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A Post Concerning KSKCFL

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I largely agree with this post. What was of most concern to me (as a former debater and judge) was that this rule regarding the official prohibition of disclosing decisions and RFDs was decided at a summer meeting among Kansas coaches (i am not aware of specific individuals who attended/voted). This means at one point this rule was either non-existent or enforced. Because the inability to disclose produces a bad pedagogical model for debaters to engage their judge and learn from their experiences, i would like to hear the justifications for this rule from those who voted for it. Your decisions affect the debate community, and students deserve to be informed.

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from what i understood judges could and did give oral critiques if they wanted after they turned in their ballots.

they "could" in the sense that they were physically able to, and some certainly did. However, Mrs. Cook made it the core of the judges meeting on both days that two details were made clear to judges:

 

1. No oral kritiks--the justification was that it causes the tournament to lag behind, this has been answered above and is theoretically incorrect.

 

2. That any judges who were discovered disclosing decisions and/or giving oral Ks would be replaced with additional judges in the pool--there was intentionally the over-recruitment of judges, as well as the intentional mixing, which eventually precluded quality debates in front of experienced debaters. I only judged one round with any type of coherent line-by-line or articulation of the warrants of an argument that weren't tag-line extensions.

 

This is a reason why I, and the anonymous Kansas Debate community member are eagerly awaiting a response from the institution that manufactured these standards seeing as there was a meeting that was held without MOST of those individuals who have been coming back from college to judge (and who are consequently hired coaches by many of these schools) AND that there was a conscious attempt to subvert a positive pedagogical practice.

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The Idaho Debate Code also bans oral critiques and disclosing (along with flowing, tag teaming, 2NC counterplans, and depending on how you read the text, Kritks).  Several tournaments in Idaho have solved this by flat-out rejecting the IDC.  

 

I could not agree more that disclosure and critiques are among the most important, if  not the most important, part of a debate round

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The Idaho Debate Code also bans oral critiques and disclosing (along with flowing, tag teaming, 2NC counterplans, and depending on how you read the text, Kritks).  Several tournaments in Idaho have solved this by flat-out rejecting the IDC.

 

I'm not entirely sure what this has to do with the above conversation, but KSHSAA has [most of] the same rules, and everyone ignores them, except at State when we begrudgingly (and selectively) adhere to their nonsense. Also, I found the IDC's instructions on "How To Flow A Policy Debate" hilarious:

 

IInuiZa.png

 

The IDC does actually list kritiks as an allowable negative strategy, but the only time the word "kritik" appears in the document (pg. 8 in case you're interested), the authors were so baffled by it that they panicked and inserted a pair of unnecessary colons immediately following the word.

 

I understand why my Idahoan teammate debated almost exclusively on the Washington circuit.

Edited by Hartman

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There's a "rule" about calling for cards and giving an RFD.

 

There's not a punishment given for either "offense". The fact that a majority of coaches voted for either "rule" is frightening. 

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There's a "rule" about calling for cards and giving an RFD.

 

There's not a punishment given for either "offense". The fact that a majority of coaches voted for either "rule" is frightening. 

 

If you're referring to the instruction given to CFL judges who were at BVSW, then the matter requires further discussion because there was explicit instruction to conform to the prohibition on disclosure and oral critiques, but more importantly, there was the threat of pulling anyone from the judging pool who disobeyed. if that was in fact a lie, then the Kansas Debate coaches who organized CFL have a lot to explain.

 

*to clarify--i understood removal from the judging pool as a punishment. 

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Well, I am not a decision maker.  I do not know the decision makers reasons.  I'm only posting to provide some theories that perhaps would respond to this thread.

 

Let's start with the actual claim for the reason against oral comments.  Believe it or not, the timing of the tournament actually matters.  I fully understand that there are lots of debaters out there who would gladly make the decision to do debate for 18 hours a day every day.  They will claim that if it is their choice, then they should be allowed to do this.  I will say that this mentality is destructive to the activity as a whole.  Just like my posts against 3 day tournaments, coaches have lives and do not want to be at the tournament any longer than is needed.  They are very happy for your success, but it is important to them that the tournament does indeed eventually end.  I would argue that the coaches have decided how long they are willing to be at a tournament, and thus the schedule is set accordingly.  Note, this is also for the health of the students, but I'm not going to fight the fight that students are willing to sacrifice their physical and mental health to debate longer and longer.

 

When students see teachers at the grocery store or at the movies, they are often surprised because they forget that teachers and coaches are humans too who do other things than just teach/coach.  They haven’t come up with a robot replacement yet, and I would argue that having balance to ones life is more important/more valuable than spending more time at debate tournaments.

