request for discussion
The Eternal Flame
Mon Feb 14 00:15:32 CST 2000
Ok, I was reading this and struck by the whole "getting money foran
assistant" solution and how logical it was seeming to me as I read this
email. The thing that I was struck by is this: we don't have a coach here
at Chicago. Realistically, the University of Chicago will never let us
have one. For the first two years of this program, I whined daily about
that. The thing is, now I wouldn't have it any other way. My debaters,
and hell, myself, would probably do a lot less dumb things if we had a
coach. I mean, let's face it, the money argument was dumb, and all my
novice debaters have mortally embarrassed themselves in one way or
another. But the thing is that's what makes us a team. We run ourselves,
we motivate ourselves, and we're out for the whole team's good all the
time. No, we probably won't ever cut enough cards to be competitive at
the varsity level. But the more little tournaments my kids kick ass at,
and the more practices that really feel like families, and the more
18-year-olds I see take responsibility for the funding, organization, and
practicing of t he team, the more I think that just maybe, debate should
be more like us instead of us being more like debate. My kids have
amazing practice debates on issues they didn't come near understanding six
months ago; and they've taught each other. In addition to teaching each
other about politicval issues, they've help each other's language skills.
A full third of my 20person squad does not speak english as their first
language. Yet some of these kids have brought home speaker awards. Their
progress is amazing, and I think it has a lot to do with the squad being
student run and student dependent.
I'm not saying "dump your coaches and your ev and come join my team," but
I am saying that debate the way we do it won't win varsity rounds, but
will sustain a team on no resources and no coach. I'd take their spirit
and growth over a positive win-loss ratio anyday. It so turns out that
Chicago Debate has damn near a positive win-loss recorf this year too.
(who felt oddly inspired, and is done now
On Sun, 13 Feb 2000, Jim Hanson wrote:
> i'll add a few comments on this discussion:
> 1. lack of coaches who are willing to invest the time in policy debate. they
> like parli better, they dislike the time commitment required for policy
> debate, they dislike the style of policy debate--whatever the reasons,
> coaches take over programs and don't emphasize policy debate: result, it
> ends at the school.
> 2. research base required to be competitive in policy debate. for a small
> squad, especially one with no assistant who can work a lot on debate, its a
> big, uphill battle to get enough research done to be really competitive.
> lexis is great but it has added to the necessity to be ready for just about
> that said, i am deeply concerned about policy debate in the rockies and,
> from what i've read on edebate, the arkansas area.
> i don't have solutions; they need to come from each individual school; they
> might include getting money for an assistant; it might mean a coach taking
> on a more inclusive approach to get more kids involved; it could include
> schools in the region making a commitment to go to certain tournaments so
> they make; it involves effort and, unfortunately for those fighting it out,
> it depends on what other programs in your area do; so you are reliant on
> what happens at other schools.
> i will say that while the northwest is hanging on with basically 9 schools
> competing (one of which is really far away and is closer to rockies
> competition), we have been actually getting a bit bigger over the past two
> years. that is due to the students and the coaches in the northwest at
> programs that still have policy debate (by the way, that's meant as no
> slight on others who are fighting to survive--just a kudos to the great work
> that people in the northwest have been doing).
> i do think resource disparities hurt--with no assistant money, its tough. i
> also think areas that have weak hs debate make things difficult now versus
> the times you mentioned terry because the ante has been raised so much since
> ceda in the 80s. its hard to recruit debaters from programs that no longer
> exist and its difficult to get novices going, when, for example in the
> northwest, we haven't had novice division for years (although about 2 to 6
> novices compete each year--in junior division).
> jim :)
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Team Topic Debating in America [mailto:EDEBATE at LIST.UVM.EDU]On
> Behalf Of Terry West
> Sent: Sunday, February 13, 2000 5:41 PM
> To: EDEBATE at LIST.UVM.EDU
> Subject: request for discussion
> What is causing the decline in policy debate? Whether you want to engage it
> on the list serve or not, I hope all of us will be thinking about answers to
> this question as we prepare for another CEDA nationals and another general
> business meeting. I will suggest a couple of things which I think are
> contributing factors (not necessarily sole causes). I will also suggest
> some things I think are clearly NOT behind the decline.
> Some factors contributing to the decline of policy debate:
> 1--Less and less judges committed as lifetime educators to the values of
> instruction in argumentation theory and practice. Debate
> has become the ultimate postmodern game, and like most deconstruction,
> serves the purpose of those fashionable at the time.
> Long-term benefits are few, and conventions come and go at a whim.
> Ex-coaches leave the profession, or become
> administrators who, within a few years, no longer recognize the activity.
> Too many of our alumni who are in positions of influence
> see the activity and fail to recognize it. Some even despise it. We
> have lost our pedagogy; many declare we need none in our
> "educational" activity. Am I overstating the case? Then why do we have
> national committees gathered to devise strategies
> to "spin" the media as to what we "really" are doing?
> 2--National circuit mania. Regional circuits, tournaments, and programs
> continue to die as a league of "national circuit"
> tournaments becomes the sine qua non for recognition. Decisions are
> made in favor of the top, and never made to help the
> bottom. Some national programs support regional tournaments
> consistently; many never do so. Still, there are not enough.
> Regional programs become discouraged, and drop entirely or move to
> other debate events.
> 3--The popularity of parli. Like it or not; NPDA was smarter than us. They
> realized that most students were not going to continue
> screwing up their lives and/or education to spend 50 hours a week
> trying to keep up with the national circuit on policy debate.
> While they devised a format that allowed students to remain sane (and
> even do other things, like individual events), we keep
> inflicting these huge topic on ourselves. We need to find the medium;
> debate has always been a lot of hard work. That is a
> good thing. But it is not a wellness activity at present.
> 4--"Mutual" "preference" judging: didn't think I could make a post like
> this and leave that out, did you? All I really need to say is:
> "affirmative action pool." If mpj is really the best alternative, we
> shouldn't need one. Or does it really entrench those in power?
> Some things that are NOT causes of the membership decline:
> 1--Resource disparities. I swear, I've read some posts from some people who
> apparently believe that several years ago, all the
> programs were even. Resource disparities were just as significant in
> the '70's, when NDT was the only national game in town.
> They were significant in the '80's, when CEDA had conquered the world
> and was still GAINING members.
> 2--Bad high school debate. I cannot conceive of anything worse than
> Missouri high school debate in the early 70's. Even through
> the 80's, Missouri debaters (for the most part) had to start all over
> when they hit college. Yet my alma mater, SMSU, managed
> to excel, as has since, largely based on Missouri high school graduates.
> I suspect this is true rather universally. Even if I'm
> wrong, several other posters to this list have noted the group of
> schools that make successful debaters out of rookies with NO
> high school experience. It's hard, but it can be done.
> 3--Lazy students. Students today work harder on debate than they have ever
> worked on it. The fact that more are leaving the
> activity now than then should say something to us.
> 4--The topic merger. CEDA had evolved into pseudo-policy debate as early as
> the mid-80's. It was continuing to grow. It was
> healthier in its last year of two-topic debate (the last of which was a
> pure policy res) than it is now. Maybe it was the two-topic
> decision, and the earlier release date, that killed us. But the topic
> merger itself would not seem to be the reason.
> 5--NDT. NDT is not evil. It did not "kill" CEDA. CEDA's potential death
> is the result of repeated suicide attempts. The CEDA
> organization needs to deal with its own problems. CEDA needs to decide
> what it believes. CEDA needs to develop
> mechanisms that will allow it to put those principles into effect.
> Absent such action, we are doomed.
> Some thoughts, truly intended for constructive engagement.
> Terry West
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