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The Contender
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Teaching is the most important role in society

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 5/27/2014 Category: Education
Updated: 2 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 6,818 times Debate No: 55543
Debate Rounds (3)
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Teaching is the most important role because the teacher is directly influencing the next generation who will be leading the world in the future. As Henry Adams once said, "A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops."

Round 1 is acceptance, opening quotes and remarks.
Round 2 is rebuttal
Round 3 is rebuttal and closing remarks


I accept.

I have no quotes or remarks and await formal argumentation.
Debate Round No. 1


Teaching is important because, as I mentioned earlier, it influences future leaders. It is said that "the hand that rocks the cradle rocks the world" and that is true of teaching. Those who mold children when they are young are laying the foundations for the adult. C.S. Lewis (a famous author and a good friend of Tolkien) was very influenced by his teachers. One of his teachers at a very bad boarding school taught him to hate learning and to live in fear of caning. This experience laid the foundation for "The Silver Chair" where his characters endured a lot of bullying. In contrast, his tutor Mr. Kirkpatrick, taught him precise words and thought in a method that he would use with his own students. (Stories from "The Storyteller; by Derick Bingham. Published in 1999)
Another example of a teacher with great influence was Annie Sullivan, who taught Helen Keller. Helen Keller, with the skills she learned from Annie was able to help many blind and deaf children. Helen Keller International says:

"Helen Keller was born in Tuscumbia, Alabama, in 1880. When she was only 19 months old, she contracted a fever that left her blind and deaf. When she was almost seven years old, her parents engaged Anne Mansfield Sullivan to be her tutor. With dedication, patience, courage and love, Miss Sullivan was able to evoke and help develop the child's enormous intelligence. Helen Keller quickly learned to read and write, and began to speak by the age of 10. When she was 20, she entered Radcliffe College, with Miss Sullivan at her side to spell textbooks " letter by letter " into her hand. Four years later, Radcliffe awarded Helen Keller a Bachelor"s degree magna cum laude. After graduation, Helen Keller began her life's work of helping blind and deaf-blind people. She appeared before state and national legislatures and international forums, traveled around the world to lecture and to visit areas with a high incidence of blindness, and wrote numerous books and articles. She met every U.S. president from Grover Cleveland to Lyndon Johnson, and played a major role in focusing the world's attention on the problems of the blind and the need for preventive measures. Miss Keller won numerous honors, including honorary university degrees, the Lions Humanitarian Award, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, and election to the Women's Hall of Fame. During her lifetime, she was consistently ranked near the top of "most admired" lists. She died in 1968, leaving a legacy that Helen Keller International is proud to carry on in her name and memory."
All of this could not have happened if Annie Sullivan had not taught Helen how to communicate with the world.
Another famous teacher was Socrates. Socrates taught Plato, and Plato's works have influenced western thought for centuries.
Even Adolf Hitler recognized the great impact teachers had on society and twisted them for his own purposes to groom children for service in his regime.
The History learning site says:
"Adolf Hitler considered education to be a very important factor in Nazi Germany. When he wrote "Mein Kampf" while serving out a prison sentence at Landsberg, Hitler wrote "whoever has the youth has the future". In Hitler"s Germany, education would be the key that ensured that he had "the youth" of Germany. Hitler"s view on education was that it served a sole purpose " to ensure that a child was loyal to the Nazi state to ensure that the Third Reich lasted for 1000 years."
Those who want to control society first control the schools. Soviet Russia also used this fact to advantage:
"In the Soviet period, education was highly centralized, and indoctrination in Marxist-Leninist theory was a major element of every school's curriculum." ( The Soviets used the schools to brain-wash the children to become blind leaders of the state.

But why is teaching so influential?
Susan Wise Bauer, a home-school educator, as well as a professor at the College of William and Mary, describes three stages of learning for a child: the grammar stage, the logic stage, and the rhetoric stage. The grammar stage covers grades Kindergarten to Fourth grade. During this time:
"The immature mind is more suited to absorption than argument. The critical and logical faculty simply doesn't develop until later on. The typical second grader will take great joy in singing the latest television commercials to you word for word but will stare at you slack-jawed if you ask him why the advertiser wants him to buy the product, or what the merits of the product are, or whether it's reasonably priced. There is nothing wrong with a child accumulating information that he doesn't yet understand. It all goes into the storehouse for use later on." (The Well-Trained Mind by Susan Wises Bauer and Jessie Wise. Copyright 2009)
In the Logic stage, this phenomenon is lessened as the child learns to think critically. In the Rhetoric stage, the child learns to adequately express their opinions.
But the reason why teaching is so key is what is learned in the Grammar stage. In those early years, what a child learns is critical, because he or she will not question it and merely accept it. That is why indoctrinating school-children is easy. They believe everything you tell them.
A child is like clay, when they are young, they are easily molded under a teacher's influence, but when they get older, they begin to be less mold-able and more likely to hold their own shape instead. What has been imprinted on them in the early years will influence them in the later ones. That is why a teacher's role is so key. He or she has the power to shape society.
And that power is formidable indeed.


