The Importance of Intellectual Debates for Students

December 5, 2020 by Essay Writer


It is a sad reflection that people believe in the printed word as truth, Postgraduate students litter their essays or literature reviews with the authority of some experts in the field, but often lack the emotional and cognitive capacity to critique those ideas with their own. Students need to treasure the novelty of their own ideas and have the courage to put out those ideas in public.

This problem needs to be addressed in schools and theories that can be used to adjust the mentality of students it is critical theory which is a theory that seeks to generate liberation the mind and the way knowledge is consumed provide alternative and progressive ways of looking at the world (Freire. 2000), and systems theory of Urie Bronfenbrenner’s which informs our conceptualization of personalized learning by identifying important attribute in students, key social relationships, and primary social contexts that influence their social, emotional, and physical well-being which is that everything to roll needs to be a system(Taylor. 2016). Thus this essay discusses the use of educational theory of critical and system to educate future generations towards ethically justifiable dialogic participation in authentic, honest public academic debates.

Critical Theory

Critical theory has a fundamental theory developed by Paulo Freire which is pedagogy of the oppressed which states that education is like a banking system were by teaching is like a transition were the teacher deposit knowledge to learners and the learner takes up a role of an empty container that must be filled. Dialogic education is where by a student is a thinking agent. Darder (2003) states Critical pedagogy is fundamentally committed to the development and involvement of a culture of schooling that supports the empowerment of culturally marginalized and economically disenfranchised students. By doing so this pedagogical perspective seeks to help transform those classroom structure and practices that perpetuate undemocratic life.

Critical theory and pedagogy are a logical pairing when one considers how schools historically, and currently, function to maintain social and political realities that support the oppression of certain groups of people (Dell’Angelo. 2012). The current system of education can be said to be adopting the banking system as teaching and learning is dominated by teacher centred method. It does not allow much students to be flexible and bring forward their ideas as it promotes memorization. For example learners of different skills and abilities are expected to learn something and must memorize them and are all judged base by that ability, which brings the famous quote of Albert Einstein ”Everybody is a Genius. But If You Judge a Fish by Its Ability to Climb a Tree, It Will Live Its Whole Life Believing that It is Stupid ”.

Therefore to educate learners to engage in intellectual debates there needs to be a focus in dialogical education were students are thinking agents. Blooms taxonomy of setting questions comes to mind, higher order question such as apply, analyse, evaluate and create needs to take centre stage from early in childhood education in order to instill the habit of thinking from learners and move away from remembering, explaining etc. Students need to research more in order to acquire an understanding of a subject to start. To improve the knowledge then students need to engage in debates with reference to literature and critic literature with relevant applicable examples.

System Theory

System theory also has a fundamental theory which is Bronfenbrenner’s ecological system which states that a person’s development was affected by everything in their surrounding environment. It is divides the person’s environment into five different levels: the microsystem, the mesosystem, the exosystem, the macrosystem, and the chronosystem (roundy. 2018). During the apartheid era in South Africa, learners were not only educated separately according to race, but a separate special education system existed for learners with disabilities or impairments. This segregation created a fragmented education system (Geldenhuys, 2013 ). Such a past affected learners as when education became inclusive the learners were used to believe the printed words. In order to educate learners to engage in intellectual debate Bronfenbrenner’s eco-systemic framework can be adopted.

The system approach start with an individual, the fundamentals are the strength and weakness. The student need to be well vested in what they can do and cannot do in order to understand how they will learn. Personality is another important thing as the student need to know what their likes are and dislikes are, their interest so as to choose subjects wisely in school.

The microsystem which represents an individual’s immediate context, is characterized by direct, interactional processes as familial relationships and close friendships (Leornard, 2010). Therefore to learn and grow each relationship should contribute to the well being of the learner. Family need to support financially and emotional. Friends need to support the interests of the learner and be able to grow the students ability by challenging the student. Class mates provide an performance challenge to the learner. Church provide spiritual guidance. Much of the contact at this level is face-to-face, but often limited to dyadic relations. Increases in the size of the micro-system should lead to enhancements in the child’s development (Guckin. 2008). Balancing these relationships is of out most importance.

The mesosystem comprises the interrelations between two or more settings in which the developing person actively participates. In terms of learners, this refers to relations between settings such as the home, school, neighbourhood and peer group (Leornard, 1979:25). The mesosystem can therefore be described as a set of microsystems that continually interact with one another (Leornard, 2010).

The exosystem refers to one or more settings that do not involve the learner as an active participant, but in which events that occur affect the learner (Leornard, 2010). Mass media particularly social media dominates the communication space and the student need to be able to engage in social network in a responsible manner and remain updated about what is happening in the world.

The macrosystem consists of the larger cultural world surrounding learners together with any underlying belief systems and includes aspects such as government policies, political ideology, cultural customs and beliefs, historical events and the economic system (Leornard, 2010). Macrosystem is another component the student does not control which heavily affect him as it includes the local politics, attitudes and culture of the place the student is living in.


Both critical theory and system theory can work together to aid the student to be able to engage in debates. System approach allows the student to be aware of themselves and the people that play a role in his life and the environment he lives in and be so that he can be practical in his take on debates and not be too idealistic about matter and can apply his reasons in practice. Critical theory enlighten the student about the concept of banking in education so as to allow one not be an empty shell to just consume knowledge. It enlighten the student about the dialogical education which is the approach that must be used. By using systemic approach you understand yourself and the world around you and critical theory u acquire knowledge that enables you to carry meaning intellectual debates and defend your ideas with ease and confidence.


Having intellectual debates without being emotional is very important and must be developed in the students. From the discuss it was made clear that the two educational theories that can be used to encourage students are critical theory and systems theory. From critical theory, we must move away from banking system to a dialogic education. From systems theory we must enlighten the learner about the components he can control so that he can learn better.


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