In my writing course this quarter, we are finishing up the unit on argument and evidence. Everyone in the class picked an Oxford style debate to listen to. Now they are writing up a position paper intended to inform a continued user-generated online debate. We discussed the form and function of formal modes of debate. We also read about the etiquette and ethics of argumentation.
So on the eve of an election, I asked them if the rules of argument we've discussed in class are used to guide arguments in high profile settings like presidential campaigns.
I wasn't surprised to hear an overwhelming 'no,' but I was more interested in the answers to the next question: If we don't see quality arguments in high profile settings, then what is the advantage to learning how to produce a quality argument?
My students gave some thoughtful responses, but I'd like to throw this question out there.