[eDebate] Intellectual Exclusion - opening your door....

Massey, Jackie B. debate
Mon Apr 14 09:30:32 CDT 2008

Physical Exclusion
Intellectual Exclusion
Cultural Exclusion

----- This is about Intellectual Exclusion ---Cultural Exclusion is next

I understand that I am no expert and I can only speak from my experience.  Some have asked me how I grew a team so quickly, I think this might be part of the answer.

The first thing I should probably do is identify what I mean by intellectual exclusion.  In this I mean by preferring one type of thinking/methodology/ideology/perspective as being the ?only? and best way of engaging towards education.

Example ?  Do you already have a definition of what a ?debate? looks like?  By this, I am asking, whenever you have your first team meeting of the year, and discuss arguments, do you already know what the arguments will be, and approach the meeting like a playbook.  ?Debaters do this?.

What if asking highly specific political questions about issues that seem so far away are not interesting to someone who faces controversy and crisis on a daily basis?

People ask why we should speak from our social location?  I think Ede had a good example of how for some there is not much of a choice.  Even if you disagree, we all choose how to orient our individual politics.

Lets take a look at the history of organized debate!  At one point I think it was all males!  Then came women debating each other, but separately.  Who were these people debating?  The movie the great debaters sheds some light on this, but even old pictures and result logs can also provide insight.  How have our rules evolved?  Who does the content of our topic areas interest most?  I am not going to jump off here and say the resolution plays a role in participation  (though I think it does) that is another debate to be had.  The resolution is a stumbling block, but not an impossible barrier.  It can hinder, but wont shut out.

At the first meeting of the year, when you discuss ?this is debate?, is it what debate could be, or just what you want it to be?  Or are all of your students already indoctrinated into what "debate is"?

I think this is an important first step in creating inclusion on your team.  Historical undeniable fact ? The current way of doing things has failed us as far as diversity.  It may have created a fun game for those who have the privilege of agreeing with the intellectual endorsement of this game.  But the game we play is not fun for those who approach life from a different  ?standpoint epistemology? (from Eli).

I think the first step for increasing participation amongst those people from the cultural and economic backgrounds that do not participate is broaden you teams definition of what debate is.  I am not saying eliminate the past in hopes of a brand new, I am saying take what we know from the past to open up the future.

Does the race to the most probable, with highest magnitude and quickest time frame show a label for our game that is not attractive or exciting for some?  Is it possible?

Open door squad policy!

That?s right. Open door squad policy.  How open is your team to students who have never debated?  Here is what I have noticed.

Check A         In Oklahoma, there are about 4-6 African American debaters in LD and CX  (that?s stretching it)

Check B Bringing students in with experience from other places requires a large amount of responsibility, planning and support.  I don?t have that many scholarships, and I stated in a previous post, I refuse to set these students up for failure.?iE bringing them in with no financial support to actually be on par/adequately supported to function in a college world mostly identifiable for the privileged.  This is the dilemma I cannot resolve.
It?s a question of giving a student a chance to go to college vs. the possibility that this ?chance? may not be a very good chance if they lack all of the resources that the other college students  who set the standards have. Tough choice, not sure there is an answer.  And also, is it my right to consider this question?

How will I increase the number of excluded peoples on my team?  If I were to have a problem bringing students in from outside of Oklahoma, I need a way to at least attract those who are already on campus.

With this in mind, one thing I wanted to do was make our team comfortable for those who want to participate.  In doing this, I have approached my definition of debate as something that is open ended, not defined, but capable of being created based upon the students.  In doing this, I feel like we open the doors of our squad room to everyone.  In five years, I have traveled over 80 different debaters.  All of these people have their own unique stories and backgrounds.  Many did not debate in high school.


People obviously think differently.   I can respect this.  How we construct what we call ?knowledge? and what we think best helps us acquire ?knowledge? is dependent on what the human goal might be.  My example of this is how there are categories that are used to identify different knowledge bases.  I have three prime examples

Red Pedagogy

If you examine the four categories, you see that their foundations for what is called ?knowledge? is cultural, not necessarily intellectual.  An intellect in one area could well be the fool in another.

Framing what one sees as foundations for knowledge has its roots in personal and cultural experiences.

Here is my position:

If debate is already defined, that means what one has deemed as ?knowledge? is already defined.  From this view of what ?knowledge? is, we attempt to derive a method of education to attain this knowledge.  If you already have a vision of what ?education? is, and you already know which ?knowledge base? your attempting to build your education towards, then those who have no interest in deriving an education from exploring the ?knowledge base? that you have chosen to funnel your debate education into are left out.  I have had students say, ?I don?t think we have a right to tell China what to do when we are killing people in the Middle East on a daily basis?.

This goes beyond my criticism of topic construction.  I think the topic committee already knows what they see as ?educational? and attempt to derive a topic for the purpose of exploring such.  What I am saying is that we at ground zero have to do something to open the door of debate to those who do not see the ?knowledge base? as defined/enacted in contemporary debate as a place that is interesting, valuable and inclusive of their own personal ?knowledge base? that is socially articulated and culturally constructed.

If your personal performative politics is one de-centering the cultural privileging of masculine traits over feminine, what does the big nuke war debate do for you?

If your performative politics of everyday life is one of fighting/experiencing racism, what does Mead, Khalizad and Bearden mean to you?

I think the most important step towards intellectual inclusion in competitive debate is based upon what type of open door policy you have on your team.

If you already have a definition of what ?debate IS?, then you are automatically excluding those who prefer a different knowledge base to pursue.

Remember my story about assuming students can read and then offering up your view of debate which forces the question, READ OR GET OUT!  With an a more open view of debate, you can take the student who has a hard time reading and help create an  argument and style that allows them to be competitive.  I am Indian, and we didn?t have this so called mass distribution of paper and opinions forever.  People were still intelligent and articulate without the New York Times or the Heritage Foundation to read from.  They use big words and make us feel smart, but this is not the only way to debate.  A student who can still debate while overcoming the hurdles of reading comprehension allows them to progress in these skills, rather than be turned away at face.

Would you?  Would you debate if you could barely read?  You never see debate! You show up!  Debate is this   (picture person going really fast at really fast speeds)  Even students who can read very well get intimidated.

Squad Dynamics is critical!



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