The Instigator
Pro (for)
12 Points
The Contender
Con (against)
7 Points

A psychology course should be mandated for all high school students in the US.

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 4/4/2010 Category: Education
Updated: 6 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 3,380 times Debate No: 11626
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (5)
Votes (3)




I will use this first round simply to set some clear boundaries for this debate. I got this idea from a debate I saw between Logician and RoyLatham (1), who are both supreme debaters. NO ARGUMENTS SHOULD BE GIVEN IN THIS FIRST ROUND. The next 3 rounds will be the usual debate.

I'll go ahead and define some of the more important terms.

1. Psychology - the science of mind and behavior; the study of mind and behavior in relation to a particular field of knowledge or activity (2).

-Therefore, the field of psychology can be argued in and of itself, or the effects of psychology on other fields (for example, business or politics) can be argued by both sides. Either side can argue why these things are good or bad.

-For clarification, the psychology courses themselves will teach a range of different branches from Freud to body language and everything in between (although the Pro will go ahead and admit that the courses will heavily favor the two fields of Transactional Analysis and body language; the other fields will be included for fairness and for history's sake).

2. Course - a number of lectures or other matter dealing with a subject constituting a curriculum (3).

-I originally wanted to say "class" instead of "course," but the definitions are pretty vague. This is the standard stuff, nothing funky going on here. Whatever is normally going on in a high school or home school classroom will go on here too.

3. Mandate - an authoritative command (4).

-To make sure the course curriculum matches nationwide, the course will be mandated by the federal government.

And that's pretty much all I needed to say. Although I appreciate semantics and understand why they're useful sometimes, I hate seeing a debate go off on a tangent because of them. This round is just a precaution against that. The Con's first round should simply be an acceptance statement (although I wouldn't care if they felt the need to thank everyone who's brought them this far, e.g. their parents, their friends, the Academy...) The debate will start in Round 2.

The Con is free to post any definitions and clarifications in Round 1 if it feels like it'll need more space in Round 2, but it should realize that it'll be opening up some clues to me. If anybody has any more questions, please ask them in the comments box.

And besides the arguments the Pro has opened itself up to with the definitions above, I also wanted to suggest that maybe the Con could argue that a different class be mandated instead of psychology? That should give the Con its own chunk of advantage to argue from.



Psychology courses should be mandated but only for ROTC students or students with serious issues that they cant control.
Debate Round No. 1


Er, I will first admit that I'm confused that the Con put an argument in Round 1 when I asked that arguments wait until Round 2. Still, onward...

== What Transactional Analysis is (a brief summary, but entirely skim-able)==

Transactional Analysis is a branch of psychology that got a good movement going during the 70's. Since then, it seems to have flown under the radar. Transactional Analysis is psychology that is both easy to understand and make use of during daily activities, and also more relevant than what people consider psychology to be. Freud (the classic symbol of psychoanalytical thought) said that the human mind is made up of the Id, Ego, and Superego, right? He said that we "subconsciously" slip into those roles. Well, that's not very useful knowledge... (If you did something today, it's because you subconsciously decided you would do it. The answer is in what you weren't aware you were thinking and didn't do.)

So, TA proposes 3 new circles: Parent, Adult, and Child (1). The reason that this is a much better taxonomy is that you can SEE someone shifting gears between them; these are real features.
-The Parent is a collection of all the data that your parents or other important authority figures told you from birth up until 5 years of age (includes beliefs such as all cops are bad; you can never trust a woman; treat others as you'd like to be treated). The physical signs of someone in the Parent include hands on hips, sighing, and a pointing index finger (don't tell me you haven't seen this before). The Parent will use words like "always" and "once and for all."
-The Child is the recording of internal events in relation to Parent dictates until 5 years of age. Here are the memories of glee, fear, and excitement. Some physical signs include giggling, pouting, and lip-biting. Some vocal clues are "I wish," "I guess," "bigger," "best."
-And finally, the Adult is first formed at 10 months of age. That's the time when babies are first able to understand cause-and-effect (the food is delicious, the pan is hot). This is the data-processing center that will make most of our decisions throughout our lives.
-The importance of recognizing these 3 areas is to also recognize what happens when someone speaks from a different circle. Very often, someone who is stressed and tired will forgo the work of the Adult and will shift into the Parent, answering conversations with whatever their archaic data has deemed to be true and without considering cause-and-effect (the mailman must have screwed up; this new technology is too complicated and is crap). They may also speak from their Child, and respond either with naive and dangerous glee or with fear (this tastes great! I should drink a lot of this!; why me?! I can't do this...) The goal of TA is to hopefully acknowledge where you're coming from and to acknowledge where others are speaking from.