 

Once the schedule is set, delays to that schedule become a nightmare.  The students who are delayed because they are listening to a oral decision are late getting the next round started.  The judge, who is still in the pool, is late to getting the ballot in and picking up their next ballot so the next round is delayed.  Some judges are available for specific times, so when rounds run late then the judge is no longer available, and replacement judges are needed, which further delays the tournament.  It makes for a tournament that runs long which increases stress and takes away from people’s time with their families.

 

If tournaments ran long, or were scheduled to include oral comments, the would take more time.  Coaches have already set the maximum amount of time they are willing to set aside for the activity.  Thus oral critiques take from coaches what they were not willing to give.

Now, lets evaluate some other factors. 

 

When the judge gives oral comments, the coach doesn’t get a recording of what was said.  Coaches can’t later use those comments to coach their students.  Believe it or not, coaches want to actually be involved in making their students better.  The judge is not your coach.  Their job is to give a decision, not to make you better.  They should give justification for their decision, but at the end of the day they should give info to the coach so they can do their job.  The argument is that oral critiques are uniquely the most educational part of debate, and that is an insult to every educator, to every coach.  That means that the debaters believe the comments that a random judge that has no vested interest in the students is more valuable than the coach who is trained in education and dedicating their time and emotion in the students.

Another comment was that oral critiques lead to judge accountability.  This is also rather insulting in that the assumption is that the judge takes their decision less seriously if the students aren’t allowed to call them out.  For the argument to be true, then a judge would have to not care about their decision, but then realize that the students will grill them, so they would start to care.  Sorry, as a judge who does care about my decision, I can’t figure out how this can be anything but an insult.  Please don’t misconstrue my intentions with this comment.  I know that it isn’t intended to be insulting, it just is.

Furthermore, when students believe they can do more than just clarify, that also leads to a situation that many judges are not willing to put up with.  It is against the rules for students to make judges feel attacked due to their decision.  When students cross the line from trying to understand to debating the judge, it is an unacceptable situation in which no one benefits.  So, if you think oral critiques are to check judges decisions, it will likely create situations that also are destructive to the activity.  And as a judge, I’m particularly upset when I student believes they have the right to challenge my decision.  They don’t.  It only takes a few students to ruin this for the rest.

I would challenge the notion that oral critiques are a positive pedagogical practice.  I would suggest that the head coaches who have dedicated their lives to the education of students both in their time and their investment in degrees to education students have a better grasp on what is the most educational way to run tournaments and what is best for students.  I would disagree that students have some kind of positive right to getting more insight into the decision than what is on the ballot.  I would also disagree that the organizers of the tournament have any obligation to explain themselves.  They are the ones that put forth the effort to organize and allow the students the opportunity to even have debate rounds.  If the students don’t like the rules, by all means they don’t have to attend.

Finally, I believe the qualifiers should mirror the national tournaments that they qualify for.  NCFL also prioritizes the schedule over the perceived benefits of oral critiques. 

It is not surprising that college students and debaters who prefer college students as judges would prefer oral critiques.  The premise is that college students are very wise and can pass that knowledge through to high school students.  I’m not even disagreeing with that.  I’ve given oral critiques when the time is right.  But if the organizers of the tournament have said that it is not the right time to educate students between the rounds at the tournament they are hosting, then I think it is reasonable to respect that and find other times to pass on the wisdom of that particular round.

I very much apologize if any of this seems to be in an aggressive tone.  So much is lost or miscommunicated in print.  I merely wish to present different perspectives to attempt to increase overall understanding.

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I will say that this mentality is destructive to the activity as a whole.  

 

 

If the students don’t like the rules, by all means they don’t have to attend.

 

Oral critiques would hurt the activity more than students quitting. Got it. 

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Oral critiques would hurt the activity more than students quitting. Got it. 

 

:lol:  I hope your underlining of cards is better than your quoting on message boards.  LOL!  

 

Clearly you took my comment out of context.  If students don't like the rules of the CFL qualifying tournament, then they don't have to attend the CFL qualifying tournament.  I don't believe it is a requirement to attend that tournament.  Perhaps those who feel so strongly about verbal comments after the round can put together their own tournament that same weekend.  I was just saying that if the students find those rules so horrible, then they should attend the tournament that allows them to do exactly to their liking.

 

But lets say I was actually telling students to quit debate if they didn't get oral critiques by the judges they admire after the round.  Lets compare statistics.  Based on your research, how many students have completely given up debate because they were denied oral comments after a round?  I'm guessing it would be a rather large number given the the argument that there is nothing more educational than a judge talking to a student after the debate round.  We should compare that to the number of coaches that have quit because debate is the longest season of any extracurricular activity and demands every Friday night and Saturday away from everything else they care about.  I honestly don't have that number, but I'm willing to bet more coaches have quit because of the demands of the activity than students have quit because they didn't have their favorite college kid tell them just how much they know about the activity.

