Monthly Archives: October 2010

Space and China are the Final Two Topics for 2011-2012

The National Federation of High Schools announced today that the finalists for the 2011-2012 policy debate topic are space and China. The resolutions are as follows:


Resolved: The United States federal government should substantially increase its exploration and/or development of space beyond the Earth’s mesosphere.


Resolved: The United States federal government should substantially increase its economic engagement with the People’s Republic of China on one or more of the following issues: trade, economy, environment.

Resolved: The United States federal government should substantially increase its economic engagement with the People’s Republic of China on one or more of the following issues: trade, currency, environment.

NOTE: The NFHS inadvertently released the 2010-2011 wording of the China topic, not the altered 2011-2012 wording.

The voting results from round one are below the fold.

Continue reading

New Version of Office for Mac Released Today

The new version of Microsoft Office for the Mac—Office for Mac 2011—was officially released today. It is a major upgrade from the previous version that many Mac users have been eagerly awaiting. Of particular interest to debaters is the restored Macro support: Office for Mac 2011 includes Visual Basic and the Ribbon and so should support at least most of the paperless tools that have been developed for the PC. Microsoft is offering Office for Mac 2011 to students at a discounted price ($99.95 for eligible students).

Has anyone upgraded to the new version? What can you report regarding paperless support?

“So, How Do I Get Better At Debate:” Answering Debate’s Toughest Question

Debate is hard — there are no shortcuts to success. Students often look for a blueprint that will get them from the 2-4 bracket to the finals; in response, coaches emphasize that there’s no substitute for hard work. “Nose, meet grindstone” seems to be the best answer anyone faced with the “how do I get better at debate” question ever musters. But there are tangible steps that debaters can take to improve: this website alone has published hundreds of articles offering advice to students at all levels, and there is an abundance of material available in other places that can help put students on the right track.

But something is still missing. How can debaters take all of these various suggestions, tips, and drills and integrate them into a coherent plan for overall improvement? What is needed is a curriculum: an integrated, complete course of study and practice that a debater can use to transform the raw material of hard work into a finished product of competitive excellence. And while the specific details of any particular student’s curriculum ought to be developed with their needs and goals in mind, it is certainly possible to compose a general outline of a course of study that can benefit all debaters.

This article is the first in a series that will attempt to do exactly that: provide students with a basic outline that they can use to create a personalized curriculum to use outside of the classroom or formal organized practices that will help them acquire the knowledge and skills needed to compete successfully in debate. This first article will introduce the guiding principles that underlie the recommended curriculum; part two will provide suggestions for specific coursework.

Continue reading

Special Edition Politics Podcast With Emory's James Herndon

In a first for The 3NR, we have released two podcasts today for our loyal listeners. In addition to the regular episode, Scott and Maggie recorded a special podcast with James Herndon of Emory University that discusses the politics disadvantage (and the Midterm disadvantage in particular). Details about the episode are available at where you can download it directly or subscribe to the podcast in iTunes. Special thanks to James for sharing his expertise with the high school community.

New Podcast Episode Focuses on Skill Development

The newest episode of The 3NR Podcast is now available — head over to to download it or subscribe to the podcast in iTunes. This week’s episode focuses on skill development and provides practical advice that can help debaters at all levels reach their goals.

Kritik Concept 2- We don’t need uniqueness

Inevitably each summer when students are asked what makes a k different from a da one of the answers given is that a k doesn’t require uniqueness. This view is reflected in many debates I see where a team reading a k will respond to arguments about uniqueness by saying “duh, we are a k” and act as if that fixes everything.

The idea that k’s don’t “need” uniqueness relies on a basic misunderstanding of a few concepts I will now attempt to elaborate.

Continue reading

Tips For Answering Global Warming Impacts

The 2008-2009 alternative energy resolution provided high school debaters with an opportunity to research and discuss one of the most important issues of the day: global climate change. Summer institutes collectively spent thousands of hours researching all aspects of the climate debate and students invested many more thousands of hours preparing blocks, organizing files, and practicing speeches on these issues. The complexity of this debate had an interesting effect, however; instead of being the core focus of the season’s debates, it became only a side issue from which most teams shied away.

While climate change was not as prominent on the alternative energy topic as one might have predicted, it has become an extremely popular impact in subsequent seasons. It is now conventional wisdom that “warming is the only existential threat” and that it is the largest of all possible impacts. In order to bolster their advantages and disadvantages, teams have begun to read (often contrived) internal link chains that culminate in the ubiquitous “Tickell in ‘8” card. In combination with a “try-or-die” impact frame, this technique has won a lot of debates.

But this doesn’t need to be the case. How can debaters respond to these impacts effectively? A few suggestions are below the fold.

Continue reading