[eDebate] Requesting Dr. Alfred Snider or Anyone with Experiance Starting Up a Debate Program

Dhairya Dalal ddalal2
Wed Apr 16 12:54:32 CDT 2008


My name is Dhairya, and I'm a debater at University of Rochester. Gordie and
Brady suggested I contact Dr. Snider, but I figured I'd open the email to any
one who had advice. 

I am currently working with an elementary school, grades K - 6, and want to
implement a debate program there for a few reasons. Firstly, this isn't like
most normal schools, while its public, its student population and curriculum is
very unique. The school is very diverse, with most of its students from all over
the world (37 countries and 26 languages) and a increasing population of
refugees as well. The school doesn't separate students based on language
proficiency or "grade level" (scholastic aptitude). What this also means is that
you'll have students, for example a 9 year old  who is a refugees from Somalia
with no formal education but be still be in the 5th grade. The school rather
depends on students working collaboratively with each other to learn both
English and the academic material. The school is also very creative in dealing
with the language barrier that most students face implementing interdisciplinary
programs with the arts and music, so that something being taught in history for
example will also be taught alternatively through music (making a song about the
event) and art to transcend language problems.

Obviously there are many challenges the school faces, but one of their main ones
is funding. Since they receive students from other countries at all times of the
year, many of the students aren't prepared for the standardized testing and do
poorly on them, the school gets shafted by No Child Left behind. 

So I thought implementing a speech and debate programs would be a good way to
aid the students in building critical thinking skills and confidence in
speaking. It doesn't have to competitive yet,rather, I was thinking of perhaps
working with the teachers to implement into the curriculum. Also, I'm a huge
proponent for critical debate and opening up spaces for narratives. These kids
are really bright, and I think debate would open up a great space for discussing
their stories, becoming aware of the issues that surround them, and exploring
new ways of thinking.

So thats the jist of what I'd like to do. I'm really new to most of this, I was 
novice last year, but I and the school really thinks this would be a good idea.
So any and all advice is welcome from how to start (funding, format, curriculum,
etc)to what makes a debate program successful. 

Thanks for your help,

Dhairya Dalal

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