Intelligence Squared hosted a debate about phone surveillance at the National Constitution Center on October 7, 2014. The topic for the debate was Resolved: Mass collection of U.S. phone records violates the Fourth Amendment. For students preparing for next season’s surveillance topic, this debate is an excellent introductory resource. This article outlines a lesson plan based on the debate that can be assigned to students regardless of their experience levels.
Debaters in the current generation have access to a staggering array of information. As preparation begins for next year’s surveillance topic, one underexploited resource available to debaters is the podcast. Because domestic surveillance has been part of the national conversation for several years, there are many useful podcast episodes dedicated to topics that students will be debating next fall. This article will offer suggestions for how to use podcasts as part of a student’s debate preparation. It will also provide an introductory list of links to helpful episodes about the surveillance topic.
To make it easier to use the speaking drills referenced in the hip-hop article, I have compiled a document with all of the materials formatted and organized for ease of use. This freely available resource includes all of the hip-hop and other songs as well as a few additional materials that are helpful when doing speaking drills. Enjoy!
Over the course of the summer I recorded several lectures that have been posted to Debate Vision. While some readers might have already seen them, it can’t hurt to share them again here on The 3NR. On the heels of the film study lecture, this one discusses strategies for learning by watching others debate — it is embedded below the fold.
“Learn everything you can, anytime you can, from anyone you can—there will always come a time when you will be grateful you did.” — Sarah Caldwell
If one looks closely enough, there are lessons to be learned about debate almost everywhere. The book Moneyball—Michael Lewis’s look at the exploitation of market inefficiencies in Major League Baseball—for example, can help us consider ways to exploit market inefficiencies in debate. While management strategies in professional baseball would seem at first glance to have little to do with high school debate, important lessons can nonetheless be learned—if only we take the time to dig a bit deeper.
In the same way that Moneyball inspired reflection about market inefficiencies in debate, Paul Edwards’ How to Rap: The Art and Science of the Hip-Hop MC provides the astute observer with a wealth of lessons for high school debaters. How to Rap is a comprehensive guide to hip-hop MCing that includes lengthy discussions of content, flow, writing, and delivery. Based on interviews with more than 100 MCs, Edwards’ book “marks a cultural coming-of-age for hip-hop — the first comprehensive poetics of this new literary form.”
While the entire book is fascinating, the section about delivery is particularly useful for high school debate. This article refashions Edwards’ advice to prospective MCs and applies it to debate. Five areas of advice are outlined: Breath Control, Taking Care of Your Voice, Enunciation, Vocal Style, and Presence/Swagger.
Debate is a speaking activity, certainly, but it is also a writing activity. Good constructive speeches rely in large part on well-written prepared materials, but rebuttals are where the real writing occurs. To deliver a powerful rebuttal, students must verbalize their arguments clearly and persuasively—but do so extemporaneously, without a script. Good speaking, like good writing, must be clear, concise, and well organized: the content needs to be allowed to shine through.
As part of this summer’s Hoya Spartan Scholars program, students were given an opportunity to transcribe and edit their rebuttal speeches. The transcription process is tedious—it takes a lot of time and concentration to accurately and completely transcribe a debate speech—but the payout is substantial. By transforming a spoken speech into a written text, students can more rigorously assess the content of their speeches and dramatically improve their efficiency and language choices. And by doing so, the connection between good speaking and good writing becomes obvious.
In the course of editing students’ transcriptions, one thing became abundantly clear: debaters do not communicate efficiently. Most rebuttals overflow with filler language, distracting sentence structures, and imprecise word choices. This undermines persuasiveness, of course, but it also directly sacrifices content by wasting precious speech time. The goal of a debater should be to effectively communicate as many important arguments as possible to the judge within the time constraints. Doing so requires not just speed but efficiency. And while gains in speaking speed are certainly valuable, improvements in efficiency can be much more dramatic.
A list of 16 common efficiency problems is provided below the fold. Did we miss one? Share it in the comments.
Part 1 discussed in detail how to work on the actual speaking to improve your points, part 2 is going to discuss a few ways to improve the things you are saying. Before doing that I will quickly address some questions I got about part 1.
A few have emailed/posted questions about prep for the toc. Loyal 3nr readers know most every question about how to win the TOC was answered step by step in my pulitzer prize winning series (here, here, here, ). One thing that was not addressed in great detail there was how to become the top speaker at the TOC and so this series will address this.
The 1AR, like the lamer Matrix movies, is all about choice. A good 1AR picks from the options presented in the 2AC and hammers home a few key points, it doesn’t crappily extend every argument. I feel like past posts have gone into why this is so ad nausea, so this post will take for granted that you agree the 1AR must collapse and will instead focus on an example. In the attached xl document you will find the flow of a politics debate through the 2NC. The 2NC has done a decent job of extending the disad- no arguments are dropped, there are diverse answers to each 2AC argument, and there is some impact jive at the top. If you give the 1AR you will find yourself giving politics 1AR’s like this frequently because people have blocks to most of the 2AC arguments given in the demo speech.
Below the fold I am going to discuss ways to chose what arguments to go for and why, but before you read that look at the flow and think about what arguments you would select to go for and why. Think about different circumstances
-do they have a cp?
-is the cp plan inclusive?
-are you going to win a big risk of the case or a solvency deficit?
Then think about why these factors might affect what arguments you chose to extend.