Critical debate: The graduation requirement we should have
What a space technology debate taught me about balance
Writer’s note: This post was originally published on Medium’s “We Need to Talk” on October 30, 2021.
Science has always been boring as hell to me. I took biology and chemistry in high school with a physics teacher who would drone on like the “Peanuts” teacher. I was Peppermint Patty every single day and dreaded his class on a daily basis. Even in elementary school, with a science teacher who I thought was a fun person to talk to outside of science, I was not impressed when I found out the frog I dissected was pregnant. Scraping out tadpoles soured me on the science project, and I scowled every time I smelled formaldehyde. And as much as I enjoyed “Hidden Figures,” I still wasn’t into space travel. There are just some topics that will never woo me.
But when a client hired me to write a two-part speech debating “a topic,” I happily took the offer. Why would I not? Debating is something I thoroughly enjoy doing. (My mother and former Girl Scout leader still scratch their heads about me not going to law school.) Then I heard the topic matter: It was regarding the pros and cons of China and the United States traveling to space. Who cares?
Still, a back-and-forth debate on the topic intrigued me. I’d already had my mind set on not going to space and what a painfully boring waste of time it would be. I flew through the cons, discussing national budgetary expenses, the effects of global warming from satellite launches, space travelers dying (ex. Christa McAuliffe) and U.S. surveillance paranoia. By the time I was done, I was content with the speech I’d written. That is, until I remembered I had to have this same sort of urgency and strong opinions in favor of space tech. I came up blank.