Debate Can Revolutionize Education and Help Save Our Democracy
Adopting a simple education reform to restore civil discourse and transform American society
In this era of extreme political polarization, it’s tempting to believe nothing can be done to heal a nation that is so obviously divided and led by dysfunctional politicians.
But there is a relatively simple and powerful way to begin the healing, and at the same time prepare the next generations of leaders for the rigorous demands of a constantly changing economy and society. The solution offered by this intriguing book is for schools across the country to focus on developing in students the skills of successful debaters. These are the skills—so clearly lacking in contemporary society—of listening and persuading, through civil discourse backed by fact-based evidence and reason.
Resolved explains how one simple educational reform can help address the nation’s political divide and at the same time help ensure that today’s young people will actually enjoy learning, and thus will have the necessary skills to lead productive and economically rewarding lives. The book offers practical ideas about a positive future for parents, educators, state legislators, business leaders—in fact, anyone interested in how debate-centered education can fundamentally change the country for the better.
Praise for Resolved
“Amidst all our passionate political conflicts, Bob Litan offers up just the kind of ‘modest proposal’ that, along with similar sensible initiatives on other fronts, will give Americans a fair chance of ‘binding up the nation’s wounds’ over the coming generation.”
—Bruce Ackerman, Sterling Professor of Law and Political Science, Yale University
“It would be easy to believe our lives would greatly improve if we all just decided to agree more, or perhaps disagree less. However, the key to progress and greater unity as a country isn’t actually less disagreement—it’s better disagreement. In Resolved, Robert Litan shows how we can do just this. Anyone interested in improving our nation’s civil discourse would benefit greatly from reading this wonderful book.”
—Arthur C. Brooks, author of Love Your Enemies; professor of the practice of public leadership, Harvard Kennedy School; faculty fellow, Harvard Business School
“In this highly original and provocative book, Bob Litan draws on his own experience as well as on promising experiments in Boston and Chicago to propose a systematic debate curriculum for middle- and high-school students. In addition to adding excitement for students, his proposal should help them develop the skills they will need for success.”
—Joel Klein, former chancellor, New York City public schools
“Bob Litan makes a very impressive and engaging case for a novel way of engaging students in the learning process and preparing them to be better workers and citizens, which would reinforce the importance of facts and critical reasoning and of understanding another’s point of view. These are critical skills if we want to both improve education and strengthen our democracy.”
—Isabel Sawhill, senior fellow, the Brookings Institution; author of The Forgotten Americans: An Economic Agenda for a Divided Nation
“For decades, Bob Litan has creatively used economics to ameliorate diverse social problems. Now he shows convincingly how debate-centered education can improve our schools, our thinking, and ultimately our politics.”
—Peter Schuck, Baldwin Professor of Law emeritus, Yale Law School