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ktg9616

Teaching Novices

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I go to a school where policy was once our dominant event in the Speech & Debate club. We'd have some really great teams that competed regionally (in St. Louis, Missouri) and nationally (KCKCC, Ohio Valley, Chicago, other close places). As of right now, the last line of defense for the policy team is two senior teams (one including me) and one junior team. Most of us went to camp this summer and are fairly decent. The team is slowly shifting to an interp/public speaking team, as well as most of the district (policy is dying in MO in general). As for information about quality of debate here, it's predominantly lay and coach-judged. We get the occasional speed/national circuit judge. They can go to camp after their first year, and the upperclassmen are dedicated to teaching them the logistics of policy and debate.

 

This year, we have 3-4 novices who are showing really great interest in policy following the creation of a middle school introductory activity. My question is how to get them to commit to policy and have the ability to build up their own solid base of policy kids once we graduate. We have a lot of graduated kids from our school that help out and look over affs, neg strategies, etc.. What I've been thinking about trying to not only teaching them the , but showing them how they could become the successors in my school's policy "dynasty/legacy" and carry on the tradition. 

 

I know not to teach Kritikal/theory stuff first, and I know you should start with the basics (Stock issues, format, DAs, CPs, structure, etc). What would be a good way to get them to see policy is fun and that they should commit?

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Impact calc and have the older kids do some crazy/funny impacts. When i first started this was like the 3rd thing we did and I really enojoyed it, I had something like oil wars and the varsity kids had kitten death, paper cuts, aids, etc. It gets them introduced into debate and lets them have a fun time. 

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Is AIDS really so funny?

 

I didn't mean it like that, I was just trying to say that debating about those types of impacts can be fun. 

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I want to think he means debating with an impact that's not the typical is fun, but given that it's in the same category as paper cuts and kitten death, I have a hard time thinking that.

 

With that said, letting them know there is some fun stuff you can do and flexibility with cool arguments, and especially teasing them with the whole 'you can do this if your good enough', really helps give the activity some appeal and is a harmless way to gauge interest (be careful though, letting them know troll arguments exist is fun, having them run them is not fun for anyone).

 

Be careful about overloading them with work. I know some large teams use novices for busy work and card cutting to filter out those who don't have a strong interest in the activity but coming from a small school it's best to ease them in.

 

My first ever debate meeting, where I knew I was hooked, began with a completely non-debate related discussion of the topic and general things about relations to the Middle East and Southeast Asia (it was the Military Presence topic). If they have some prior engagement with the policy structure, then it should be fine, but it might be best to set aside the raw wall of debate terminology and structure until they a vested interest in what they will be arguing about.

 

Also really focus on making the activity fun not only in terms of the debate the concept of being part of a team. My debate team was essentially a family my freshman year (we even had designated roles) and we hung out a ton outside of practices. It really helped keep me loving the activity, because a lot of debate is the amazing, friendly, sometimes elitist and intelligent community. One of my best friends only stayed with the activity past her second year because of the people and kinship. There are some teams that are very isolated and don't even share evidence with each other and there's a lot of internal competition, you want to minimize that and make sure that the novices like the people even more than the activity itself.

 

Cater to personal interests. I'm a staunch opponent of giving a novice or first year a K, but you should at least recognize what type of argumentation a novices interests, personality, and beliefs cater too. If you have someone very interested in issues of women's rights or maybe social justice, introduce them to structural violence and more policy femicide impacts, etc.

 

On the flip side of that coin, make them learn and do things they haven't done before. The education factor of debate (lol framework) is a big pull factor cause you really don't learn as much as you do as fast as you do anywhere else. Get them to defend things they don't believe in, do cross exs, teach them something new about economics or politics, and most importantly try to get them to unlock their potential and show them what they are capable of. Always be constructive, it's hard for everyones first few times but once they start getting a feel for it and getting used to the unfamiliarity of standing up and speaking they'll be able to do things they have never done before, which is a pretty awesome reason to stick to policy.

 

All the left wing anti-hierarchy stuff aside, be a leader and someone to look up to. I looked up both to my coach and my senior captain, and that's what gave me the drive to excel and fill his shoes and make sure I leave behind my legacy and people to carry it on as well. A little inspiration can go a long way

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I don't think kitten death is funny either.  Have fun killing kittens you fascist. 

 

I hope you get a paper cut.

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