At national tournaments, judges are making their stances clear: students who argue ‘capitalism can reduce…
At national tournaments, judges are making their stances clear: students who argue ‘capitalism can reduce poverty’ or ‘Israel has a right to defend itself’ will lose—no questions asked.
My four years on a high school debate team in Broward County, Florida, taught me to challenge ideas, question assumptions, and think outside the box. It also helped me overcome a terrible childhood stutter. And I wasn’t half-bad: I placed ninth my first time at the National Speech & Debate Association (NSDA) nationals, sixth at the Harvard national, and was runner-up at the Emory national.
After college, between 2017 and 2019, I coached a debate team at an underprivileged high school in Miami. There, I witnessed the pillars of high school debate start to crumble. Since then, the decline has continued, from a competition that rewards evidence and reasoning to one that punishes students for what they say and how they say it.
First, some background. Imagine a high school sophomore on the debate team. She’s been given her topic about a month in advance, but she won’t know who her judge is until hours before her debate round. During that time squeeze—perhaps she’ll pace the halls as I did at the 2012 national tournament in Indianapolis—she’ll scroll on her phone to look up her judge’s name on Tabroom, a public database maintained by the NSDA. That’s where judges post “paradigms,” which explain what they look for during a debate. If a judge prefers competitors not “spread”—speak a mile a minute—debaters will moderate their pace. If a judge emphasizes “impacts”—the reasons why an argument matters—debaters adjust accordingly.
Read Full Article Here…(thefp.com)
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