 

Its funny.  I took this year off of being an assistant coach after 13 years.  As much as I missed working with some brilliant minds, I needed to spend time with my wife, my family (most of all my 1 year old granddaughter) and my dogs.  But I came back and judged at EKNFL, and I saw all the kids I worked with and they told me how much they missed me and how much I was appreciated now that I was gone.  That appreciation made me feel like when there is an opportunity I can come back to coach again.  It is hard for a family man to sacrifice so that high school students can achieve more.  If the time commitment is too high, there are others like me that just can't do it.  So ya, I'm pretty vigilant that having a coach that cares is important and that we need to respect the time they are willing to give and not steal the time they just aren't.  For this judge, that outweighs.

 

Sorry if I offended.

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The first response to a rule that is less than satisfactory shouldn't be to not go to the tournament, especially one that people tend to place above others in terms of importance. The notion that community norms and traditions shouldn't be challenged because people worked hard to put on the tournament and thus it would be "rude" to question their authority is just ludicrous. There's no reason why productive discussions can't be had.

I'll forward two args here about oral critiques:

First, how would you feel about a tournament where oral critiques are mandatory and had to last at least 10 minutes? I feel like you (as well as myself) would object to this rule as it's just silly. Dictating exactly how judges handle post-round decisions and disclosures is dumb on both ends of the spectrum. 

 

Secondly, the decisions of judges should absolutely be questioned. You seem to think that a judges opinion is infallible and accurate. How then do you explain 2-1 decisions? You were on a panel last year with Amanda Gress at the KCKCFL qualifier last year and you clearly disagreed with her opinion. Which one of you is right? You certainly can't both be infallible. I feel like the ability to ask each of you questions is extremely educational, as you both probably had thought-provoking things to say.

 

Now, your "Coaches will quit" arg is based on a false premise. Oral critiques cannot slow down a tournament if they are used within reason. No, a post-round RFD for a prelim debate should not last 45 minutes but if a judge turns in the ballot and then uses the ~30+ minute window of power matching to discuss the round, the tournament should feasibly run on time. In fact, if no one had to write comments on the ballot, it could even save ~5 minutes because ballots would get turned in faster and power matching could occur quicker. 

 

As a first year judge in a community where the debaters are often just as smart (if not, smarter) than myself, I also value post-round RFDs so I can better understand arguments being made. I might even come to the realization that I've made the wrong decision in a debate. Whereas the alternative is me blissfully unaware of my incorrect decision. Maybe you like this scenario, but my personal opinion is that ignorance is not bliss. 

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Not really sure how to use the multiquote funciton so I am going to respond to everything straight down. I will say that I am not sure which of your responses is supposed to be a joke; some of the answers are so ludicrous that I can only assume that you are not serious, but I am will respond nonetheless. Perhaps our views of the value of debate are just irreconcilable. 

 

A2: Time Disad

 

I feel like you ignored what was said in the original post. You are making impact arguments without establishing a link. At KCKSCFL, every single round has to be power matched. This requires 30ish minutes between each round. During this time, it seems entirely feasible that a judge could turn in their ballot, return to disclose their decision and give comments, and finish that whole process well before the next round pairings are put out. 

 

A2: Coach Can't Hear Comments

 

Why can the coach not go in and listen to the post round discussion? If it is so important for the coach to hear what was said, why can he/she not have the debaters record the decision either through a camera or by transcribing the decision and comments? If this all falls through, why can the coach not go find the judge later in the tournament and ask him/her what their thoughts on the round were? These all seem like basic remedies to this problem. Also, I think that the pedagogical net benefit of allowing this discussion outweighs the impact of the coach feeling left out of the discussion, but more on that later. You have said: "The judge is not your coach.  Their job is to give a decision, not to make you better. " I certainly hope that you are not serious about this. Sure, the job of the judge is give a decision but to say that they should not help make the debaters better is sad. If a judge wants to go out of their way to give comments to the debaters to help them become better, why should they not be allowed to? I just really think that this statement shuts down a lot of positive education that could happen.

 

 A2: Accountability is Insulting

 

I apologize if I have hurt your feelings. I don't think that this is a reason that post round discussions should be prohibited. I understand that you are a great judge but it seems that a lot of judges would have the inclination to think for just a little longer to make sure that they have answers to every question that the debaters might ask them about their discussion. Good job if this doesn't apply to you! You have said "And as a judge, I’m particularly upset when I student believes they have the right to challenge my decision." This is one of the things I take most issue with your post about. Why should a student not have the right to challenge your decision? I know that you are an experienced judge but I have observed you make decisions that have perplexed me greatly and that I am 99.9% sure you have been wrong about. Because you are such a good judge, no one should be able to challenge the way that you resolve a round? Seems a little absurd.

