[eDebate] Pedagogy-- Workers/Citizens/Advocates (REvisiting the Greene/Hicks debate)

Kuswa, Kevin kkuswa
Thu Apr 20 23:15:02 CDT 2006


Hi all,
 
Lot's of issues here.  I'd like to start with M.L.'s recent line on the Ceda-L: "I see competition as a means to educate."  The link between debate and education is the center of the "worker rule," the switch-side debate, the process of writing a resolution, and hopefully much of our interactions in the activity.
 
One of the issues not directly tackled in the watershed article by Greene and Hicks is the process of judging.  Much of the discussion about education and debate, however, relates to judging--the act of judging, the placement of judging, the number of judges, the norms of judging, and the way judging helps to drive debates.  This is not a question of whether judges explain decisions as "teachers"--guides for future debates--or as "adjudicators"--deliberators communicating the details of a decision; rather, this is a question of striving for a balance between "working with" and "working for."  Working with students and coaches may or may not involve hard research, but it does imply more of a series of partnerships, a team instead of a military.  Working for a squad, on the other hand, can often overemphasize the subordinate status of a worker at the expense of better judging at the tournament.  This happens when potential judges come to the ndt and do not judge at least 4 rounds in order to do more work for the squad.
 
A few points from here:
 
1. I may have misinterpreted the worker rule as it applies to judges.  I sure feel like an idiot in that case because I try to participate and follow along in those meetings.  I just never fathomed that the committee would spend two years talking about redistricting, third teams, conferences, and a slew of other proposals and not pass a single one, only to turn around and pass a provision that attempts to restrict the research behavior of many of the participants at the tournament (judges are participants, too--that's a key point here).  
 
2. If the rule means that a school bringing 2 teams to the NDT (and thus having to cover 26 rounds of judging--up from 24 next year), will have to tell some of those judges not to do certain types of research, than I really can no longer support the rule.  D7 people have not weighed in on this issue explicitly on our list-serve (we are more consumed with how loud our banquet celebrations should be at this point), but we'll flesh things out at some point this summer.  Making the NDT the only tournament where many of the individuals involved are prevented from certain types of research is not a good idea.  Other have made arguments against the strict interpretation of the rule, but there is also a judging implication to emphasize:  
 
3. The NDT, in part, is about GOOD JUDGING.  Good judging and good debating go hand-in-hand.  Having three of the best judges possible in every preliminary round is essential to the ethos of the NDT--it propels education in many ways because teams know that at least 24 judges (most of them really "good", however that's defined) will hear and mull over their arguments in order to make a decision.  The strict worker rule could drive some good judges out of the pool because they will not want to come to the NDT and be limited in their ability to conduct research.
 
4. Why the reversal on the worker rule?  Mainly because the broad (and wrong) interpretation would not have caused the backlash we are seeing right now and it would have brought in more rounds to the judge pool.  Participants are participants.  There is a line between debater and non-debater, but coaches are judges are teachers are students.  Pedagogy emerges in many ways--often through research.  That research, though, no matter what form it takes, must still be debated and must still be judged.  That's one reason the debating both sides debate has to specify variables such as "switch-side policy" or "switch-side parli."  Why?  Because the former involves the same topic all year, is research and argument intensive, and involves depth of critical thinking, not simply spontaneity.
 
5. Joel and Pete B.--a quick question for you: how far would you go to restrict research?  Would you limit it to just the debaters?  I do agree with you and with M.L. that the current situation is not the ideal balance--some debaters have become file cabinets as opposed to scholar-advocates.  On the other hand, is a rule against more than two people doing unhindered research the right path?  Do you have specifics in response to Ed Lee's contention that research inspires a larger community than simply the debaters.  Does designating 2 gladiators as "members of the proletariat" really work toward the goal of improving the pedagogical consequences of debate?  Joel, the evidence you cut and block at summer workshops is pedagogical in multiple ways.  When does that process stop?  Are younger students not capable of doing their own research?  One learning moment I recall at UT involved the evidence you researched against leslie wexler and corey staughton's (sp?) disease affirmative.  Those blocks, written during the cap cities tournament, weaved their way through a debate where judd renken and brett griffin engaged in a big case debate and got a lot out of the experience.  And, Pete, didn't you cut the evidence on the Armenian word for "genocide" at a tournament, guiding students into and through a two hour debate on the complexities between language, identity, and translation?
 
6. Now may not be the type to risk limits on research (especially if more open research might help judging).  Oh, make sure you fill out the full ordinal data on the debateresults cite to assist judge placement in the future.  We are not even sure what "research" means--that might be exactly why we are uniquely positioned to continue to represent ourselves in the larger academy.  How so?  Because ultimately Ede is right that we need to re-connect to the academy, but that we can do so while also criticizing debate from within.  To restrict debate in order to create a forum for debate is not sustainable; thus, the connection to the academy has to be flexible, adapting, and organic.  It is important to criticize debate--even in larger academic forums; and, who else is better positioned to offer constructive criticism than the debate community itself?  We know the links between universities and debate programs have been (and are) often virtually infinite.  Not financially necessarily, but more in the sense that Universities are debate and vice-versa.  Some universities express their debate identity through a policy program, the majority do not.  This does not mean we need more articles with numbers in them (I disagree with Ede's reduction of current scholarship on debate), but we do need more articles, writing, argumentation, etc. using all forms of "research."
 