90% of Pro's entire argument has been the words of someone other than her. I hope people take this into account when marking conduct.

Pro's argument essentially revolves around the theory that because teaching is one, of many, influences of political leaders that is therefore the most important role in society.

This is a self-refuting argument because if the justification for teaching comes from world leaders, then my opponent is valuing the words of world leaders above those of teachers. If the words of world leaders are being valued as most valuable then political leaders are the most important role in society, not teachers.

In fact any doctor or nurse who helps save a teacher's life will inevitably be more important, or equivalently important to that teacher.

Another problem is with the resolution itself. Teaching is not a role in society, it is a duty played by the role of a 'teacher'. Thus, the resolution itself is impossible to uphold.

Now I shall dismantle Pro's case piece by piece.

The first quote comes from Henry Adams, a historian [].

A historian's words being Pro's fundamental foundation for their case indicates that Historians play a more important role in society than teachers.

Henry Adams also made these two quotes:

(1) "Friends are born, not made."
This is false because people must be made, as in conceived, before they are born. Also you can 'make friends'.[]

(2) "Nothing in education is so astonishing as the amount of ignorance it accumulates in the form of inert facts."
This indicates that he doesn't support teachers, he only thinks that they influence eternity, and probably do so in a very negative manner.

I have both negated the validity of the man making the quote and proven that he never intended it to be interpreted as teaching being the most important role in society.

After this, Pro goes on to talk about the abusive teacher that caned C.D. Lewis. I am not sure how the fact that an author was caned by a teacher and has recurring nightmares of this means that his hatred of education suddenly justifies teachers a playing the most important role in society.

Hellen Keller has nothing to do with this debate. The doctors and psychologists who analyzed her and came up with ways to help her cope with being blind and deaf clearly the played more important roles in her life.

As for the Hitler quote, I find it most amusing that a man who killed about 6 million Jews, over three million Soviet prisoners of war, two million Soviet civilians, one million Polish civilians, one million Yugoslav civilians. 70,000 men, women and children with mental and physical handicaps and 200,000 gypsies along with an unknown numbers of political prisoners, resistance fighters, homosexuals and deportees is being considered as a valid source of opinion on matters of prioritization. (

Soviet Russia collapsed in on itself. So much for that. []

I find it immeasurably amusing when Pro chooses to say how the fact that teaching can lead people to shape society justifies teaching as being the most important role in society. You see, if this is the justification for teaching being the most important role in society, then it indicates that the political figures who shape society are more important.

It's circular logic to use politicians to justify teachers' important and teachers to justify politicians' importance.
Debate Round No. 2


Unfortunately, I must not have made my point with clarity. I am not saying that teachers are important because world leaders say they are. I am saying that teachers have the widest sphere of influence over society and therefore the most important. Important means "of considerable influence or authority, as a person or position" (

As for the doctors and nurses saving the teacher, this is a slippery slope argument. Just because a doctor saved a teacher who taught an important student who influenced society does not mean that doctor directly influenced the student. The student may not even know he existed. This argument is unfortunately invalid.

Interestingly, though even if the argument was valid, it would still not work in Con's favor. In order to be a doctor you need to go to medical school. Medical schools generally have teachers to teach the students. So the only way the doctor and nurse could save a teacher is if a teacher first taught them how.

Con claims the resolution is impossible to uphold. He says, "Teaching is not a role in society, it is a duty played by the role of a 'teacher'." My question to him is, what is a role in society? Is it not a part, a function, that aids the entire machine?
Merriam Webster defines "role" as "proper or customary function: the teacher's role in society." (
But in addition, what does the above sentence mean? I request further clarification to uphold this point.