== 2 reasons why learning psychology is important==

1. Students who learn TA in psychology classes will more actively fight prejudices and discrimination.

-Ideally, the 3 circles are completely separate, but frequently they overlap. One dangerous scenario is when the Parent and Adult complexes overlap: "We all know how difficult it is to reason with a prejudiced person... The Parent in these people steadfastly dominates a portion of the Adult, and they will surround their prejudicial cases with all kinds of irrelevant arguments to support their position... The only ways to eliminate prejudice are to uncover the fact that it is no longer dangerous to disagree with one's parents and to update the Parent with data from today's reality."(1)

-By having every high school student in the US learn TA, they will be more astute at recognizing when they believe something without a reason underneath. A much larger percentage of our growing generation will be able to reconsider old positions on issues and declare a newer, more just way of viewing issues, rights, and peoples of all types.

2. Studying the application of body language will help students lower conflicts and develop better relationships, increasing the effectiveness of business done through any language.

-Businesspeople who can effectively incorporate body language techniques are more successful when dealing with others. "Dominance through height is a truism that works from the animal kingdom to man... The same positioning occurs with humans. We are all aware of the tradition of abasement before a king, before idols, before altars. Bowing and scraping in general are all variations of superiority or inferiority by height... A young man I know, well over six feet tall, was extremely successful in business because of his ability to show empathy for his associates. Observing hm in action in some successful business transactions I became aware that whenever possible he stooped, sloped his body, or sat, in order to allow his associate to achieve dominance and feel superior."(2)

-The opposite is also true; businesspeople without knowledge of the psychological importance of space are more likely to commit blunders. "A businessman who was trying a bit too hard to wind up a very profitable deal found that he had misread the signs. 'It was a deal... that would have been profitable not only to me but to [him] as well. [He] was... from Bountiful, which isn't far away geographically, but is miles away culturally... Deep down, he was convinced that the deal was right for both of us, but he just couldn't trust my approach... I tried to cut through his image of the big city businessman by putting my arm around his shoulder. And that darn touch blew everything.' What my businessman friend had done was violate [the person's] barrier of defenses with a nonverbal gesture for which the groundwork had not been laid." (2)

== The clash==

So far, the Con has argued that psychology should only be a mandated class for students in the Reserve Officer's Training Corps and for students with serious issues. The Pro is interested in hearing some more reasons and arguments in the coming speeches. The Pro argues that instead of only these two groups, all students should be mandated to learn psychology for an increased effectiveness in fighting prejudice and in making personable relations. The Pro welcomes the Con to make more arguments (hopefully expanding this debate to a much bigger discussion) and reserves the right to make more points in the next Round should it be necessary.

(1) Harris, Thomas A. "I'm OK-- You're OK: A Practical Guide to Transactional Analysis." New York: Harper and Row, Publishers, Inc.: 1969. 65-67, 98-99
(2) Fast, Julius. "Body Language." New York: M. Evans and Company, Inc.: 1970. 51, 13-14.


I agree with Pros standing on relations but injustices and discriminations should wait till college. High schol students simply cannot grasp psychology. In fact a small percentage of teenagers pay attention in school nowadays, I highly doubt that theyll understand this course of psychology.
Debate Round No. 2


The Pro thanks the Con for a prompt response and will rebut his arguments.

== Main points==

The Pro would like to extend his previous assertions. First, the Pro described Transactional Analysis, a different flavor of psychology. The Pro also described how mandating that high school students learn TA, body language, and other fields would help in the fight against prejudice and would also increase personal relations.

= The Con's points==

The Con previously made an argument saying that psychology should only be taught to ROTC students and students who have trouble controlling themselves. The Pro simply stated in response that psychology must be taught to all students so that the entire youth would be able to fight discrimination and bond effectively.

