[eDebate] Different experience with novii and the topic...

matt stannard stannardmatt
Thu Aug 30 22:39:15 CDT 2007

Although we don't have any novice policy kids on our squad this year, I can note a very similar experience with Sue's in terms of the novices and JV students we worked with at the cooperative this summer.  Everyone was amazed and excited at the ease of finding literature on the topic, and everyone was excited and passionate about debating the topic.  Should we work on crafting more elegant resolutions?  Absolutely.  But having worked with more beginners than normal this year, my experience is a lot different than Scott's.  I don't mean to sound like I am shutting out his complaints.  I am for ANYTHING that will increase the number of schools participating in (a) debate in general and (b) policy debate specifically, because of the unique benefits of its rigor.  But I personally could not have asked for a more accessible and easy to negotiate topic area.  As someone with small children, community obligations, department obligations, teaching load, team administrative work, all on top of trying to be involved in the research process, I really like this resolution, dangling whatevers and all.  
> Date: Thu, 30 Aug 2007 18:53:26 -0700> From: bk2nocal at gmail.com> To: scottelliott at grandecom.net; edebate at ndtceda.com> Subject: [eDebate] Different experience with novii and the topic...> > I can only speak from my own experience, but I have a program of all > novii with two JV debaters and they all seem totally jazzed about this > topic. The first meeting of the year went 1/2 hour over time simply > because they didn't want to stop talking about what they thought would > be good affirmative arguments, what kind of definitions they wanted to > look for, etc. The second meeting (only two days later) they all had > articles and definitions that they had been able to find totally on > their own. In addition, one of our TAs told his public speaking class > what the topic area was (albeit, not quoting the resolution > specifically, but just saying it was debating whether we should increase > our engagement with these countries) and got three people who came after > class to find out more about the team BECAUSE of the topic.> > I would think that as advocates we could instill the importance of this > topic being debated at this point in time being something that is > important to any well-educated citizen. After all, there are all sorts > of implications to what we, as the US, decide to do in that part of the > world. And there are a number of different views within the individuals > running for President on what should be done. There are well-educated > people making statements EVERY DAY in the news on this subject. I > honestly can't think of a topic that would be easier for novii to locate > evidence, construct positions and advocate those positions. There > wasn't one person at our table of 12 at the first team meeting that > DIDN'T have an opinion about US foreign policy in the Middle East. Its > something they know about already, can easily access information about > and feel good about learning more on the subject (like its useful, > instead of just an abstract exercise being done for debate and nothing > else). > > I agree that the resolution is wordy...but I pitch it as something we > simplify through that old "parametricizing" idea...we don't debate the > RESOLUTION. We debate the affirmative case - and although there are a > number of affirmatives available, all of my novii felt comfortable being > able to find arguments as to why an increase in US involvement in the > Middle East would be a bad idea, no matter what form that involvement > took and what country in the Middle East the US got involved in.> > I really think that we sometimes lose sight of what gets students jazzed > up about debate. It isn't the resolution - its them being able to have > a voice about a subject they (1) know something about and (2) care > about. From my first week at Chico and my experience working with the > novice lab at ADI this summer, this topic does both of those things. > So, I have to respectfully disagree with this topic being bad for > novice/JV debate. Last year's topic, although I personally liked it, > did not lend itself to being novice friendly. The literature was > difficult to find in most cases on overturning supreme court cases of > any kind, let alone the four we had a choice of. This year, the novii > at ADI were able to find evidence almost immediately. They were able to > brainstorm affirmative and negative arguments almost immediately. In > addition, as Dr. Hingstman pointed out in the beginning of his topic > lecture at ADI, this is the first topic in recent memory that was > actually discussed, almost in its exact form, during a Presidential > debate. > > So, obviously you have had a vastly different experience than I have had > on this topic, but I think perhaps we should examine a little larger > sample before jumping to conclusions about the topic. > > --Sue Peterson> CSU Chico> > scottelliott at grandecom.net wrote:> > I still think that either a switch to a two topic per semester format, or a> > topic area geared toward novice, JV and the "non-hard core" varsity debaters is> > the way to go.> >> > I can tell you from experience that my predictions about how much this Mid-Eas> > topic sucks for recruiting has come to fruition at ULL, where I am attempting> > to build a policy program.> >> > First, the Parly debate team, in total, walked and never returned as soon as> > they saw the topic and what it would require.> >> > I have now had at least 8 former L/D and CX debaters who are students at ULL> > walk away, even though they really wanted to debate again. Why? Because the> > Mid-East Resolution is so overly technical and simply too broad for them to> > work with. We don't have shit one for resources-i.e. We did not send anyone to> > WDI or ADI. So, we are starting from scratch. For students who have to work> > jobs or maintain their scholarships, this topic just flat out sucks. So, eight> > debaters who wanted to debate have walked. I have one that is really committed> > and two that show up at debate meetings but will probably bolt after they go> > 1-7 at their first tournament and realize their only hope of competing is by> > refusing to debate policy--going for K's every round.> >> > I am going to try again Tuesday to recruit Novice debaters by doing a> > presentation to all the classes in the University Honors department. But I feel> > like I have to perform some form of bait-n-switch in order to get kids to debate> > even at the novice level.> >> > I have personally spent over 60 hours researching and cutting cards for just one> > affirmative case, and probably have only covered ten percent of the issues> > necessary to defend it---without even addressing the Kritical ground. I have> > one debater that knows how to cut cards and two that are willing to learn. But> > it really is an overwhelming task.> >> > Unless something is done to wrench the topic selection process away from its> > current focus--making sure that the TOP 20 varsity debate teams have adequate> > ground to debate the Octo-final round at the NDT--I think there is no> > alternative but to create an organization that is responsive to the needs of> > the other 99.9% of students who want to do policy debate, but at a level that> > is more in keeping with the lives of 21st century college students.> >> > Scott Elliott> >> >> > _______________________________________________> > eDebate mailing list> > eDebate at www.ndtceda.com> > http://www.ndtceda.com/mailman/listinfo/edebate> >> > > 
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