Arguments Are Key To Education, Health and Happiness

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED ON URBAN TIMES – JUN 2013

The Purpose of Argument ( Flickr / ImNotQuiteJack )

How many times have you told someone you hate them? This is an optimistic website so hopefully you haven’t overused the H word too many times dear reader. It’s a strong word and as is the way with strong words, they’re usually said in the heat of a moment so remember never to use these words in an argument. Passion drives emotions. You can’t hate something you’re apathetic to, and similarly you can’t always maintain your cool around those you have strong bonds to. You might have the best relationship ever with your friends and family but all that means is when you do get upset, sparks are going to fly! Life’s a bitch right? Wrong. Break ups, arguments and frustration can actually provide us with a whole new life experience and an opportunity to explore ourselves more intimately.

Earlier this year a study into key practices for learning science was released by the National Research Council. It showed that arguments actually improve the ability to learn and understand science, mirroring scientists who use evidence to fight for their theory to be recognised amongst their peers. It’s not a new theory as Greek and Roman cultures founded their political strategies on the basis of arguing ideas and debating ethics to achieve the optimum outcome. I believe that we shouldn’t just use the art of debating in Science but across all of education. It’s the only true way to embed learning as a lifelong practice rather than solely for exams as it forces student and teacher alike to evaluate every aspect of what is being taught and link it to other attributes in life.

My passion is music and I can tell you now that my musical taste would have remained back in 1994 if it wasn’t for arguments. Debating music and being open to other people’s interpretations or obsessions allows you to experience more than just your own initial response to the world. I remember when I first heard The Arcade Fire’s debut album,Funeral, I was nonplussed and felt it was an indie-by-numbers collection of songs that I didn’t have time for thank you very much. An evening in, a few glasses of wine later with my partner and I debating music, lyrics and the slew of ‘The’ bands in the early 2000′s and I was urged to give it another try. I am now eagerly awaiting their next release after being turned onto their unique, euphoric and engaging music all thanks to the act of arguing about music.

Arguing is a great way to increase positivity and to increase awareness of global issues and difficult obstacles in the path of humanity. Something as delicate as population growth can only be dealt with if we use our minds as weapons in the battle to tackle the issues ahead of us. Bigotry can only be exposed if both sides are able to listen to valid points from the other and through argument highlight the ludicrous nature of facism or prejudices. As Michael Gilbert, a Professor at York University, once wrote;

“Unlike arming people with guns or bombs, no one will die from being armed with the techniques of argument. Instead, real communication will be increased through greater awareness of the complexities and subtleties of argument.”

Michael Gilbert

Arguing is also good for your health. Not only does a little bit of rage enhance your ability to make decisions as shown in this study but it can also increase your lifespan and make you more optimistic. Obviously there are serious connotations like heart disease and high blood pressure to being angry constantly and allowing rage to overpower you. I’m not advocating a society of Basil Fawltys running around screaming at everyone and arrogantly believing only they know best whilst increasing their chance of heart attack tenfold. I’m merely pointing out the need for a society where we don’t shy away from healthy debate in our politics, our communities and our friends and families. Think how much can be done through arguing and how much more optimistic and future driven we can be if we share our opinions and gratefully receive the opinions of others in return. Who know, we might all be running hotels in Torquay and heckling like we’re in the House of Commons but I like to think we’re better than that. But what do I know? Argue with me or agree with me in the comments below otherwise I’ll just be left here arguing with myself over which Bonobo album is the best!

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