Tired Travellers 

Stoned at Namaste Rock Café

You live your life, you go in shadows
You’ll come apart and you’ll go black
Some kind of light into your darkness
Colors your eyes with what’s not there

What needs to change in debate? HS debate strategies.

factions are beginning to form in the debate community and i mean this with all seriousness. 

there are important issues that plague high school debate and the upcoming pushback by high school judges, coaches, administrators, parents and bystanders has been building for a very long time.

what is the pushback against? i won’t immediately say spreading, because while spreading is a part of it, it isn’t the biggest part. i respect spreading a lot. i think it’s pretty important to developing the ability to work at a very quick pace.

the issue is, however, the co-opting of high school debate by college debate.

and it is here, in the attempted emulation of strategy and spreading, that high school debate has lost its way. 

at some point the activity became an extreme specialisation and the comments of coaches, bystanders and judges mattered less and less against the perception of “camp glory.” it’s all camp this, camp that, camp files this, camp files that.

i won’t lie, open evidence is great. but the extent to which it provides for a normalised argument all year long is awful.

is anyone over 20 convinced that running u.s. should take more of another country’s oil is a good plan?

well, let me tell you that you’re facing a heavy opinion trend from people who take oil more serious than high school debaters. why would you pick this for students to run as a competitive argument in front of adult judges. where is the rational basis for a plan?

this resolution WAS SUPPOSED TO BE ABOUT POSTCOLONIALISM and learning about how some actions taken in u.s. history were morally wrong.

instead, this year we’re letting camps cut oil affirmatives for all the countries. but the issue is that we misunderstand the value of what we teach students at camps. the attitude of a camp seems to be that the integrity of the education is irrelevant to the amount of production and work students put in. this simply isn’t true and here the camps are simply irresponsible.

what does it matter when students’ debate cards aren’t true? well, they start to believe silly things are true, like the u.s. is a leading stopper of oil spills. when in reality, u.s. production has about as many if not more spills than the rest of the world combined. we should care about this, too. these students are the cream of the crop and they’re going to be a very big part of the future. they should be instructed to make better arguments than the u.s. should extract more oil.

i’m unconvinced by oil plans. and if you say that it’s because the u.s. extracts other countries resources already, please tell me if that’s a better argument to make.

i’m going to be introducing deontological topicality violations with my students this year. watch out, because oil will be my number one target. 

last year, at the varsity state finals, i laid it out before a round in my paradigms. “i’ve seen too many debates of students arguing past each other. too many debaters saying this card is against this card. too many debaters saying ours is newer, so prefer. i am thirsty for an actual analysis of the authors, their credentials to be saying what they’re saying and maybe even some assurance that the card isn’t mistagged.”

the other two judges immediately prompted the round that if either team pulled of what i had asked for their would likely win the round. they did.

it isn’t even that hard to pay attention to what i’m saying. we’re not against policy debate. we all love policy debate.

we do, however, want it to be more accessible.

when an unfamiliar administrator with the power to sign away the debate budget walks into the room and is immediately turned off by what she sees, that is a problem. the debate community is, however, mature enough to deal with this. please, debaters, realize that you are currently contributing to the demise of your beloved activity. 

debate is changing. the only policy debate expansion that’s happening is in the UDL movement. and why is that, though?

EDUCATION. the massive power and potential of the UDL movement is that it realizes high school debate for its potential impact on education. there is a focus on card-cutting clarity, factual evidence, oratory and rhetoric.

the meta debate is quickly becoming the most important one. most judges will still vote for you if you speak slower. most judges will vote for you if you slow down to explain why you’re running each card. most judges will vote for a kritik, if instead of simply reading cards and lining them up on the flow, you actually explain the substance of the kritik to the judge.

this is one of the biggest flaws that gets transferred over from college to high school debate. in college you run the full force of the kritik. you expect that everyone in the round has at least some sort of familiarity with the argument and can hit it absolutely head on. in high school it’s different. most of the time your judge will not have any sort of familiarity with the kritik that you’re running and instead you’re teaching them the kritik. the difference is immense. 

if the judge feels like you opened their eyes or taught them something with the kritik, how do you feel about your chances of winning that round?

a little ranty this morning, but i’m getting excited about the season and i wanted everyone to know that this year is going to be a very interesting one. plus if any high school debaters are willing to listen to me, hey that’s cool too.