 

A2: "I would suggest that the head coaches who have dedicated their lives to the education of students both in their time and their investment in degrees to education students have a better grasp on what is the most educational way to run tournaments and what is best for students. "

 

Several issues with this statement. First, I don't think this disproves the value of post round discussions. Unless a coach watched a debate, it seems mildly plausible that the judge who watched the debate would have some insightful comments on the round that the coach couldn't provide. Second, I just think that you are wrong. Yes, Kansas debate coaches are great and understand a lot but I think that a lot of the regional assistant coaches, college debaters, and community members have a better understanding of the way that contemporary debate is evolving and thus are able to better educate students they judge than the coaches of the students are. 

 

A2: "I would disagree that students have some kind of positive right to getting more insight into the decision than what is on the ballot. "

 

No one said that the students have a right to this. But if the judge is willing to provide it, it seems silly to shut down the possibility of this educational exchange. 

 

A2: " I would also disagree that the organizers of the tournament have any obligation to explain themselves.  They are the ones that put forth the effort to organize and allow the students the opportunity to even have debate rounds.  If the students don’t like the rules, by all means they don’t have to attend."

 

Wow. I guess we just really disagree about things. Just because someone is vested with a position of authority and responsibility does not mean that they should be considered infallible. There are lots of people who do noble things but that should be questioned. For example, congress puts in massive amounts of time and energy to do their jobs. Does that mean that we should accept what they do without question? Absolutely not. Kansas debate coaches deserve a lot of respect for what they do but they have made a ton of decisions that I believe are not good for the activity or the education of students. This unquestioning faith in a system is the kind of logic that allows atrocities to go unquestioned. Certainly it is not on the same level, but shutting down criticisms just because they are not what the coaches want to hear seems wrong. So yes, I do think that coaches have an obligation to justify decisions that they make that affect the entire community.

 

A2: Not the same as NCFL

 

Who cares? NCFL is not a very good tournament either but we have the power to affect the qualifier. Also, at NCFL, you can talk to judges after they turn in their ballots so the link to this arguments isn't true.

 

I am sure that you will not like some of the answers I have provided but I think that this is one of the things that you are opposing just to oppose. I would ask you to step back for just a minute and think if you really believe that judges talking to debaters after rounds is destructive to the activity. I think that you would be in just an unbelievable minority to think this.

 

Thank you,

A caring community member.

Edited by kkkkkkkkkk
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I generally find that giving oral critiques at CFL/NFL/State is not as educational as it usually can be because there is so much emotion wrapped up in the outcome of the round. 

 

The time thing can be a real issue when you have a panel of judges. In a perfect world, every tournament would have them... But I can certainly understand the reasoning for not having orals at some "post season" tournaments. 

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I generally find that giving oral critiques at CFL/NFL/State is not as educational as it usually can be because there is so much emotion wrapped up in the outcome of the round. 

 

The time thing can be a real issue when you have a panel of judges. In a perfect world, every tournament would have them... But I can certainly understand the reasoning for not having orals at some "post season" tournaments. 

 

The rounds are more important; therefore, the judges shouldn't have to justify their decisions, and education should be less of a priority. Seems illogical. Yeah these rounds are more important and can be more emotional, but that seems all the more reason why post round discussions are important so that the judges can explain their decision to debaters who are frustrated. Also doesn't answer the education disad to that model of debate which seems to outweigh the emotions disad.

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The rounds are more important; therefore, the judges shouldn't have to justify their decisions, and education should be less of a priority. Seems illogical. Yeah these rounds are more important and can be more emotional, but that seems all the more reason why post round discussions are important so that the judges can explain their decision to debaters who are frustrated. Also doesn't answer the education disad to that model of debate which seems to outweigh the emotions disad.

 

So is it about education or the judge "answering for his/her crimes?" 

 

What you're missing is that it does actually answer the education "disad"... In my experience once a decision is made, the teams tune out and either become argumentative or just want to walk out. Education doesn't occur, because the winning and losing team are not in a mindset that allows for it to occur. 

 

I can explain my decision on the ballot. 

 

I love oral critiques, I've probably given more than almost anybody. I'm not fond of doing them at qualifiers though. 

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I'm considering this question.  I would be primarily interested in hearing from active high school competitors as to whether they consider oral critiques valuable.

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I don’t relish being the Fox News in the MSNBC world of CrossX.  I’m sure there are dear friends of mine that are screaming, “Dear God Phil, just let it drop!  No one is being convincedâ€.  But I find that posting is therapeutic for me.  It is an outlet, especially since I’m not involved at this time.

 

Mr. Nelson, I’ll address your concerns first.  I think we fundamentally disagree on what a tournament is.  From my perspective, it is an invitational.  You are invited by a host to be a part of the experience.  You can decline the offer, but if you accept, you do so with the stipulation that you will abide by the rules the host provides.  You are a guest.  If you go to someone’s home and they say, “Don’t go in our bedroomâ€, you don’t respond, “But there are benefits to going in your bedroom.  You haven’t thought this through.  I know better than you do.† In this situation, that would be rude.  If you don’t like it, you wouldn’t go to their house anymore.

