Of all the resources we publish on The Learning Network, perhaps it’s our vast collection of writing prompts that is our most widely used resource for teaching and learning with The Times.
This list of 401 prompts (available here in PDF) is now our third iteration of what originally started as 200 prompts for argumentative writing, and it’s intended as a companion resource to help teachers and students participate in our annual Student Editorial Contest. (In 2017, the dates for entering are March 2 to April 4.)
So scroll through the hundreds of prompts below that touch on every aspect of contemporary life — from social media to sports, politics, gender issues and school — and see which ones most inspire you to take a stand. Each question comes from our daily Student Opinion feature, and each provides links to free Times resources for finding more information. And for even more in-depth student discussions on pressing issues like immigration, guns, climate change and race, please visit our fall 2016 Civil Conversation Challenge.
What’s your favorite question on this list? What questions should we ask, but haven’t yet? Tell us in the comments.
And visit our related list as well: 650 Prompts for Narrative and Personal Writing.
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Fire up your debate engines! We’ve got 60 persuasive essay and speech topics that will give students an opportunity to craft persuasive essays and/or arguments for oral debate. Our persuasive essay and speech topics are designed to spark critical thinking and can be modified for students in elementary, middle and high school. They are grouped by topic for easy student and teacher reference. Feel free to print the entire list for plenty of inspiration for your next persuasive or argumentative essay assignment!
Society and Culture Essay and Speech Topics
- Have humans become too dependent on technology?
- Who contributes more to modern society: teachers or doctors?
- Should gaming and casinos be legalized in all states?
- Is the use of pesticides in farming worth the health risks?
- Is the idea of the “American Dream” still attainable in today’s society?
- Should parents be held accountable/responsible for what their children post on social media websites?
- Should corporations be required to engage in responsible citizenship, including environmental accountability?
- Is the Electoral College system still effective?
- Are zoos important and necessary sources of conservation and research or outdated displays of exotic animals?
- What means of producing electricity has the least harmful impact on the environment?
- Should the government be required to provide health insurance to all its citizens?
- Should the drinking age be lowered?
- Should guaranteeing medical care to all citizens be a responsibility of the government?
- Does the general population have the right to access information about the private lives of politicians?
- Should there be mandatory water rationing during drought conditions?
- Should there be a reinstatement of the military draft?
- Who was the most effective American president?
- Who is the most effective current political leader outside of America?
- Should there be body scanners at airports to detect weapons?
- Is it more effective to volunteer your time or to donate your money to a cause you support?
- Should corporations be allowed to collect an individual’s personal data from social media sources without their consent?
- Are current methods of discouraging cyberbullying and harassment effective?
- Should the government have access to tracking information through our mobile devices?
- Who should bear the responsibility for making change in a society: individual citizens or elected officials?
Schools and Education Essay and Speech Topics
- Are private school vouchers helping our society to provide a quality education for all?
- What is more effective: coed education or single-gender schools?
- Do colleges put too much stock in standardized test scores?
- Should students be required to recite the Pledge of Allegiance each morning at school?
- What role should current events play in a child’s school curriculum?
- What is the impact of school uniforms?
- Does extended recess time have a positive impact on student health and learning?
- Should sign language be taught to all students as a second language?
- Should high schools have a later start time?
- Should schools ban the use of cell phones by students during school hours?
- What is the impact of assigning nightly homework to students?
- During which grade should students begin to receive homework assignments?
- What is the role social media should have in the school environment?
- What is more effective, a year-round school calendar or a traditional nine-month calendar?
- Should school officials be allowed to search students’ lockers and personal possessions?
- Should students be grouped by age or by ability in school classrooms?
- What is the most important subject taught in school?
- Are there any academic benefits to the study of video games?
- Are current methods of school discipline effective?
- Should higher education be free for all admitted students?
- Are standardized tests an accurate measure of student learning or ability?
- What are the most effective ways to curb school bullying?
- Is a college degree a requirement for success in life?
Personal Choices and Personal Values Essay and Speech Topics
- Which makes a better pet, a dog or a cat?
- Have reality television shows changed people’s television viewing habits?
- What is the best book you have ever read, and why was it so good?
- Is it better to give or to receive?
- Is it still important to teach manners and etiquette to children?
- When should children be permitted to have their own cell phones?
- If you won the lottery and could only donate the money to charity, which cause would you choose and why?
- Which lifestyle is more conducive to a happy life, urban living or country living?
- Should children be limited to the number of hours they are allowed to play video games every week?
- If you could time travel, would it be better to visit the past or the future?
- Is it better to be a night owl or an early bird?
- Do opposites really attract?
- What is more important: earning a large salary or doing work that benefits other people?
Looking for more essay topics?
Compare and Contrast Essay Topics
Descriptive Essay Topics
Cause and Effect Essay Topics
Narrative Essay Topics