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You're overlooking all the bright minds that were enticed into
the activity precisely because it seemed so strange, new, and difficult.
I wasn't just talk-anybody-can-talk. It was an actual challenge for a
> I understand that other regions are trying similar experiments to allow
> students to argue competitively without the consecration into our rituals.
It looks ritualistic to the ones who haven't fully mastered it
yet. The good debaters sound, to the uninitiated, like they're doing the
ritual, when, in fact, they are just as likely to be blaspheming at 400
words per minute.
But surely it should come as no shock that we are a
quasi-religious order. Why do you think we call our beginners "novices"?
> the chess player were forced to play under time constraints (and there are
> chess tournaments that do this, but no real championship events), we would
> ruin a game of thought.
All official chess matches are played under time constraints.
Speed chess gives each side 30 minutes. Regular matches are about 2
hours per side for the first 40 moves. But they all have time
constraints. (And they all *need* time constraints: those grandmasters
could think about a chess position for three days and every minute would
be spent in productive nonrepeated brain labor.)
> development of making speed an almost mandatory part of our activity. This
> would be like allowing Jerry Rice to move so fast down the field that no
> referee or camera could really follow him, so he could say he caught the
> touchdown but none of us could really see whether he did or not.
Good comparison. If we don't see it, it doesn't count. If I
can't understand it, in a debate round, it doesn't count. But I -- and
you too, I bet -- *can* understand 400 wpm.
But if Rice is visible, but still lots faster than his
competition, we don't tell him he's got to slow down because he's ruining
- Meredith Garmon, Fisk U.
- From: email@example.com (David Muschell)
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Soros Foundation Debate Program I'd like to interrupt your discussions to tell you about an interesting debate program developing in Eastern Europe. My name is Katherine Johnson. I am working with the Soros Foundation on a project developing debate in Eastern and Central Europe, The Balkans and Central Asia. Some of you are already familiar with The Soros Foundation and have been assisting us with the project...Thank you! For those of you that are not familiar please let me take a moment to explain our program. In March 1994, The Soros Foundation invited 60 people from 18 countries throughout E.Europe to Budapest Hungary to learn about a new program that could be introduced into their schools. The participants, mostly high school teachers, came expecting to learn new teaching methods from an organization they had heard a lot about. What they received was an introduction to debate; an activity that was both challenging and intimidating to most of them. The training was run by two Hungarian women, one of which was a professor of Applied English Linguistics who had recently returned from a year in Australia where she learned about Debate. The other was a high school English teacher who assisted with lectures, research material etc. The initial training gave a brief, very general idea of debate, rhetoric, and its application in the classroom. Although not presenting a complete picture of debate, the initial training was very successful in sparking the interests. Before leaving Hungary, The Soros Foundation explained their offer for funding the debate program. The program would include funds for: 1. A Debate Center: which is an office/room which should be used by both the administration and the debaters as a meeting point. ie. a club location. 2. Subscriptions and Research material for the Center. 3. Office Equipment to be used at the Center. 4. Salaries for the teachers who develop this program at their schools. 5. All travel and accomodation for debaters relating to tournaments. 6. Salaries for three administrators for each country. Excited by the many opportunities offered to them through the debate program, many of the participants returned to their countries and began the program. They submitted budgets, hired people, found debate center locations and generally worked to develop the program in their countries. Within 10 months the program had grown faster than any other youth program in the Foundation. The budget doubled and the demand was growing. Debate was a hit in Eastern Europe! The problem was that the initial training had not prepared the Soros Foundation employees or the debaters for this type of growth. The quality of debate varied depending on how well the initial teachers understood the Budapest training. Rules varied from country to country as did the teaching methods. A more uniform program needed to be developed to meet the growing needs. I was hired to assist in developing this program. For the last six months I have been travelling throughout the region, assessing the program, training new teachers, and generally identifying each country's developmental needs which tended to vary. Two weeks ago I returned to the United States after two and a half years in Eastern Europe (it was wonderful to come home!) and am now beginning my work in developing teaching material for the European debate program. My goal is to develop: 1. Video tapes: A. Teachers. I envision an instructional tape for teachers which would involve classroom activities allowing the teacher to see how debate instruction is structured. ** It is important to note hear that the teaching style and in general the classroom environment in the former Soviet Union is very different than the United States. So often times, the most difficult concept for the teacher to grasp is "open discussion" during the lessons. B. Students. A tape showing a debate that at times pauses to point out mistakes or strong points of the debaters. Students are very interested in debate but is limited because of the lack of instruction. We need to develop a tape for the students to get more specific, advanced instruction. 2. Written Materials. One of the biggest barriers in getting the teachers to begin debate in their classroom is the lack of materials to offer them. Teachers in any country prefer to have textbooks and classroom exercises to use during their lessons...particularly when teaching something they only partially understand themselves. We are therefore working on introductory materials to offer them for approximately the first 10 weeks of debate instruction. 3. Audio to accompany the book, to assist in teaching persuasion, intonation etc. I am aware that similar material has been published in the United States. I have reviewed many books and tapes and in some cases have found them useful. The problem frankly is that the program in E. Europe is not as advanced and structurally is a bit different. It is a cross between L.D. and Policy as there is no plan but the topics tend to be similar to that of Policy..(ie. The government has an obligation to take care of its poor). The debate is three on three with two sets of cross examinations. The focus is much more on public speaking and persuasion skills which is, in my opinion, unfortunately not true in the more recent style of U.S. debate. The differences go on and on, not to mention the language problem that many of the U.S. materials pose to non native speakers. So there is my situation. In the next three to four months I will be working on developing materials specifically for the Soros Program. What I am looking for from anyone that is interested in helping are suggestions on effective books, videos etc. that might give me some ideas on how best to approach this project. I am also looking for imput from anyone with innovative ideas on developing this material. I feel certain that most of you have, through your own teaching, developed classroom exercises for debate instruction. I would love to hear from you! Please keep in mind, that the materials we develop will have to be completely self explanatory. We must assume that the user will be a tired, underpaid teacher with only a two day introductory course of debate and a lot of good intentions. If you have any questions, comments or ideas please write me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Sincerely, Katherine Johnson P.S. I think the Mexico resolution is interesting but more importanly helpful in making students more aware of other countries. One of the most frustrating aspects of our culture is how uninformed we tend to be about other countries and cultures.
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