 

I agree that tradition and norms should be challenged.  I agree that authority should be challenged.  However, in this situation the tradition and norms are net beneficial to the alternative.  And the authority has indeed evaluated both sides and made the decision.  Just like I don’t believe that students should challenge the judge’s decision after it is made, I don’t believe it is productive discussion to assume that the coaches didn’t think about it before making a decision.

 

I thought your mandatory 10 minute rule example was very interesting.  However, I disagreed with your conclusion.  There are lots of rules that judges are asked to follow in making their decision.  No low point wins is a popular one.  Don’t make your decision based on your personal feelings of the topic area.  Judges are often dictated what they should and should not do.  So to tell them to disclose or not disclose would fit within all of the other instructions.

 

I also think we fundamentally disagree on what debate round is and how a judge’s decision functions.  The winner is defined by the team that gets the judge(s) to vote for them.  That is the definition.  Just like the winner of a basketball game is the team that scores more points in the game.  We don’t get to say, “Well some of those points don’t count because they were on fast breaks and the defense wasn’t set.† Debate is persuasion, specifically persuasion to vote for me.  However a team persuades the judge to vote for them makes them the winner.  The judge’s ballot is always correct in assigning the winner (absent obvious error like circling the wrong side from their intention).  The judge’s decision is always correct, even when I don’t like it or don’t agree with it. 

 

This weekend I was on a panel with Skogland, and we did not vote the same.  Yet we were both correct.  He was correct for voting the way he saw it and I voted correctly in the way I saw it.  We are different people and see things differently.  It wasn’t that one of us were wrong.  I think to believe there is an objective truth to the winner of the round is one of the worst fallacies about debate rounds.  I was also in a round with two first time judges.  I again squirrelled.  The team I voted for went on to qualify for nationals.  That doesn’t mean the two less experienced judges were wrong.  They were absolutely right by the definition of what wins a round.

 

And I very much disagree with the notion that allowing students to question judges leads to better decisions.  It is one thing to ask for clarification for education.  But to question the authority of the judge’s decision after to round is to try to get a second bite at the apple.  It is trying to score another basket after the horn has sounded.  The debaters are supposed to persuade the judge during the round, not after.  If they didn’t persuade me during the round, even if they have a convincing argument that would change my mind, they didn’t do that during the round.  Again, my decision is correct because it is based on how I was persuaded during the round.

 

I supposed a different model of debate may be more educational based on the philosophy of allowing students to converse with the judge to persuade them.  If judges were allowed to provide their mindset after each speech so the students could react and do better each speech, that would fit the benefits.  Like a cross X of the judge.  I mean, why do they have to stay silent during the round, but then can speak after the decision is final?  Wouldn’t they make better decisions, and the kids have a more quality debate if they could react when it mattered?  I mean, if as a judge I could tell the kids that their answers on T were too weak and they were losing that argument would that save us a lot of unproductive time?  And if I told the kids that the link story on the DA was flawed and that the 3rd advantage was outweighing, then the students could react and properly condense to the arguments that mattered in the round.  In the name of education, it seems that perhaps judge intervention during the round rather than after the round is better.  I’m guessing that model hasn’t been adopted for some reasons that I’m not aware of.

 

Your response to oral critiques slowing down the tournament comes from a different perspective than mine.  I’ll share mine.  I have been to tournaments that absolutely were slowed down because of oral critiques.  It isn’t a matter or would or would not, it is a matter of fact that it has in the past and has the potential if not checked.  You say they should be within reason, but sadly I’d approximate 2% of people will fail to stay within reason.  Given 50 debates a round, and that means there will be one judge who fails to use reason and the entire tournament pays the price.  I’ve been to tournaments in which debating was finishing at midnight because of a single judge.  It gets violated and abused, and it takes one person to ruin it for all.  So coaches protect themselves by outlawing it.  You say they shouldn’t last 45 minutes, but they will if they are allowed.  You say, “give us the 30 minutes of power matchingâ€, but that is to misunderstand the situation.  It doesn’t take 30 minutes to power match.  It takes 30 minutes to get that last ballot so power matching can be done quickly and accurately.   And if that last round wants to do oral critiques, the risk again is the tournament will run behind, which the coaches will fight to prevent no matter what. 

 

I write my comments on the ballot as the round goes.  For the most part, my ballot is completely filled and I’m out the door before the debaters have cleaned up.  Other than perhaps my dearest of friends Peggy Patch, filling out the ballot doesn’t slow up a tournament, but oral critiques do as a matter of empirics.  And the ballot is the one tool that the coach has to actually understand what their students did and can improve on.  When you don’t fill out the ballot you are saying that you don’t care if the students coach can effectively work with their kids.  Preferring oral critiques to a filled out ballot is to say, “Coach, don’t worry about it.  You don’t have to work to improve your kids, I’ll do it instead.† Yes, that is problematic for many head coaches.  Its not that they don’t appreciate you wanting to help, but they want you to give them the tools to make their students better, not to do it in their place.

