[eDebate] answers for TIm..

NEIL BERCH berchnorto
Tue Jul 17 09:10:37 CDT 2007

Questions for both sides:
Jackie:  If the key to the vitality of debate is for more people to do a good job (like you do) with respect to novice recruitment, then why do you mostly cite programs that didn't even have novices (at least as far as I know)?

Tim (and others who have argued in the past few weeks):  Will you concede that the resolution that provides the best competitive equity in national circuit varsity debate isn't necessarily the resolution that does the best job of helping us to recruit and keep novices?

Some quick thoughts (just observations though some are testable):
1.  Initially, the topic ("In three words, what are we debating?") matters more to new novices than the resolution.
2.  They do get frustrated, however, when they find out that instead of debating school desegregation, they are debating (take your pick) counterplan theory, silly disads, kritiks filled with words that none of the five people in the room understands, or the meaning of "only".  Thus, the desire to balance the resolution for those at the highest levels (which often focuses on counterplan theory) can come into conflict with novice recruitment and retention.
3.  I think that novices quit more because of frustration with the work burden than anything else.  That's just a personal observation; others may have observed other things (and, except perhaps for Ede Warner, who is a leader in this regard, we haven't done much in the way of systematic evaluation).
4.  That frustration has gotten worse in the past ten years.  The amount of time commitment needed to be successful in novice debate (at least in this part of the country) has grown tremendously.
5.  There are class implications to #4, as it becomes increasingly difficult to learn debate and compete adequately, while going to school and working 20+ hours per week.
6.  I agree that novice debate is the key to building the future of CEDA.
7.  It's not clear that novice debate thrives in D7 because of, or in spite of, it being "policy debate" (others think they're doing policy debate as well).  It's important to note that:
a)  novice debate has thrived the most (this is statistically verifiable) in D8 (CEDA Northeast) over the past several years;
b)  that attendance at ADA tournaments is down significantly the last 3-4 years;
c)  that California (the 3rd strongest region for novice debate) has a style that is the antithesis of ADA.
8.  I would argue that the reasons novice debate thrives in both D7 and D8 are twofold (and both of these conditions are necessary):
a)  The directors in those regions have made a commitment to novice debate.
b)  They have geography on their side.  I can take novice debaters by van to 15+ tournaments within a relatively short drive.  You can't do that from Pocatello or Tempe.

--Neil Berch
West Virginia University

  ----- Original Message ----- 
  From: debate at ou.edu<mailto:debate at ou.edu> 
  To: edebate at ndtceda.com<mailto:edebate at ndtceda.com> 
  Sent: Tuesday, July 17, 2007 9:34 AM
  Subject: [eDebate] answers for TIm..


  Let's start with a question for you.  What has happened to the two college programs you have coached?  I am sure resolutions 
  wont be one of the answers, but i do know that resolutions was one of the reasons notre dame was traveling the CEDA circuit 
  before you came aboard as coach.

  You list costs, budget cuts etc and claim i make a root cause argument.  I said biggest complaint, not root cause.  However, 
  the costs, research and budget can all be connected to resolutions.  Did you even think this through at all.  I would never state 
  one of these resolutions to my department chair word for word, i would rather admit its too long.  That makes our activity 
  insular immediately.

  I have been in college debate many years.  I know many people who were on these teams that you mention, and i know people 
  on the teams that are about to exit. We disagree.  This requires each person to think this through for themselves.

  You coach at one of the top recruited high schools in the country.  If debate resolutions stay this way, your kids will always be 
  highly recruited because they can afford the camps and travel that put them in contact with  those who debate via technique, 
  and thus benefit from the current resolutional structure.  I say you have self interests in defending debate as is.

  If you really acknowledged debate is shrinking, then how can you immediately rule out resoultional constructs?  Thats not 
  critical thinking by any mannner.  I dont rule out budget cuts, but i do draw connections between resolutions and competitive 
  success for those who dont recruit the students at the caliber of st. marks technique.

  I dont need evidence to draw the connections, and you sound absurd saying there is no connnection.  

  Question for you.  What was the biggest change or only change about the quote  "merger"?

  The resolution.  And you rule this out immediately?

  Is it because you prefer one style of debate over another?

  I like debate.



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