English through History- Debate Topics


Discussion and debate topics based on world history, including discussion hypothetical situation

By: Alex Case
Level: Advanced
Topic: General
Grammar Topic: General

English through history debate topics

Choose a question below, then flip a coin to decide if you can ask it to someone else (heads) or have to answer yourself (tails = tell). Discuss it if you like, then take turns doing the same for other questions below.


Choose a topic from below, use a coin to decide who takes which side and debate it.

  • Imagine Neanderthals have just been discovered living somewhere. Have a parliamentary debate on whether they should be given the same rights as homo sapiens (= us). If not, what rights should they have? If you decide that they should, have another debate on whether apes and/ or monkeys should have increased rights too.
  • Was the appeasement of Hitler a mistake, or did it give the Allies time to prepare for WWII?
  • Should denying the Holocaust or other genocide like the massacre of Armenians in Turkey be a crime?
  • Should the main aim of history lessons be the teaching of national pride?
  • Should central government be allowed to approve history textbooks or curricula?
  • Should former colonial powers have to pay compensation to their former colonies?
  • Should historical artefacts be returned to their original countries, even if it is hundreds of years later?
  • Should aboriginal people have special rights to the land of a country, even if the other people have been there for hundreds of years?
  • On reflection, was colonisation mainly a good or bad thing?
  • Should school history lessons concentrate on world history or the history of your country?
  • Should history be taught, or should students just be shown how to research periods and topics that they are interested in?
  • Is it the business of foreign countries, e.g. ex-colonies, how they are represented in the textbooks of other countries?
  • Should it be possible to sue governments for historical crimes of different governments in the same country?
  • Should the crimes of previous governments (e.g. military regimes) be punished, forgiven, or forgotten?
  • Can you find any examples of a justified attack on another country in history?
  • If a part of the history of your country could make you ashamed of your ancestors, should it be avoided in school history lessons?
  • Are historical dramas, novels and films a good way of teaching history, despite their inaccuracies?
  • Is history an important subject in schools, or should it be relegated to a lesser role while more practical subjects like business studies are promoted more?
  • If _______________________ hadn’t happened, would it have been a good or bad thing?
  • Was ____________________________ inevitable, or could it have been stopped?

Ask about any questions which you couldn’t understand, avoided, are not sure that you answered correctly, etc, discussing them as a class each time.

Make up similar questions about history for each other.

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