As a first year, you are not making the “wrong decisionâ€.  Again, you are always right.  The kids were to communicate to you during the round.  If that didn’t happen, then they failed, not you.  However, if you are changing your decision after discussing things with the kids after the round, well then you are failing.  You are giving them additional time to persuade you.  You are counting baskets made after the scoreboard lit up.  Its not that ignorance is bliss, it is that there is a time limit to communicate and anything that didn’t get communicated doesn’t count.

 

For Mr. or Ms. K’s  (sorry, I haven’t picked up on your anonymous gender)

 

You are right, I hadn’t expressly stated my links to the time D.A.  I assumed based on my perspective and didn’t take in account that you’d have a different perspective.  So let me be more clear.  Allowing oral critiques will take more time.  This is true for the following reasons:

  • Empirics.  I have been to tournaments in which one judge thinks their opinions about the round are so important that they take forever and hold up the entire tournament.  I’ve literally had to step into the room and politely as I could stop the judge and inform them that my students need to move on to the next round or I need to take them to dinner so they can eat something before going to bed at a somewhat reasonable hour.  I think many coaches have had the same experience.  It may be a vast minority, but there have been judges who have ruined it by abusing it.  So to protect the tournament, it is easier to outlaw it and create punishments rather than to try to subjectively manage it.
  • As I mentioned above, the illusion that power matching takes 30 minutes is incorrect.  The vast amount of the delay is getting that last ballot in.  So to put a risk to that last ballot being delayed is more of a harm than the benefit of the marginal increase in education.
  • Slippery slope.  The same contemporary mindset that wants oral critiques also wants preround disclosure and the “power huddle†that delays the beginning of the round.  If we carve out time for oral critiques, why not carve out time for “power huddles†and anything else that would delay rounds.  Again, the schedule represents the maximum amount of time that coaches want to be at the tournament.  (BTW, this is a bad argument because it is opening a new can of worms, but it is honestly a reason that oral critiques will cause tournaments to take more time)

Your responses to coaches want to coach were interesting, but again come from a different perspective.  I think you didn’t take into account logistics.  Coaches can’t be there for the oral critiques because they have multiple teams there.  I guess we could take turns, but that would definitely cause time to be increased.  I just don’t see the coaches, especially in the shape they are in, running from room to room to listen to each of the decisions. 

 

Furthermore, at the CFL tournament, the coaches are running the tournament.  Is Mrs. Cook supposed to stop tab so she can hear the decision for her kids? 

 

I like some of your solutions, like give the oral critique later in front of the coach or video taping it on a phone or something.  That is clever.  I really like the idea of transcribing the reasons for the decision.  Like if it could be on paper, something the coach could reference later, that would be ideal.  Perhaps if the judge were to write down their reasons rather than express them verbally we could have an educational tool in which the judge helps the coach to coach their kids.  I like that idea best.

 

Let me be clear, most coaches very much appreciate that the judge wants to help make the students better.  While it may not be their primary job, it is a great sentiment to have.  My point isn’t that judges shouldn’t help.  It is that they should not attempt to replace the coach.  It is the coach’s job to make the kids better.  The judge should not assume the coaching responsibility and shut the coach out of doing their job.  The best thing the judge can do is to assist the coach in making them better.  When you give oral critiques and shut the coach out, you take the coach’s place and give them no opportunity.  That was my point.  Thank you for taking interest in making kids better!! 

 

I disagree with you on the issue of judge accountability.  As I said above, it shouldn’t be an issue that the judge should have more to consider.  The judge’s decision should be based on what they hear during the round and what persuades them.  Not based on things the students question after the round.  My feelings weren’t hurt, but I do think it is insulting to say that a judge doesn’t really put thought into their decision unless students can question/interrogate them after the round.  Now, I have been in places where oral critiques are the norm, and I gave mine.  I have been grilled by kids who just can’t believe I’d make my decision based on what I did.  Those occasions I did get pissed off.  They failed to convince me during the round and then challenge me, which is to disrespect me as a judge.  Trust me, education is not happening at that point, it is just emotions, and it is unhealthy.

 

You ask why do students not have the right to challenge my decision.  Well, that comes down to what a debate round is, as I explained above.  Their job is to persuade me.  They have a time period to do so.  By definition, my decision is correct based on what I was persuaded by.  They can ask for clarification to better understand, but they cannot tell me my decision was incorrect.  If I didn’t hear an argument or understand something, well then they didn’t communicate it.  Flat out, it is not a right of the student to say my decision was wrong.  I will not change it that would be cheating.  All it does is create hurt feelings.

