Jump to content
HorowitzPenn

Discussion of Policy Debate on Slate.com

Recommended Posts

Dear Debaters and Coaches:

 

For the next 3 days, I will be involved in a Slate Book Club discussion with Mark Oppenheimer, who just wrote a memoir of his experiences in debate called Weisinheimer. We will be discussing his memoir and the merits of policy debate. Mark is a spirited critic of policy debate and I think it will be a great discussion.

 

Here's a link to the first post: http://www.slate.com/id/2264222/entry/2264221/

 

Check back in tomorrow and Friday for the second and third "rounds" of discussion. If you get a chance, definitely chime in in the comments section and stand up for policy debate!!

 

Finally, since it's potentially relevant for the HS topic this year, check out my new book, The Diffusion of Military Power: Causes and Consequences for International Politics. It's available on Amazon.com at: http://www.amazon.com/Diffusion-Military-Power-Consequences-International/dp/069114396X/ref=tmm_pap_title_0?ie=UTF8&qid=1280525230&sr=8-2

 

Best,

Michael Horowitz

Lexington High School '96

Emory University '00

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Two best take aways from the article....

 

Stylistically...

Mr. Robison, bestowed upon you: Use humor, avoid pacing, and look at the judge.
On winning in debate...
[T]he most entertaining debate stories in your book are the ones in which you emerge triumphant thanks to a clever turn of phrase, an eloquent monologue, or your sharp wit. To me, eloquence, research, and reasoning form the trinity of good debate. Too often, all of them are lacking from our political discourse. To the extent any of them are present, however, it is often style (or attempts at style) privileged over substance. This is unfortunate, because debate without substance runs the risk of being mere sophistry or just a dilettantish rhetorical dance. Where do you come down on the extent to which the activity of debate should be about style versus substance?

 

I don't think Washington DC is Hollywood for ugly people from my experience there for 2 years.....but rather Hollywood for smart people. Its a mecca of sorts for smart and passionate people. Otherwise good.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Though I may be biased (as a policy debater), I think that Oppenheimer's idea of what policy debate teaches is a little bit misplaced. Does it put more emphasis on research and preparation? Yes, because it is by far more academically rigorous than other styles of debate. Does it necessarily preclude development effective speaking skills? Absolutely not. There's a reason many of the top teams who do well at the TOC also do well at NFL, it's because what you learn is not just how to talk fast, it's how to structure a speech and be persuasive with fewer words.

 

Just because policy teams talk differently does NOT make what they say any different or less effective than what is said slower or more understandably. A large percentage of policy debaters at one point or another will engage in another public speaking activity, and many of them do better at it BECAUSE of their participation in policy debate. Learning how to talk persuasively is a universal skill whether it is done at 400 wpm or 100 wpm.

  • Upvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I love how Mark has appropriated my youtube videos of rounds to demonstrate the horrors of spreading.

 

Even with a YouTube video and it's inevitable diminishing of sound quality (regardless of how well it was recorded), I was able to understand 90% of what he said. I think that more proves that a trained ear can easily understand spreading that would be acceptable in an actual tourney.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This is the obligatory post where I say that the type of parli that Oppenheimer does is not the type of parli practiced by most college folks (Nick and myself included). I'm not going to comment on the legitimacy of parli as a debate event comparable to policy, but it is pretty fucking cool.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Right. Calling APDA a "debate" event would be rather generous. NPDA/NPTE, on the other hand, is basically policy without the cards. Does that just make it a shitty spin-off of policy? Of course. Ask almost any parli debater and they'll admit that we do parli simply because we're too lazy to do any actual research. But there are a lot of former high school policy debaters who are active, especially in the midwest, and stuff like speed, kritiks, theory, and the like have all become fairly widespread.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

1) Horowitz is just a better debater and cares about the argument more. (I would bet he had more years & championships on the other author)

2) While his mention of Brandon Fletcher is interesting. Brandon Fletcher was amazing (and incredibly smart) and I think went to Greenhill and had amazing coaching in Aaron Timmons. Its arguable he could of done the reverse as well.

3) Interesting as well from Horowitz:

At the end of the day, all speech and debate events can be terrifically beneficial to those who participate in them. Some, like parliamentary debate, hone your improvisational skills, sharpen your humor, and make you into more of a Renaissance man. There's a place for that, an audience for it, and your exceptional skill with words attests to its effect on you. Others, like policy debate, sharpen the skills of strategy and analysis, of building arguments and researching evidence to support a case. All of them provide valuable training in public speaking

Their differences are what help them to serve different kinds of students. I say, the more students who participate in any or all of these events, the better. None of them is for everyone, but let's agree with your role model, Alex. P. Keaton, and be happy that the market has succeeded in providing effective choices for our students.

4) His UDL argument is partially answered by Kate S, a former NDT champion from Emory heading up the national Middle School Debate program which is similar to the UDL and practices parli style debate (it exists on less funding and less infrastracture than the NAUDL and hasn't made all the political connections the NAUDL has).

Edited by nathan_debate

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

2) While his mention of Brandon Fletcher is interesting. Brandon Fletcher was amazing (and incredibly smart) and I think went to Greenhill and had amazing coaching in Aaron Timmons. Its arguable he could of done the reverse as well.

).

 

Brandon was from Newman-Smith HS in Carrollton, TX, but his coach was indeed Aaron Timmons.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...

×
×
  • Create New...