7. Some evidence.  Many of you all like McKerrow--here's an interesting passage that makes at least a few applicable claims about evidence, scholarship, and connecting to the academy: 

McKerrow writes ("Opening the Future," 2000 in Rhet. in intercultural context): 

"The politics of preservation within the academy being what they are, the mantra that 'the last great teacher was Jesus, hence you better write if you are to survive' remains firmly entrenched.  This shifts the focus from reconstituting rhetoric to the potential for also reconstituting how those who function as critics within the academy are to survive.  The power of disciplining, in Foucault's sense, has been eloquently noted.  The chilling effect that our conventional processes may have on who is allowed to speak need not be recounted here.  In countering these forces, it is important to ask, 'Where is there room for scholarship that is at the margins?'  What happens when that scholarship is routinely pummeled, reshaped into appropriate or 'proper' venues of analysis, such that is ceases to exist as 'marginal' except when rejected?  What happens when one at the margins publishes outside the field, only to learn that influence is based on what one does for the field from the inside?  These are the critical issues, that, along with reconstituting rhetoric, we need to address if critics are to engage multicultural issues in ways that will be received by the academy.  

        Reconstitution, with this in mind, thus has two vectors: One is to reconstitute it in terms that acknowledge the culturally diverse world in which we live, and the other is to reconstitute it such that divergent voices become valued.  That there already are voices calling for opening up the discipline--changing the boundaries of what constitutes acceptable research and writing--offers hope to those who represent divergent voices within the discipline.  Many of those voices represent the already tenured and thereby provide a lifeline to the future.  I remain optimistic that reconstitution in the sense articulated above will move forward; the future is too important to leave in the hands of inaction and silence." (p45)

 
8. Full circle to Greene and Hicks.  JP already posted the conclusion pages.  A few moments in the piece deserve another read here.  The distinction between Day and Muir is worth considering in terms of debate today.  For Day, switch-side debate operates through a norm of free speech that produces moral minds and souls.  This is why Jackie is so on-point with his argument that the resolution (and the topic writing process) produces ossification because its agent-lock tries to constitute a frozen margin.  It has gotten so extreme that it is no longer about affirmative flexibility (affs broke the chains years ago), but about the imposition of a "debate proposition" that is partially closed for debate--a free speech morality masking a Statecentric Free Speech norm.  When Muir defends debate, it is based on the gap between debater and temporary conviction allowing pluralism but not relativism.  Ron Greene shared an angle on this with me recently about the framing of Day's position.  Depending on the importance of the Cold War and McCarthyism, Day may be more or less guilty of inscribing free speech through debate as a "safe space for critique and advocacy" or as a "procedural apparatus designed to capture the radical tendencies of the free speech movement."  More on this insight as it is mulled over.  In the meantime, more evidence:   
 
Greene and Hicks (2005 _Cultural Studies_ v19n1, pp100-126).  p118:
 
" '...the central tendencies of switch-side debating are in line with convictions built on emphatic appreciation for alternative points of view...in a framework of equal access to ideas and equal opportunities for expression, the truth that emerges is more defensible and more justifiable' (Muir, p292).  For Muir, debate retains its epistemic value while also taking on a new role in the moral development of students.  At the same time, like Day, debating both sides performs internally on the mind and soul of the student.  In the language of moral development, Day's defense of free and full expression circulates as a universal norm to guide the interaction between interlocutors.  For Muir, Day's defense is curiously absent, but it is important to note how Muir reassigns conviction to the process of generating morally sounds judgments.  According to Muir, the game of debate is redeemed on the terrain of moral development because it gives students the distance from acting on their arguments, helping to secure the possibility of respecting pluralism without risking moral relativism."
 
A few paragraphs later, after going through the concept of "technologies of communication" as it relates to cultural studies and answering the "debate is speaking from a platform" argument by reconceiving of debate as a research-based and research-driven critical pedagogy, Greene and Hicks write:
 
"Bordieu and Frow demonstrate how a class interest finds its constitution in the ability to distance one's self from the world {can any of us really say our research does not "distance" ourselves in some way?}; a class interest that authorizes a class' judgment as worthy of recognition and authority.  From this perspective, debating both sides is part of the history of educational efforts to provide a specific class with the cultural legitimacy necessary to valorize their judgments about the world.  The link between moral development and the game of debate to train students into their class roles as expert judges makes room for the re-assignment of debating both sides to the globalization of liberalism as deliberative democracy."
 
Re-assigning "debating both sides to the globalization of liberalism" may be enabling and constraining, but a topic addicted to the usfg is certainly not empowering in the face of normalization--both in debates centered on the usfg and in global politics centered on the us.  More on this soon.
 
thanks for reading all this mumbo, my current feeling on the worker rule is that every person a school brings to the ndt should either be debating, judging a minimum of four rounds, or scouting a minimum of four rounds.  Observers can be given exemptions on a case-by-case.  This, of course, is NOT the current rule :)
 
kevin
 
 
 
 





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