Next, the Con has argued that "High schol students simply cannot grasp psychology. In fact a small percentage of teenagers pay attention in school nowadays..." and that it "should wait till college."

== The Pro's rebuttal==

-First, the Pro will concede that high school students have a short attention span, namely about 8-14 minutes. (1) However, high school lessons have been designed in a way that their attention span not interfere with their ability to learn. The Pro encourages everyone clicking on source 1. Therefore, their attention span will not interfere in their ability to learn psychology.

-Second, the Pro would like to point out that 69.2% of high school students graduate in the US.(2) These students have shown that they have been able to sufficiently learn a variety of other subjects, including math, science, history, and English. This should prove that they are able to learn required subjects, so they should also be able to learn the required subject of psychology.

-Third, waiting until college means that a huge chunk of the youth will miss this education. The high school drop-outs who don't make it to college would not make it to the course. However, a much bigger group of students would miss it for another reason: the existence of private schools. The US government does not have the ability to mandate anything for private institutions, only for public ones. Therefore, anybody at Harvard, Yale, Rice, Amherst, or any other private school wouldn't be mandated to take the class. There are about 2441 private universities in the US, as opposed to 1699 public ones. (3) That means that only about 41% are public. Under the Con's suggestion that psychology be mandated in college instead of high school, the Con would affect about 41% of the youth. The Pro will go ahead and account for the presence of private schools that occur before college. There are 48,755,772 students currently enrolled in public schools (including elementary and middle school) and 5,376,604 students enrolled in private schools. (4) That means that about 90% of the youth will go through public schools before college. Therefore, mandating that psychology be learned in high school will reach about 50% more students than the Con's proposal of mandating in college (although I realize that there is some dissimilarity between the statistics, so give the 50% a +/- 10% or so).

-Fourth, Transactional Analysis isn't your standard stuff. TA is different from other branches of psychology in that it is designed to be extremely easy to comprehend and utilize. "One difficulty with many psychoanalytic words is that they do not have the same meanings for everybody. The word ego, for instance, means many things to many people. Freud had an elaborate definition, as has nearly every psychoanalyst since his time; but these long, complicated constructions are not particularly helpful to a patient who is trying to understand why he can never hold a job, particularly if one of his problems is that he cannot read well enough to follow instructions... The vocabulary of Transactional Analysis is the precision tool of treatment because, in a language anyone can understand, it identifies things that really are, the reality of experiences that really happened in the lives of people who really existed... Training programs... in a ' "public" language, decontaminated of technical jargon and suited to the discussion of universal problems in our society' is being made possible today by Transactional Analysis." (5)
Therefore, TA will be no setback for high school students. The words used (Parent, Adult, Child, OK, NOT OK, games, stroking) are already in their vocabulary.

== Basically==

To condense all 4 points, there's no reason in postponing a psychology course to college because
1) High school students will understand it just as well.
And 2) Waiting until college will mean that a lot of students will miss the course and not learn it.

The Pro welcomes any new Con arguments.

(5) Harris, Thomas A. "I'm OK-- You're OK: A Practical Guide to Transactional Analysis." New York: Harper and Row, Publishers, Inc.: 1969. xiv-xvi.


Ok i would like to thank Pro for his argument. I do agree that if students drop out of high school theyll never learn psychology. But high schools dont even teach sexual education anymore. So why should they learn psychology? well They should at least learn the principles of Freud, But nothing beyond that. So i stand by my argument and look forward to a rebuttal
Debate Round No. 3


The Pro would like to first thank the Con for a pretty good debate. I would be happy to debate someone else on this topic should anyone be interested, because I feel as if this could have expanded to a much bigger discussion, but whatevs. I'd also be open to challenges about anything else.