 

We’ll agree to disagree on the value of coaches.  I respect that you have a different perspective than me, even though I don’t know your perspective since I don’t know you, but I believe that assistant coaches, college kids, and community members should attempt to help coaches rather than take their place. 

 

You are right, authority should get questioned.  And while I don’t believe any genocides are occurring due to the authority placed in the hand of the coaches of Kansas,  you are right that it is fair game to ask the question on why the rules are what they are.  I think I have issue with not accepting the answer.  Yes, I believe the coaches know what is better for the students, the health of the activity, and how to run an efficient tournament than those who are just ignorant to the realities.  I believe that the SQ is extremely healthy and change comes with risks.  And I believe that the people who are dedicating decades of their lives have more wisdom and vested interest than those who think they know better after a relatively short period of time and can be gone tomorrow.  In short, those young wiper snappers need to get off my lawn!!  Sadly, I’m an old man.

 

NCFL is a good tournament.  What they accomplish is impressive.  I’m not sure what your warrants are.  And I must question, if it is such a bad tournament, then why bother qualifying to it?  Why not go to a different tournament that allows oral critiques?  NCFL does say to get your ballot back, and then doesn’t care what you do, you are right.  I’m guessing if we could trust judges to get their ballots back on time, then things would be different.

 

I’m really glad I got that out of my system.  That felt good.  Like therapy.   I appreciated this exchange and while I’m sure it didn’t change any minds, I’m glad we both got to express our perspectives.  We come from different viewpoints and value things differently, so we disagree, but I hope we still respect each other.  I know I respect those who have posted.

 And  thank you for the compliments on my judging.  I honestly do take a lot of pride in it and even if you were giving me lip service it was nice.  But I’ll believe that you were being genuine and that was appreciated.

 

T-Money, amen brother.  I agree with you and have shared those experiences.

Edited by Corporate DB8er
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I'm considering this question.  I would be primarily interested in hearing from active high school competitors as to whether they consider oral critiques valuable.


I have not read the whole thread, so I won't be responding to or making any argument, but I was told about Dubois's request for student opinion, so I thought. I'd give my two cents. I am a fan of oral critiques because they allow the ballot to become a discussion rather than a lecture. This is not to say that it allows the debaters to argue with the judge, but allows the debaters to ask good clarification questions and inquire about the decision. I would say 90% of all oral critiques are fairly short and sweet, but the other 10% of judges that like to be longwinded are also competent enough to let the tabroom tab their ballot prior to being so loquacious. Additionally, the oral critique need not be a place to disclose the decision, but if a team loses a debate on the same argument three or four debates in a row, an oral critique probably would have been able to ameliorate that problem much earlier in the tournament. Moreover, reading ballots has (to be totally honest) become one of my not so favorite things to do and I rarely do more than skim the rfd. This is definitely not the best thing to do and an oral critique forces me to focus on judge comments. If a judge values their advice, as I'd hope most of them do, orals are the way to go. Additionally, an oral critique allows debaters to ask about specific portions of the debate and about how they could improve. If a debater thought their 2NC on the K was really good and it was the first time giving it, a good question might be "what'd you think about the 2NC?" or "did you think I made the right 2NR decision not going for it?" are very relevant questions that are probably not answered in a highly partitioned and already filled with irrelevant boxes 8.5"x11" ballot. I think the tradition of the ballot ought not go away, but any specific stuff can go on the ballot and long oral critiques can be hedged against by only giving the most pertinent comments, putting the rest on the ballot, then asking the debaters for questions.
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I don't understand how oral critiques stall the tournament... The judge spends the whole round flowing, and is then expected to write everything on the ballot after the round. Maybe I'm just a slow writer, but isn't it much faster to speak your comments than it is to write them out?

Edited by OfficerTom

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NCFL is a good tournament.  What they accomplish is impressive.  I’m not sure what your warrants are.  And I must question, if it is such a bad tournament, then why bother qualifying to it?  Why not go to a different tournament that allows oral critiques?  NCFL does say to get your ballot back, and then doesn’t care what you do, you are right.  I’m guessing if we could trust judges to get their ballots back on time, then things would be different.

 

I do not want to get too bogged down in this discussion. I do, however, think that I can provide some insight into the answer to the question of why teams go to the qualifier even if they do not hold the national tournament in high esteem. For Spencer and me, we did want to go to the NCFL tournament, but we would have much rather attended any number of the out of state tournaments that took place on the weekend of the CFL qualifier. However, Kansas has created a system where competitive teams are forced to go to the CFL/NFL qualifiers in order to be eligible for second semester tournaments. I think that this is a structural issue with the way KSHSAA is set up that I have been vocal against for a long time. Not entirely sure what the warrants are for why NCFL is a bad tournament; it certainly is no where near as good of a tournament as a lot of Kansas tournaments and out of state tournaments, but it is not a bad tournament, per se. 

