Debating is one of the classical forms of rhetoric and has been used as such in the public arena for centuries. One could even say that it is one of the pillars of democratic societies. The classics rightly warned about its dangers, which were epitomized by the Sophists, jugglers of logic who mastered debating not as a form to defend truth or virtue, but to manipulate and for self or group interest. Nevertheless, and despite those pitfalls, being able to debate effectively can also be a weapon to defend right and what one honestly perceives to be true.
Much as what happens with public speaking, debating has remained alive in USA more than in Europe: schools and colleges have debating teams which train students in the rhetoric formalities and methods of the genre and can even become scintillating performances.
We will use the format of debating to practice argumentation in an oral form, as we will do in writing with the argumentative essay.
As a tip, this is movie called The Great Debaters, which deals precisely with debating teams in USA, in this case in the context of the fight against racial segregation in the forties. I cannot say it is a good movie (it is sentimental and with many cliches and cinema tricks; also, Denzel Washington makes such an effort to appear intense and charismatic that to me he becomes almost unbearable) but it is worth having a look, as it offers an insight into the interesting world of debating, an educational experience in itself.