Monthly Archives: May 2020

Debaters Have Been Criticized For Speaking Too Fast For Over 100 Years

That competitive debaters speak too quickly — and too monotonously, without clarity or persuasiveness — is a common criticism. I wrote about this a few months ago after reading a masterful description of “fast debate” in Ben Lerner’s The Topeka School. If you’ve been involved even tangentially in debate, you’re undoubtedly familiar with this criticism. I knew it had been common for many (many) years, but I didn’t realize until recently just how long ago it began.

In a 1918 article (“Delivery in Debate”) in the nascent Quarterly Journal of Speech Education (later renamed the Quarterly Journal of Speech), Chas F. Lindsley—a professor at the University of Minnesota—expressed many of the same gripes about debaters’ speaking that one still hears today. Think I’m exaggerating?

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A Brief History of Online Summer Debate Institutes (They’re Older Than You Thought)

The COVID-19 pandemic has forced summer debate institutes to shift from in-person to online instruction for the summer of 2020. In the coming months, more high school students will participate in programs providing online debate training than ever before.

As administrators, teachers, and students prepare to make this transition, I was curious about the history of online debate institutes. It turns out that they are much older than I had expected.

I think others might find this history surprising. With that in mind, this article briefly documents what I’ve learned. This is unlikely to be authoritative, but I think it’s still quite interesting.

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