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A Post Concerning KSKCFL

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I speak only for myself as a coach and not for the organization in question.

My own students and others have persuaded me that oral critiques in this context can be on-balance beneficial.  I think, however, that this is going to be a very, very hard sell to the body of coaches as a whole given the mechanics of the tournament, and that at least in the early stages, any form of permissable critiques would be less extensive than the advocates would want, and certainly less extensive than the prevailing standard on the national circuit or in college.

To that end, and for the purposes of further discussion, please review the following possible standards and let me know what you think ought to be different.

1.       Oral critiques exist for the educational benefit of the competing students and for no other purpose.  Critiques which do not adhere to this standard are out of place at this tournament; if critiques as a whole are deemed to fail to meet this standard the practice will be discontinued.

2.       No judge is obliged to give an oral critique, or to remain present in the room for the oral critiques of other judges.

3.       No competitor is obliged to listen to any oral critique or to any portion of an oral critique.  The decision of a debater or debaters not to listen to an oral critique is not considered acceptable grounds to punish a team competitively.

4.       Critiques must accompany a ballot containing a written RFD, rather than be used as a substitute for a written RFD.

5.       Critiques may not be conducted by any judge who has not yet turned in a written ballot.  All ballots are final at the time the judge submits them except in the event that the tournament director requires clarification regarding the judge’s intent.

6.       Critiques may not be conducted in front of any judge who has not yet completed his/her ballot.

7.       Critiques are considered to be a post-round event rather than a part of the round itself; they may therefore be recorded for subsequent review by teams, coaches, tournament officials, and school administrators.

8.       The conduct of all critique participants must adhere to the rules of conduct of the KSHSAA and the NCFL.  Behavior contrary to these rules is subject to sanction by the tournament director and/or administering organizations.

9.       Students and/or coaches may question the judge administering the critique for clarification, but may not use the questioning practice to challenge the judge’s decision.  Confrontation of the judge under these conditions may be subject to administrative sanction pursuant to Section 8 of the KSHSAA bylaws.  Judges may choose to cut short their critique for this or any other reason, with no penalty applied to a judge who does so; again, the critiques are a courtesy for the participating teams, not a requirement.

10.   No individual critique may take longer than ten minutes exclusive of q/a.  All critiques must be concluded within 150 minutes of the scheduled start time of the round.

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I don't know any coaches who would have a problem with any of Mr. Dubois' standards of oral critique. The problem is, they just wouldn't be followed, or at least the perception they wouldn't be would keep adoption from occuring. There isn't a single comment that can be made that would make the coaching community feel at peace that rules of orals would now be set and stone and never violated.


The idea of oral critiques are great, they have a lot of educational and competitive merit. They also have educational and competitive negatives, and the ability to screw up tourney schedules. ( I will pre-empt)

"They also have educational and competitive negatives, and the ability to screw up tourney schedules"

insert someones comments along the lines of, :but one negative oral, or schedule failure shouldn't ruin it for the rest of us!", and, "I just fail to see that anyone would ever give "bad" comments or criticism that would hurt education or competition!"


Agree to disagree, but any one negative experience can/has already tainted the view or orals in the minds of some coaches. And thats all it takes. This comes back to the idea that what we all feel "good" debate is, just can't be the same. I have incredible reguard for my peers in the coaching field, but to assume that we feel that what good debate is should be shared is incorrect. I will only speak for myself, and hopefully my relationships with these individuals will show that none of this is negative in any way. Megan at El Do, Mrs. Fellers at W-East, Kelly at Hutch, Zuckerman at BVSW, Lynn at Kapaun. Just to name a few individuals who I think are great coaches, and I want to emulate many things about them. But their perspective of what debate is and mine are not all the same, and in fact for some on the list to see my idea, and there idea of what debate is next to each other would laugh. Not bad, but different.


This last paragraph may have seemed like a tangent but it really isn't. To steal a debate term you youngsters use, it's a framing issue. You can't get to a final shared outcome like orals are or are not allowed for all!, until you realize what type of agreement that would take on the part of the coaching community.


I have had good and bad experiences debating, and coaching as far as orals go, and yes I and speaking for only me. I belive  the positives outweigh the negatives especially at the very top of our debater community, however, I know other's who have had bad experiences, and overall just plain don't like the possible negatives. It is hard to listen to a judge give an oral that for lack of better words, is "bad". We have all been there, hearing somone fubmle over a decision, feeling pressure to justify the ballot, and in the end you have one team that feels justified, and another that feels cheated. And the truth is, that doesn't even change when the oral critique is "good". Not to mention the educational benifit of the oral assumes the teams in the room can listen, digest the info, and then use it at a later time, which again not to be mean but only has even a chance of working at the tip top of the high school debate community. (IE most of you who respond to this site anyway. My E team isn't exactly trolling Cross-ex looking to get better at debate, nor should they, and speaking for my team the oral falls on closed ears)


Long story short, you can vent about your frustration as being good debaters, and wanting to hear good judges give good advice to be better at your shared understanding of good debate, and not getting it at a number of tournament including CFL. But if you want to get a judges opinion, you can probably find them some other way or time, and get the education anyway without structured post round oral criticisms that would upset at least some of the coaching community whether fair or not.


And if this entire thread doesn't apply to you, then you are in the majority, and quicker tournaments, without hearing how some team face  crushed you after the round to relive the trauma from moments earlier, with coaches not being angry about differing opinions of debate, and "ruining" their interpretations of good debate, without judges and debaters arguing about what their warrent of their card really is, and why the judge didn't correctly pull that across to answer the disad, while the judge is mad the aff didn't extend their internal that the aff solved back the disad and should have given them an easy way out but now "I had to do work for soemone, and it wasn't you."... etc... is probably the status quo in Kansas High School Debate, and not going anywhere, even if it "should."

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In fairness, it's not as though the proposals here are being offered as changes to the KSHSAA manual.   This thread concerns a single tournament administered by a small subsection of the Kansas coaching community, and with a different prevailing standard that that which tends to hold hegemony elsewhere.

I don't think anyone involved in this district has any illusion that oral critiques will make everybody happy.  But then again, not everybody's happy now.  The question we're facing, in my view, is whether a majority of coaches can be cobbled together to support a limited good-faith experiment, and under what conditions.

What modifications would people like to see in the standards suggested above?  And would you be supportive of administrative action to enforce the level of decorum required by these standards, or is that just going to create tantrums?  If so, we'd be better off not going down this road at all.

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