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A side comment that would solve back some of problems raised in this thread (which I won't go back and answer all of them) is to allow for teams to tape their speeches in a debate round. Notice I didn't say record the whole debate, but record only speeches given by that school.

 

It solves back any claims about coaches being able to coach things that happened in a debate and IF an oral critique is given, coaches can look at the notes that their debaters took during the oral/debater feedback then relate it to what really happened in a debate. Also, we can match up the tape to what is said on the ballot to make any lack of an oral critique/ballot still a learning experience.

 

As a coach, I find that my debaters sometimes (actually most of the time) sound a little bit different in an actual debate compared to a practice speech/debate. Lots of factors are involved in that. I would like the ability to check for understanding with my debaters by having tournament rather than fixing problems that might go unnoticed.

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Let me be clear, most coaches very much appreciate that the judge wants to help make the students better.  While it may not be their primary job, it is a great sentiment to have.  My point isn’t that judges shouldn’t help.  It is that they should not attempt to replace the coach.  It is the coach’s job to make the kids better.  The judge should not assume the coaching responsibility and shut the coach out of doing their job.  The best thing the judge can do is to assist the coach in making them better.  When you give oral critiques and shut the coach out, you take the coach’s place and give them no opportunity.  That was my point.  Thank you for taking interest in making kids better!! 

 

 

If judges shouldn't help, why write anything on the ballot at all? It's a different medium to accomplish the same goal as an oral critique. Except one is inefficient and inadequate while the other is educational. 

 

Also, why is an oral critique mutually exclusive with writing a couple comments on the ballot as the round is occurring. My problem with what happened at KCKCFL is that oral critiques were explicitly banned, not that writing comments on the ballot isn't also educational.

 

Recording oral critiques/students taking notes achieves the same purpose as writing comments on the ballot except it allows for questions to be asked and clarifications to be made. It also has the added benefit of a coach potentially being able to stand in and listen, as well as ask questions. Maybe I'm in the minority here but I try to do this for the kids I coach. 

I also just don't think it slows down a tournament. at KCKCFL, there was consistently 30+ minutes between rounds because they have to be powermatched. This leaves ~10min for each judge to give an oral critique which seems like more than enough time for a fairly comprehensive oral critique. 

 

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If judges shouldn't help, why write anything on the ballot at all? It's a different medium to accomplish the same goal as an oral critique. Except one is inefficient and inadequate while the other is educational. 

 

Also, why is an oral critique mutually exclusive with writing a couple comments on the ballot as the round is occurring. My problem with what happened at KCKCFL is that oral critiques were explicitly banned, not that writing comments on the ballot isn't also educational.

 

Recording oral critiques/students taking notes achieves the same purpose as writing comments on the ballot except it allows for questions to be asked and clarifications to be made. It also has the added benefit of a coach potentially being able to stand in and listen, as well as ask questions. Maybe I'm in the minority here but I try to do this for the kids I coach. 

I also just don't think it slows down a tournament. at KCKCFL, there was consistently 30+ minutes between rounds because they have to be powermatched. This leaves ~10min for each judge to give an oral critique which seems like more than enough time for a fairly comprehensive oral critique. 

 

Sweet googley moogley!!!  At this point I don't even care about if it is legitimate for a tournament to decide to ban oral critiques or not.  I just want to be quoted accurately.  You litterally avoided underlining the negation as a part of my statement and used it as a strawman attack.  Seriously.  I said "my point isn't..." and you argued as if that was my point. 

 

Let me be clear, judges should help coaches coach by writing on the ballot.  Writing on the ballot preserves ideas in history, is a tool for the coach who can not be there in person, is more reliable that the interpretation of the student while taking notes, and can be done in a timely manner.  The ONLY net benefit that is isolated by oral comments is the ability to clarify, which historically leads to negative emotions for all involved, is not available to the coach to do their job, disappears into nothingness after the soundwaves move on, and historically, absolutely has caused tournaments to run behind.  Could oral critiques be beneficial?  Absolutely.  Have I given oral critiques?  Yes.  I completely agree that if done properly that oral critiques can be benefical, but a tournament has every reason to protect itself from the harms if it is determined the harms outweigh.

 

Please in the future don't misquote me with abusive underlining. 

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That was my mistake, I meant to bold the entirety of that sentence. 

 

Regardless, why does it matter if judges helping debaters occurs via a ballot or an oral critique? Ballots get misplaced, are hard to read, and also slow down tournaments. 

 

Why can't judges write down the 5-10 most pressing comments on the ballot so coaches have a recollection of what the debaters should work on and then also give an oral critique? You can also record the oral critique with a video camera, webcam, or simple audio recording software that is available on nearly all computers. 

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