Each semester I have my students write and present a persuasive speech and participate in two debates. Over the years I have used a variety of speech topics. Most of the topics emerge from current events. For each speech assignment students are given a differentiated list of choices around a specific theme. Below are 50 of the more recent persuasive speech and debate topics I have used with my students.
I. Research on the Teenage Brain
- Does video violence effects the teenage brain?
- Does the internet influence young people to engage in risky behavior?
- Once bad in math, a person will always be bad at math.
- Intelligence depends on environmental factors, not genetic factors.
- Starting school later is beneficial to teenage brain development.
- Parents who engaged with their children are more likely to excel in school and avoid risky behavior.
- Teachers need to teach content with the teenage brain in mind.
II. Physical Education and Sports
- Should physical education be mandatory for all students every day of the school week?
- Should students on sports teams be required to carry a certain grade point average [GPA] in order to play?
- Should coaches be required to give equal playing time to athletes at the secondary school level regardless of skills (middle and high school)?
- Are sports athletes role models?
- Is mandatory drug testing of all athletes on a secondary, collegiate, and professional level necessary?
- Are spectator sports overemphasized in America today?
- Should professional athletes who break the law (via drug use, illegal gambling, domestic abuse, etc.) be banned from their professional sport in addition to doing jail time?
- Should athletes who have taken performance enhancing drugs be admitted into the Hall of Fame?
- Should parent-spectators be required to sign a “Spectator Expectation Code of Conduct,” which includes prohibitions against verbal abuse and obnoxious behavior (“Respect all athletes, coaches, officials and fans.”) if their child plays a school sport. Thus, if a parent-spectator is found disrespecting a player, coach or opposing team they should be banned from attending their child’s athletic games.
III. Chew on This: The Obesity Epidemic
- Are Americans Getting Fatter? Does it Matter?
- The McLawsuit: Is the Fast-Food Industry Legally Accountable for Obesity?
- Do School Cafeterias Contribute to the Rise in Childhood Obesity?
- Can the growing problem of obesity in the US be reversed?
- Are Diet Companies in the Business to Help People or to Make a Profit?
- Are Low-Fat Foods the Healthier Alternatives?
- Should Sodas and Sugary Snacks be Sold in Vending Machines at Schools and Bake Sales be Banned?
- Is Obesity a Matter of Individual Responsibility? Who is Responsible for Controlling Obesity?
IV. National Security and Civil Liberties
- Does the US federal government have the authority to either detain without charge or search without probable cause?
- Should all foreigners entering the US be required to leave 2 finger prints and digital photographs of themselves?
- Should the US deny all foreigners with desires to attend American Universities to further education, whether M.I.T. or flight school?
- Is domestic wiretapping and surveillance acceptable without a court order?
- Should a wall be built between Canada and the US and Mexico and the US to keep out all suspected terrorists entering the US illegally?
- Is the US Patriot Act unconstitutional and jeopardizes civil liberties?
- Racial profiling: Is it necessary?
- Should there be stronger limits on immigration?
V. The First Amendment
- Controversial T-Shirts – If a student wears a controversial T-shirt, does the school board have the right to ban offensive and controversial clothing or does the student have the right to wear it under the first amendment?
- Cyber Bullying Statutes – If a student is bullying someone do they have the right to claim they have freedom of speech to say what they wanted?
- Posting Videos Online – Is This a Right & Your Freedom of Speech? – Does anyone have the right and freedom to post videos online even if the person taking the video does not have permission and the videos are of people in personal or compromising actions – a school fight, personal encounter.
VI. Technology and Education
- Are desktop computer outdated?
- Are computer labs unnecessary in schools today?
- Should students be allowed to use mobile devices in class?
- Should there be a filter on the internet in school?
- Should teachers friend students on Facebook?
- Should schools provide technology devices (i.e. tablets or laptops) for all students?
VII. School & Educational Issues
- School cafeterias should be transformed into food courts with fast food companies supplying meals.
- Students should be required to wear school uniforms.
- Schools should shift from a nine month school year to year-round schooling.
- It should be mandatory that no teacher assign homework over the weekend.
- Video cameras should be put into all classrooms to record student and teacher interactions at all times.
- School should begin later in the morning and end later in the day.
- Foreign Language should not be mandatory.
- Armed police guards and metal detectors should be installed in every school.