[eDebate] Do bad resolutions cause schools to leave CEDA/NDT debate?

NEIL BERCH berchnorto
Tue Jul 17 09:49:52 CDT 2007

Matt--I think you make some very good points (and it IS useful to have data!) about why programs leave.  An equally important question, I think, is why individual novices either do not start debating or quit right away.  I think (personal opinion) that resolutions are a factor there (though not the only one).  Again, we need to understand that there is no "best" resolution on every dimension.  The one that best balances competition at the NDT may not (and I would guess probably won't) be the same one that best attracts and retains novices (and even best balances competition at the novice level).  I don't totally agree with Jackie, but I do think that the former point of view on what is "best" dominates the topic process (largely because it is better represented in the topic process for any number of non-evil reasons).--Neil
  ----- Original Message ----- 
  From: matt stannard<mailto:stannardmatt at hotmail.com> 
  To: debate at ou.edu<mailto:debate at ou.edu> 
  Cc: edebate at ndtceda.com<mailto:edebate at ndtceda.com> 
  Sent: Tuesday, July 17, 2007 10:43 AM
  Subject: [eDebate] Do bad resolutions cause schools to leave CEDA/NDT debate?

  I will suspend the question of whether the current crop of list resolutions are "bad."  The question: do program directors identify them as reasons they left CEDA/NDT debate?  
  Last Summer, I asked program directors who had left CEDA/NDT to explain why.  I received 13 answers and not one of them identified resolutions, in form or content, as reasons why they left debate.  One director, however, did say "list topics are great for regional/small school debate."  No other reference was found to ANY aspect of the topic process or wording. 
  The most frequently cited reasons interacted with each other: limited travel budgets/increasing cost of national travel; and the decline of regional debate.  Other factors included: --change in student demographics... --improvement in the argumentative practices of parliamentary debate... --lack of commitment to novice and JV  --national circuit ideological hegemony...  --balkanization of mutual preference judging...   --negative communicative effects of fast delivery... I'm happy to share this data with anyone who backchannels me, although I will edit out references to specific programs and regions to protect respondents' privacy.  
  So it's not only inaccurate to say that "bad" resolutions (indeed any resolutions at all) are the "number one" reason schools leave; it's stupendously inaccurate.  Not a single hint of data that it's true, and at least strong suggestions that it is not.   
  This is not to say that you can't articulate that connection, but saying that's why schools leave when they explicitly give other reasons is problematic.
  I would suggest two things to Jackie:
  1. Do an open-ended survey where you ask people about their thoughts on the topic process and the role of resolutional wording in debate pedagogy.  I am sure you'll both learn from it AND find a way to articulate your thoughts about the problems therein.  Please believe me when I say I respect your feelings about the inelegance and seeming inaccessibility of some resolutions
  2. Host a cooperative.  I promise you that you will do more good in terms of access, region-building and program retention by hosting a summer cooperative than any amount of complaining about the topic process on edebate.  That's not just me being arrogant--that's the capital t Truth.  Increased economic access=more teams competing, period.  
  matt stannard

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