== The Pro's case (again, but it's getting shorter)==

The youth of the US would benefit greatly from learning psychology. The two branches of Transactional Analysis and body language, in particular, have huge benefits. TA helps people not only overcome daily stress through an easily communicated language but also recognize any prejudices within themselves so that they can actively fight past assumptions and discrimination. Second, studying body language will help citizens learn about the instinctual borders in space and non verbal communication, benefiting relations in many scenarios and especially in business. Sadly, many students (myself included) are unable to take psychology classes in high school due to conflicts or simply a lack of awareness of the advantages of the class. Therefore, the US federal government needs to mandate that every high school student take a psychology class, so that the US youth can make great strides and gain great rewards in the knowledge.

== The Con's arguments (so far)==

The Con has made 3 arguments so far, and the Pro will address them straight down in order (to cover all its bases).

1. The Con suggested that instead of the Pro's proposal to mandate psychology for all high school students, only ROTC and students with serious issues should be mandated to take the class. The Pro simply argues in response that this would mean that a huge chunk of the youth wouldn't get the benefits of learning the class. This means that the two benefits of the Pro's case would be much weaker in the Con's proposal.

2. The Con next argued that the psychology class should be mandated in college instead. The Pro made 4 points in response detailing that high school students would learn the material just as well and also that this delay in the mandate will mean that 50% (+/- 10%) of the youth would miss the education. Again, the Con's proposal would have weaker benefits versus the Pro's case.

3. Finally, the Con has argued that "high schools dont even teach sexual education anymore. So why should they learn psychology?" The Pro can easily answer the second question with a copy-paste-Round 2-here. There are 2 reasons why they should learn psychology: they will fight prejudice and improve relations. It is necessary that they learn far beyond Freud to the fields of TA and body language to attain these abilities. Next, the Pro will argue that the fact that high schools don't teach sexual education anymore is irrelevant. The Con could have made a convincing argument as to why sexual education is more important and should be mandated instead of psychology (an opportunity cost argument) but the Pro is sad to say that the debate is finishing up and it would be a bit too late for that new argument.

== The scoreboard==

As it stands, the Pro is still defending two unique reasons why a world with a mandated psychology class is good.
The Con has made a couple arguments here and there, but none of them have either proven that 1) The Pro's case isn't as good as it says it is.
Nor proven that 2) The Pro's case causes harmful things to happen.
The Con's arguments have offered suggestions as to other actions that can be taken, but these have also not received any explanation as to why they would have a net benefit over the Pro's case. Regardless, they've all received some extensive answering.

Therefore, barring some sort of super-argument pulled out in the last Round by the Con (which should trigger some conduct vote backlash), a voter can be safe in knowing that according to the arguments presented by both sides in this debate, mandating that high school students take a psychology course will only cause good things to happen. When looking at whether or not to do something (such as mandate a psychology course), when the two options are either do it and receive pure benefits or not do it and feel no change over the status quo, one should vote for the world that has pure benefit, i.e. the Pro. The Pro rests his case.


The con would like to thank Pro for this debate. Anyway, TA should be taught in colleges simply because the knowledge would be fresh in their minds. As I said,most high school students dont pay attention. So why shouldnt they learn it in college?
Debate Round No. 4
5 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 5 records.
Posted by ALBi 6 years ago
If everyone could understand the concept of Psychology this might be a good idea....
But, face it, there are some people who can not. Such people with a little amount of Psychological knowledge and no understanding of it that can be very detrimental to everyone around them.
Posted by Fazwe 6 years ago
As a person attracted to the field of Psychology i personally would enjoy a quality debate on this topic. The Educational System in America needs serious reform, and I am really disappointed that the Pro's Arguments don't get the time of the day with the Con's terse and often pissy rebuttals.
Posted by Ninja_Tru 6 years ago
Oh, I agree, Transactional Analysis is losing lots of popularity. Its peak moment was probably around 1970. Still, that doesn't mean it's not a good branch. I recently finished a book on it, and I'll be quoting it a bit in the debate.
Posted by OLAN 6 years ago
an intersting yet random topc
Posted by Puck 6 years ago
Your choices are odd. TA on it's own is an odd choice because it's one of many therapy lines a practitioner can use, certainly not at the top of the list of 'this is what real life clinicians do'. Not to mention as a cross field technique, it's dropping in a topic devoid of requisite background in a lot of other fields. And BL analysis? Why would you be teaching that to highschoolers? It has value, but it's a limited field.

They do Psych 101 classes for a reason. :P
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