There probably is no better single skill to prepare middle school and high school students for academic success in college, as well as professional success in life, than debate. Studying debate develops and accelerates myriad skills in students, such as critical thinking, research, oral and written communication, public speaking and team work. If done rightly, it also tends to develop intellectual curisosity and love of learning in the student.
Debate has a long and noble history in Western Civilization, going all the way back to ancient Greece. One of the core values of traditional Western Civilization is that ideas matter, and the best ideas should have preeminence in civilization. But, as anyone with a good idea knows, it takes much more than coming up with a good idea to see that good idea have fruition and make an impact on the world. The idea must be communicated to others. Audiences must be persuaded of the goodness or value of the idea. Teams must be motivated to act upon the idea to make the world a better place. And, as anyone who has tried to implement a good idea can verify, opposition to a new idea - even a very good one - invariably arises! Thus, the one who would bring a new good idea to fruition in society must be able to put forth a sound and convincing argument as to why his or idea should be chosen and embraced despite the opposition.
Factual evidence proves that middle school and high school students who participate in debate have higher rates of graduation, have higher rates of college attendance, do better in college, and have greater career success. But life is more than diplomas and dollars. Learning debate enhances life skills and will provide life-long benefits and rewards to the student.