Denzel Washington hopes his new movie THE GREAT DEBATERS helps revive the art of heated discussion in schools - because television and computer games have largely killed the once revered competition. In the film, which Washington also directed, the Oscar winner plays a Texas professor who takes his African-American students to debate the great minds at Harvard in the 1930s. Based on a true story, he hopes the film encourages modern teachers and professors to create debating classes. Washington says, "We're not developing that muscle that imagines as we used to. We went from spoken word to radio to television to film to computer. "My kids write like chicken scratch because they don't have to write anymore. Debate is not the sport that it was... It seemed to make a turn around post World War II. "I think, with the advent of television, it just wasn't as popular anymore. I don't know that it ever will be like it was, but I think the spoken word still is popular." And Washington thinks rap and hip-hop is the modern world's debating: "It's no coincidence that one of the dominant themes contributing to our culture now is hip-hop or rap, which is getting right back to poetry whether you like what they're saying sometimes or not. There's good poetry out there and bad poetry."