthanasia be legalized?
50. Should video games be considered a sport?
51. Should social media companies be held responsible for misinformation on their platforms?
52. Should children under the age of 13 be allowed to use social media?
53. Should artificial intelligence be used in decision-making processes?
54. Should autonomous vehicles be allowed on the roads?
55. Should companies be allowed to use personal data for targeted advertising?
56. Should encryption be required for all online communication?
57. Should net neutrality be enforced?
58. Should hunting be banned?
59. Should there be stricter regulations on water pollution?
60. Should there be more public transportation options to reduce car emissions?
61. Should fracking be banned?
62. Should zoos and aquariums focus more on conservation efforts?
63. Should renewable energy sources be prioritized over fossil fuels?
64. Should the use of single-use plastics be banned?
65. Should the government provide incentives for eco-friendly behaviors?
Arts and Culture
66. Should the government fund public art installations?
67. Should the government regulate the content of movies and TV shows?
68. Should book censorship be allowed?
69. Should public monuments honoring controversial historical figures be removed?
70. Should the government fund the production of movies and TV shows?
71. Should public funding for the arts be increased?
72. Should music and art classes be required in schools?
73. Should museums be free for all visitors?
74. Should graffiti be considered art?
75. Should high school athletes be drug tested?
76. Should cheerleading be considered a sport?
77. Should professional athletes be held to higher standards of behavior?
78. Should professional sports teams be allowed to use Native American mascots?
79. Should women be allowed to play on men’s sports teams?
80. Should sports teams be required to hire a certain number of minority coaches?
81. Should athletes be allowed to kneel during the national anthem?
82. Should college athletes be paid?
83. Should performance-enhancing drugs be legalized in sports?
84. Should boxing be banned?
Food and Health
85. Should there be a tax on sugary drinks?
86. Should the government regulate the portion sizes of restaurant meals?
87. Should there be a limit on the amount of salt in processed foods?
88. Should junk food advertisements be banned?
89. Should vegetarianism be promoted in schools?
90. Should schools teach more about healthy eating and exercise?
91. Should fast food restaurants be banned from schools?
92. Should school lunches be free for all students?
93. Should schools eliminate soda machines?
94. Should the study of history be mandatory in schools?
95. Should the U.S. government pay reparations to Native American tribes?
96. Should the U.S. government apologize for the internment of Japanese Americans during WWII?
97. Should the U.S. government provide reparations to descendants of Holocaust survivors?
98. Should the U.S. government apologize for slavery?
99. Should the U.S. government provide reparations to descendants of Chinese railroad workers?
100. Should women be included in the military draft?
101. Should Columbus Day be abolished?
Business and Economics
102. Should the U.S. government increase funding for scientific research?
103. Should the U.S. government increase funding for public education?
104. Should the U.S. government increase taxes on the wealthy?
105. Should companies be required to provide paid parental leave?
106. Should companies be required to provide a living wage for all employees?
107. Should the government provide financial incentives for small businesses?
108. Should the government bail out struggling industries?
109. Should the U.S. government provide free public transportation?
110. Should the U.S. government provide a universal basic income?
How to prepare for a debate
Preparing for a debate is just as important as choosing the right topic. Here are some tips for researching and preparing arguments, as well as strategies for presenting arguments effectively and persuasively:
- Research the topic thoroughly, using a variety of sources.
- Identify the strongest arguments for both sides.
- Develop a clear thesis statement and supporting arguments.
- Anticipate counterarguments and prepare rebuttals.
- Use evidence to support arguments.
- Practice delivering arguments and rebuttals in a clear and concise manner.
- Follow the standard format for a debate, such as opening statements, cross-examination, and closing statements.
Additional resources for middle school debaters
Here are some additional resources that can help students learn more about debate and improve their skills:
- National Speech & Debate Association (NSDA): Offers resources for middle and high school debaters, including competitions and training programs.
- Debatepedia: Provides resources for researching and debating controversial issues.
- ProCon.org: Provides arguments for both sides of controversial issues.
- Debate.org: Offers an online debate platform for students to practice and refine their skills.