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why did you do debate?

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I'm the next director of debate at East Lansing High School I've got to focus on recruiting. I'm trying to canvass as many debaters as I can for the answers to these questions: "What made you join debate (initially)?" "Why did you stay in debate?" and, "What kinds of recruiting activities did your high school do? (specifically, if you passed out handouts, what did they say? if you went to middle schools, what ideas did you 'sell'?"

 

I think the answers to these questions would be useful for a lot of people in my position. Please be honest as I'll be creating useable research data from your responses.

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I was (and am still) really into politics, so I went to the informational meeting. Getting me to the first tournament was the key factor--I was considering quitting beforehand because debate seemed boring, but the first tournament hooked me.

 

The same thing happened to my friend, who I convinced to try debate.

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I joined debate because at my high school, you have the choice between this redundant reading comprehension class vs. speech/debate.

 

I stayed in it because I had a fun time. I met a lot of people from KS, and enjoyed the atmosphere of debate tournaments.

 

Recruiting... my school does virtually none. I've tried some recruiting, but it never really latches on because most of the people that deal with the debate club at my school couldn't care less. I've talked with some people - we have a few counselors talk with people.

 

I think the key to recruitment is simply to find those interested, and get that on their schedule, and don't let them get out until after first quarter. A lot of people enjoy debate after the first tournament.

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i joined intitally because i needed a speech credit [required in idaho for graduation, may be obtained from speech or debate courses] and didn't have any desire to take a regular speech class. i stayed because we had an amazing varsity debater that took me under his wing and taught me everything i needed to know about the policy debate. he became my debate partner and with each little bit of success, i got more and more hooked on the activity.

 

our recruiting was low key. mostly word of mouth, booths at school functions and maybe a few flyers? i don't remember. it wasn't a huge thing, we never had any shortage of fresh meat in the fall. probably eighty percent dropped the team before second semester which was fantastic. it weeded out the idiots.

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I joined because i heard it looked great on a high school transcript for college/my mom (sort of) did it in High School...turns out my best friend was in that class and I saw the immediate impacts on how well I could do in school because of the different techniques i learned...

As far as recruiting Mead has a freshmen Oreintation thing where all the clubs/sports have a booth...we send people out with flyers about the program during it and set up a booth with like 20 trophies and some really shinny ones to attract peole.

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at first i joined because it sounded like an activity that combined speech giving skills with talking about real world things like politics and convicing people about your side of an argument. at first i wasnt sure about the whole thing, but my first tournament was fun, and i stayed in because i wanted to be the best.

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I did debate because my brother was incredible he got somethin like 20th in the nation?

My sister was also really good.

So I was drug into it by family, and I really didn't want to do debate, to be honest I believed all the stereotypes, but now I love debate.

 

But to be constructive and give you some advice that will do more than tell you about my family history, I'll tell you what kept me from debate.

 

First, the stereotypes. What you need to establish is that debate is fun, what our team does is we throw a novice party, with games etc. to get them to realize that debaters don't match the stereotypes.

 

Secondly to recruit, I know this sounds dumb, but get some decent looking guy that chicks are all over and have him ask them to join debate.

 

Mostly appeal to all types of people, for the people into work, let them know there is work. For people that want some fun, show them debate is crazy fun. So really adapt the program to people a bit, but keep the same core values.

 

This idea will lure in some stupid people, but they'll leave soon enough.

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What stereotypes would you say were perpetuated by those not involved with the activity? I'm only curious because in both High School and College, no one seemed to even be aware that deabte teams existed at their schools.

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At the end of every semester (Kansas only does debate 1st semester) on our final we have a question that is something along the lines of "Who that is not in debate do you think would be a good addition to our squad?"

 

Those people are sent a flyer saying they've been recommended and most end up joining. In fact one of our policy national qualifiers was my suggestion. You sort of get that friend appeal and it's an extra little boost to those with controlling parents or people who just weren't sure if they would be good enough to debate in your program.

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Eh, on more of a serious note...

 

When I heard the whole "speel" that our school gave to try to convince me into debate, they showed me that one article talking about how Harvard rejected perfect scores on ACT people to let in people with dabait experience. What caught me was how the mere act of taking a debate class could boost you so far up on an academic scale. When I first took the class, I had no intention of really getting "into" it, but as I debated, I found a peak interest in it.

 

Also, finding out that my school's debate program paid for entry fees, some meal money, and hotel rooming fees also helped a lot. I'd heard of debate programs in states like Illinois where you paid for everything you did, and was comforted by my school (Highland Park High School, Topeka, KS) covering a lot of funds. In fact, a huge majority of my school's budget goes to things like meal money and entry fees, and even supply fees, to allow debate, a generally expensive activity, to be accesible to as many people as possible.

