Making Connections Across History Through Debate

Home / School News / Making Connections Across History Through Debate

Over the course of the semester, Roberto Clemente Community Academy, IB Diploma Program History students have been studying various movements, all with the goal of gaining freedoms or gaining independence. These movements include the Civil Rights Movement in the United States, the movement to end Apartheid in South Africa, and the independence movement in India. In their studies, students have looked at the different philosophies and leaders of each movement including Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela, and Mahatma Gandhi as well as Malcolm X, Albert Luthuli, and Mohammad Jinnah.

While all of these movements made great progress toward similar goals, their methods of getting there varied. All groups used boycotts and protests, but some, as in the case of uMkhonto we Sizwe (MK) in South Africa, used violence to achieve their goals. Clemente’s IB Diploma Program students examined these similarities and differences with the goal of determining whether non-violent civil disobedience or violent struggle was the most effective form of protest in seeking societal change.

To do this, students reviewed notes, primary sources, documentaries, and informational texts to identify specific organizations and individuals that advocated for civil disobedience and those who advocated for violence. Students then examined the immediate and long term effects of those philosophies and actions including how those actions impacted societal perceptions of each group and if they ultimately lead to the fulfillment of their goals. From this, they developed claims, identified key evidence and developed their reasoning. But, as good debaters do, they also examined opposing views including the opposition’s evidence and reasoning.

Next week, with this information as well as debate plans in hand, students will engage in a debate over the effectiveness of each method referring to these movements as their evidence. In this traditional debate, students will work toward not only advancing their own argument but highlighting the faults in within that of their opposition.