Millhopper Montessori School held its biennial Middle School debate on Friday, February 22, 2019. The following topics were debated by sixth through eighth graders:
Artificial Intelligence and Human Labor
PRO: Artificial Intelligence Has a Negative Impact on Human Labor.
CON: Artificial Intelligence Does Not Have a Negative Impact on Human Labor.
The Internet’s Impact on Society
PRO: The Internet Has a Negative Impact on Society.
CON: The Internet Does Not Have a Negative Impact on Society.
The Government’s Regulations on the Internet
PRO: The Government Should Be the Gatekeeper’s of the Internet.
Con: The Government Should Not Be the Gatekeeper’s of the Internet

The majority of Millhopper Montessori School Middle School students have been attending the school since preschool or elementary age, benefiting from the Speech, Debate, and Drama program developed by instructor, Sylvia Aslanian, who has been affiliated with MMS since 1994. Speech, Debate, and Drama are integral parts of the curriculum for all first through eighth graders. Speech and Public Speaking are taught to ease the students into speaking in front of groups. In first through third grades they learn delivery techniques by reading from their journals and presenting poems or stories. The fourth and fifth graders begin to write their own speeches and deliver them. In sixth through eighth grades, the students learn to write various speeches and deliver them in various styles. By eighth grade, the students deliver their speeches extemporaneously using a keyword outline and also deliver a five minute impromptu speech. Lessons of voice projection, varying tones, and proper body language, as well as not fidgeting and being prepared, begin in the first grade and continue through eighth grade.

Debate teaches formal discussion of various opinions. The first through third graders learn to make informed opinions by discussing the differences between gathering information before the opinion is formed and making an opinion without knowing all the facts. Fourth and fifth graders, in opposing teams, research a simple issue, formulate an opinion, and write an introduction, talking points with backing research, and a conclusion before presenting a debate. The middle school students spend weeks researching a current event, environmental issue, or historical issue and present a formal debate to the first through fifth grade students every other year.