 

So, the top things I'd see as attracting to debate programs:

 

1) Make the benefits for colleges known, especially to parents - you immediately drag in smart kids

 

2) Make the fun of the activity obvious - let it be known that late squad nights often turn into pizza and socializing, and that it's not just a "brainy, intellect" activity, but one of general fun because the topics you talk about can vary.

 

3) Make it known that students won't have a lot of out of pocket expenses. If I were told that I had to pay 100% of all supplies, travel, and entry fees to touranments, I'd quit the event right now because of money restrictions. Knowing that help is there makes your lesser-rich students feel like they can join as well.

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1. I did not want to take regular speech class

2. The coach was hardcore

3. The people I meet and knew through db8

4. I liked it

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Our school's counselor discourages taking debate or any elective as a freshman, so despite my begging and pleading, I was forced to wait until sophomore year. I knew I was going to take it because my dad was a stud at it in high school; I'm interested in law; I <3 arguing about everything; and speech class is boring--that is a commonly known fact. As such, there was really no doubt in my mind that I was going to do debate. I just didn't know that I was going to get all obsessed with it.

 

However, a lot of things worked together very nicely to kind of nurture this manic obsession I've developed. The whole, "don't do it til you're a sophomore" thing [while it pisses me off to no ends considering how good I would be right now if I had started a year earlier] probably does help a lot of our students choose to stay, just because novice sophomores generally beat novice freshmen, and that level of success keeps 'em in. However I wouldn't recommend that approach and actually actively oppose it at our school.

 

Furthermore, our coach is pretty cool. The other debaters are pretty cool. The key to recruitment, as far as I can tell, is to show the fun aspects of debate. Arguing for school credit is, plain and simple, sweet. Reading really fast and listing nine scenarios that all culminate in a nuclear war is, plain and simple, sweet. Show these fun aspects to possible candidates--but don't make the activity seem "nerdish". While I realize a lot of the "nerds" are actually much more entertaining than "normal people", you aren't going to convince incoming freshmen that. So get yourself a debate hottie to recruit. If you're looking for a primarily female team, model your debate hottie after, well, myself. If you're looking for a primarily male team, just find a girl that is willing to wear a skirt around and looks decent and the boys will flock to the squad. Sex appeal is a shameless tool to recruit kids--but then, 8 minutes of inherency is a shameless way to get a ballot, but sometimes it just HAS TO BE DONE.

 

So pick a hottie like me.

 

Finally, point out that nobody wants to take high school speech. Ever. Tell them that the option isn't debate or no debate. The option is

 

a) speech class, the most boring class offered at your school

 

--or--

 

B) a lack of speech class, the replacement being a class where yelling, kicking, screaming, and occasionally biting are acceptable, so long as it advances an argument.

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At my school there's no real speech requirement or anything. And debate is a club rather than a class.

 

The promotional activities were just a few fliers in the halls, announcements about meetings, and demonstrations at assembalies. One thing in particular that we did at the fall assembaly was have one of our seniors do a rap on environmental policy (this was the year after oceans). While it might not on its own be quite so awesomely effective, doing somethign like that will be a good tool for publicity and it will make debate seem less like the horrendous beast that it is.

 

We're planning on starting up more promotional activities including at the middle school (taking any middle schoolers who are so inclined on the high school circuit with us, if we can get all of the logistics for that taken care of).

 

At the informational meeting at the beginning of the year, a few of the reasons included:

Colleges like you

You get to miss class

You get to chill / all the fun stuff

You learn about colleges / travel / go to camp

Your teachers will like you

You learn how to talk

You have evidence so that you can extemporaneously assemble a research paper without actually doing any research

You can write stuff / argue stuff without having to think about it

Your parents like it

 

Depending on if you offer non-policy speech events, you might want to say that you can still get these benefits without doing as much work or something.

 

if, like in some of the above posts, your school requires some form of speech, it would be good to talk about debate in a comparitive nature to the other classes

 

I stayed in debate because it rocks... After my first few tournaments I was kind of nerve wracked during/after debates, and was feeling overall bad about debate before my coach gave me a port of pep talk. I know it sounds corny / doesn't work on everyone, but even though now im prolly one of the most debate obessed kids at my school, starting out can be hard for everyone (even if they dont outwardly show it).

