The Importance of Good Debate Skills

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Offline Md. Mehedi Hasan Shoyeb

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The Importance of Good Debate Skills
« on: April 12, 2011, 04:06:07 PM »

The importance of Good Debate Skills
I love debates. I love looking at them and I love getting into them. Debating is probably one of the best learning tools that you could possibly have. This is exactly why no black community with children should be without a debating league. No matter what profession you enter, you will need to know how to debate. If you are going to be an entrepreneur, then you should understand that your advertisement is nothing more than a form of debate with your competitors. If you are an engineer... oh boy, I remember from my days as a little jr. Soil Scientist in the ATL how heated meetings can become regarding the allocation of funds and the awarding of contracts. I also remember the heated moments I had with the builders and the contractors with regarding violations of ASTM standards. Debating skills are fundamental. A mentor of mine who knew Malcolm X from his days at NOI mosque #7 in Harlem, NY said that Malcolm used to always teach people never to loose a debate. Man, I really don't think people know just how important that is.

I really hope that community activists reading this will get off their butts this summer and start working on that. But you know... education should not just be for children. I think our community centers should also have classes where our adults can learn how to debate. That's enough with that topic. Here are some links on how to improve your debate skills...

List of debating skills by homework central
Planet Debate

Challenging Eurocentric Science and Math Paradigms
I am challenging people to change the way they think of science. When I mention the term "scientist," people think of people with aprons and goggles, beakers and Bunsen burners and I am sick of this narrow-mindedness. Here is what Merriam-Webster's dictionary has to say about what is science:

Pronunciation: 'sI-&n(t)s
Function: noun
Etymology: Middle English, from Middle French, from Latin scientia, from scient-, sciens having knowledge, from present participle of scire to know; probably akin to Sanskrit chyati he cuts off, Latin scindere to split -- more at SHED Date: 14th century
1 : the state of knowing : knowledge as distinguished from ignorance or misunderstanding
2 a : a department of systematized knowledge as an object of study b : something (as a sport or technique) that may be studied or learned like systematized knowledge
3 a : knowledge or a system of knowledge covering general truths or the operation of general laws especially as obtained and tested through scientific method b : such knowledge or such a system of knowledge concerned with the physical world and its phenomena : NATURAL SCIENCE
4 : a system or method reconciling practical ends with scientific laws

Do you realize that just about everything requires a system of analytical reasoning? Since when was this stuff limited to the age of Sir Isaac Newton and Galileo? Why is the magnificence of Science in the modern context limited to the faculties of MIT, Stanford, Harvard, University of Michigan and Cal Tech? The paradigm of Eurocentrism, as can be clearly seen in any Foundations of Education class, begins with Greece, as I have spoke about in a previous mantidote, divides into classes. The word "School" comes from the Greek word for "brotherhood." It is the same concept as a fraternity, which is a selective group of people. In other words, Educational values throughout European culture have always been class based. During the "age of enlightenment," the educated person could be distinguished by his ability to read and write. Most people could not. Furthermore, you had to read in write in Latin. In other Non-European cultures, a solid education was considered to be a necessary part of being a functional person in society and educational practice was integrated within rites-of-passage into manhood and womanhood. Examples of this include medicinal practices of the Massai, which are learned through rites-of-passage and the sand drawings of the Sokwe peoples of southern Africa.

The same thing goes for the definition of a mathematician. I decided to consult Merriam-Webster's dictionary again for the definition of mathematics. Here's what I came up with:

Pronunciation: "math-'ma-tiks, "ma-th&-
Function: noun plural but usually singular in construction
Date: 1581
1 : the science of numbers and their operations, interrelations, combinations, generalizations, and abstractions and of space configurations and their structure, measurement, transformations, and generalizations

If this is mathematics, then why are professionals like accountants, stockbrokers, meteorologists, inventors, pilots, plumbers and master electricians excluded from this definition when all of those things involve an analytical mind for phenomena that involve numbers? There are so many people that I meet that have a mind for math that don't even realize it and insist that math is not for them! The sad part is that there are so many different ways to learn mathematics. But we are forced to learn under what I choose to call "Fraternal Learning." That is… if you do not fit into a certain class of a learning style, then you are rendered ignorant and unable to be of significant intellectual capabilities. What's funny is the very idols of Eurocentric Science paradigms such as Isaac Newton and Albert Einstein also had trouble with being understood in grade school.

I challenge African American teachers to learn about their own indigenous ways of knowing. Be on the lookout for works by me in the future on the subject of indigenous African Knowledge and applied Afro-centrism (that means join my mailing list, hahaha). Meanwhile, I highly recommend:

"Know Thyself" and "Light from Ancient Africa" by Na'im Akbar

"Africa Counts: Number and Pattern in African Culture" by Claudia
"Science and an African Logic" by Helen Verran