[eDebate] *****SPAM***** Some thoughts about MPJ and a non-competitive CP

Sue Peterson bk2nocal
Wed Nov 22 11:57:58 CST 2006

I see the huge risks as well as the huge benefits of the judge "comment"
system that Joe speaks of.  I find it to be brilliant on multiple levels.  I
will step out on the ledge here in the interest of pedagogy - when I first
start judging in college, I felt completely unqualified.  When I look back,
I don't think I WAS completely unqualified, but I was certainly lacking in
an understanding of deliberation over certain arguments that I had rarely
run while debating (e.g. politics).  I wish that I had been able to be a big
enough person to ask other judges or even debaters about my explanation of
decisions after the round...because I often felt like there was a disconnect
between my explanation (which I felt was right) and the debaters (one team
who thought I was right and one team who thought I was wrong)....and it took
time and A LOT of paying attention to how OTHER respected judges explained
their decisions for me to get to the point where I feel pretty comfortable
with the explanation of my decisions nowadays.  I think this speaks to two
things that I would add to Joe's comments:

(1) Debate is one of those rare activities where adjudicators' only
qualification is being out of the activity (usually) - there is no training,
no evaluation of capabilities, etc. except by debaters and their judges, who
are obviously often biased.  And I think that leads to a misconception that
training is NOT necessary - that if you debated, you will obviously know how
to judge - the better the debater, the better the judge.  But judging is a
very different experience then debating.  And I REALLY believe there are
some GREAT judges out there, who make the right decision MOST of the time,
but can't explain their decisionmaking verbally for the life of them.  Which
then turns them into "bad" judges in the minds of most.  I think what makes
D Heidt a great judge is not just his care and concern and effort (although
all of those things are important) but his ability to put into words the
exact process that he went through in making the decision, so its
educational for debaters and totally predictable in the future.  That is as
much an art as a skill - and we are NEVER formally taught how to do it.  So,
some are able to develop the skill and others are not - despite their
ability to evaluate rounds correctly and fairly.  We're so strapped for
judges now that it is difficult to institute some kind of "shadowing"
program for new judges, but I think it would be incredibly helpful for many
of us.  I learned a lot just by trying to pay close attention to what other
judges said during post-round decisions in elims, etc.  But, its an area
where few of us are willing to say, "I don't know how to explain my
decisions effectively - help!"

(2)  The judge comment system would help in not only ranking judges but
would help with this pedagogical development as a judge.  There were a few
teams that I felt comfortable asking, "did that decision make sense to
you?"  or "was there anything you thought I missed in the decision?" when I
first started judging - but in front of most teams I would maintain the
touch of arrogance, choosing to protect my vulnerabilities.  Perhaps a
virtual system would make judges more likely to read, listen and make
changes where needed.  I'm sure authors are the same way - those bad reviews
on Amazon are painful, but maybe you can make changes to your next book to
improve, without having to "face" your critics while they complain about
you.  BUT I do agree with Joe that many in our community believes the
CRITICISM = INSULT and don't bother with decorum, especially online, but
even in person.  A certain level of compassion and empathy would be needed,
and I don't know if we have that...

So, I think its a great idea, but I think its also a horrible idea.  I don't
know how to get rid of the horrible...other than have a moderator whose job
is to take out all the useless, insulting and not at all constructive or
necessary insults.  But, that would probably be a really big job...

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