 

Specifically why I stayed in debate:

It's basically the only competitive intellectual event that exists in high school

Colleges like it

It makes me smart / able to talk / able to think about anything whenever I want to

It has become a strong part of my identity / people respect me for it. Like, in most of my classes where there's a lot of student participation, other kids actually quiet down when I say something... It's kind of awesome.

I can't justify quitting. It's just againt my personality to do anything less than what I see to be my full potential (even though I do in fact have large problems with procrastination and overall doing less than I could.... *sigh*)

Missing school / tournaments = fun.

You can get a good grade on school stuff and do less work.

 

Our school should prolly do more recurring activities... Basically, we just put any tournament successes on the announcements and tell people when the meetings are and have the fliers with our meeting times / contant info in the halls.

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you're starting up a debate program, you should also prolly check out some of the threads on funding.

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got kicked out of tennis and the class that i found a bit interesting that still had spaces that was offered that same hour was debate.

 

i did cx b/c the former partner that my current partner had quit debate.

 

fate i guess?

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my cousin wanted to win the Debate Captain election, and so he got about 9 of us to go to the first few meetings so we could vote for him. i stayed because he paid me to be his partner. then when i got more speaks than he did at our first 4 tournaments, i decided i liked the activity.

 

brennan

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I never intended on joining debate; it was merely (the largest) part of an enrichment course I took as a freshman. I liked it, despite the fact that I was, and still am, a horrible speaker. Despite inconsistent records, changing partners too often, and running bad arguments, the people were great to be around. Debaters are what keep debaters in debate. I knew that there was no way I'd be able to meet people from across the United States and travel to places like Berkeley or Stanford otherwise. For every two hour policy round, there was ten hours of preparation, traveling, and strategizing. You can't get that level of involvement anywhere else.

 

Oh. Recruiting. College is enough if that doesn't convince anyone. I have received enough scholarship support to completely cover all of my college expenses and that's without debating in college. I attribute a substantial amount of my success in college to my experience with debate in high school. I mean, how else would I be able to talk about James Der Derian with professors?

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I joined debate because I was interested in public speaking and wanted something to help me with speaking/thinking. Debate seemed like the right thing to do. I'm extremely glad I joined because it turned out to be the best choice I ever made. I met some of the greatest people I know and the activity itself helped me in school. I stayed because of the debaters, missing school, competition, and the fun. A good debate round felt so rewarding, I just wanted more. I couldn't stop.

 

I don't know how our team advertised, but I'll be advertising for next year, and I'll mention:

 

Looks good to colleges

Something to actually do and participate instead of just a club for NHS

Meet new people

Travel and hotels

Tournaments

Lots of skills acquired

Fun

 

Debate is the funnest academic activity I now. Well, that's my input.

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I dunno how 'high tech' you're teams gonna be, but at my school it's just an afterschool club. for 'fresh meat' theres an introduction thing at the end of spring for 8th graders and all the clubs and sports teams get like 2-5 mins to talk about their activity or do whatever they want. Then in the fall we put up a buncha posters, announcements, interest meetings, and then word of mouth.

 

I joined cuz in middle school we had a 'debate club' where they 'debated' about issues, but the club filled up before i could join but all my friends were in it. I got to high school and found out there was a 'debate team' and decided to join. having serious upperclass debaters there to help take in newbies under their wing would be helpful cuz we didnt have that and i spent my first year having fun, but losing a lot. and i didnt go to camp til after my sophmore year and only then did i learn what real debate was.

 

I think with most people just get them the basic idea of what to do, make sure they half know what to do before their first round and either they'll be hooked or they wont. :)

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I had done speech in high school, but had always watched policy rounds and thought them interesting, and when I got to college I got in trouble with Mr. Jack Daniels, my second week of freshman year and got sent to the Resident's dean's office and there was all these debate trophies. Mr. Watts gave me a choice - probation, or I could come to an 8am Saturday meeting of the debate team - I went, I was hooked, and debate became the thing that kept me out of trouble and set me right in life. H.

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Ive always been interested in that kind of a thing since I was a kid. A childhood friend and I tried to start a debate team at our school but I ended up moving anyway and the school I moved to had a debate team so it was natural that I joined.

 

If anyone contributes time and energy to a particular activity it sticks. I got really close to a lot of people on the team and I like the ideas that came out of the topics.

 

When I was a senior a few of us went to the middle school and said it was a speech credit, that you go to tournaments and meet people from other schools, helps get over fear of speaking. And pretty much tried to look cool while selling it.

 

I know the word of mouth thing worked too. ie> my partner's sister was two years younger so when she joined a slew of her buddies came with her.

 

Good luck.

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