By using Henry Adams as a source does not indicate Historians play a role more important in society than teachers. It means that this particular historian was making an observation about teachers. The quote about teachers affecting eternity was actually in his book; "The Education of Henry Adams." (Bartlett's Familiar Quotations; copyright
2002) Henry may have even been talking about his own teachers in the context of this book.
If I make an observation about politics does not mean that I consider my job more important than politics. I am simply making an observation. The same principle applies here. Mr. Adam's occupation has no bearing on this quote whatsoever.

I do not see why the quotes by Henry Adams discredit the quote I cited. "Friends are born, not made," is true in the sense that the characteristics of a good friend cannot be falsely generated. It must be part of the person himself. Con is also taking the word "make" in the wrong sense. Mr. Adams is not talking about "making a friend" as we usually refer to it, but in the sense of making or creating a good friend. But this quote actually has nothing to do with the subject at hand.
The second quote: "Nothing in education is so astonishing as the amount of ignorance it accumulates in the form of inert facts." This has more bearing on the subject, but it is not entirely on topic either. This does not indicate either support or discredit of teachers. If it has anything to do with teachers at all, it is only discrediting bad teachers, not all teachers. The first quote about eternal influence might be referring to good teachers. These quotes are not in conflict. Also, these quotes are too few and too vague to "prove" any intent. We do not know the context of either quote to know the author's intent. If a person found a human tooth and nothing else, he or she does not have enough information to draw what the person looked like. Con unfortunately has taken two quotes out of context and not even in conjunction with my quote, and tried to prove intent. We need a lot more evidence before we can say that anything has been actually proven.

Unfortunately Con also misunderstood my C.S. Lewis point. I was not justifying a teacher's role, I was demonstrating it with examples of how they have affected the world with their teaching; good and bad. You will also notice I talked about Mr. Kirkpatrick in addition to the bad teacher.
As to Helen Keller, the same concept is present. I do not know how much Con has studied Helen Keller, but if you read her biographies you will learn that the doctors and psychologists gave up on helping her, but Annie Sullivan did not. Alexander Graham Bell wanted to help the little girl, but he could not. (The Story of Helen Keller by Lorena A. Hickok. Copyright 1960) But Annie never gave up. She did what she had to do to unlock Helen's "closet." Helen would have never been able to do what she did if Annie had not spelled W-A-T-E-R into her hand.

I find it interesting that my opponent did not respond to the example of Socrates who taught Plato who taught Aristotle. Therefore I can only assume that he agrees with me that Plato highly influenced western thought and society ( and would not have been able to do so if Socrates had not first given him the tools.

I am glad I am so amusing to Con, a little humor is always helpful. But I again must not have been clear with my point about Adolf Hitler and the Soviets. Hitler was a terrible person, but he was not stupid. I used him to say that teachers are so important that men bent on world power have stooped to ensure that the only teachers are those in support of them. Hitler wanted to control society, and one of the ways he tried to do that was control the schools. True, the Soviets collapsed, but the cause was rebellions according to Con's own source, not schools. (

I am not condoning Hitler's actions at all. He did unspeakable grievances against God and man. He was using all of his strategic knowledge to try to take over Europe and then the world. As a strategist, he did very well and deceived thousands at least. And, as a strategist, he made an apt observation: our children are the key to the future. Therefore, he perverted the process to his own gain.

Teachers give tools to the students to shape society. The politicians Con mentioned would not have the capability to write speeches if they did not know how to write. They could not speak well and smoothly without first learning how to talk.

One of these days, the generation currently in charge of our world will begin to fade away. Then, a new generation, their children, will step up to the plate to lead our culture forward. These children will be different from their parents. They will have different beliefs and customs. They have all been shaped by their parents and teachers so that they can in turn shape the world. Most students (and most people in fact) have no idea how much their teachers have done for them. Teachers have a profound effect on society. I know mine have had a great effect on me. If you think about it, everyone has been taught by someone else, and even the self-taught had to be taught how to learn. We owe our teachers. They may not have armies or noticeable power, but they are the most powerful men and women on the planet, for they hold the future in their hands. How well or poorly they teach will either make a great student, or break him or her. They will never know how far their influence may reach, but like Socrates, their influence may last thousands of years. That is why teaching is the most important role in society.


baus forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 3
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Vote Placed by Mikal 2 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: ff due to con being banned. Granted both of the arguments were almost impossible to read structurally. Formatting is your best friend.
Vote Placed by Ragnar 2 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: Baus got himself banned from this site, conduct in his opponent's favor.