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AlisonPotter

College Debate

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Hey y'all, 

 

I'm a hs senior in Missouri right now, but I am intending on going to K-State in the fall to debate for them. As many of y'all know, Missouri is not the most progressive state for debate and although I have more experience with kritikal debate than most in my specific region (mostly fem and american exceptionalism/imperialism, but have experience in cap, speaking for others/various discourse kritiks, and rights malthus), I know that I am still behind in that area.

 

What could I do to catch up so I am somewhat ready for college debate in the fall during the summer not just in terms of k-debate, but in other areas that you all in college had to work on before getting a grasp of things. Or specific mistakes to avoid in college debate/things to get familiar with. 

 

Thanks for anything/everything! 

Edited by AlisonPotter
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full disclosure: I don't do college policy debate, but there are some things that I have noticed that might be helpful

 

First, the competition level in college is going to be higher, since there are less squads and the debaters who tend to continue in college tend to be the most dedicated to the activity. This means that round difficulty will go up, so be prepared to debate at a higher level all the time, even in prelims. 

 

Second, since it sounds like you want to be a K debater, pick a few kritiks (it sounds like you already have some in mind) and go deep in the lit on them over summer. That will help you because 2AC K answers in college are going to be better than your average high schoolers' 2AC K answers- you will need to go more in-depth in the block on the K and you will need to understand the lit at a deeper level in order to be able to apply it properly and beat back arguments. 

 

Third, you should get used to the longer speech times and extra prep time. It may not seem like much, but the extra speech time generally means that more issues will be covered in the debate (i.e. more arguments on one page or more off read). The extra prep time helps with dealing with this, and also allows you to either come up with more arguments or to pull more cards for a frontline. 

 

Fourth, get used to the stark policy-K divide in college. In high school right now that divide is sort of blurring with more and more teams becoming "hybrid" teams that can do both policy and K debate; but in college that hybridization has not really occurred on a large scale level for a number of reasons (team structure, coaches in the activity, judges)- as a result, if teams from either side of the divide hit each other, the round is likely to get messy/heated because both sides stick to their guns (policy aff w/preempts and FW; or K's and more K's)

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Fourth, get used to the stark policy-K divide in college. In high school right now that divide is sort of blurring with more and more teams becoming "hybrid" teams that can do both policy and K debate; but in college that hybridization has not really occurred on a large scale level for a number of reasons (team structure, coaches in the activity, judges)- as a result, if teams from either side of the divide hit each other, the round is likely to get messy/heated because both sides stick to their guns (policy aff w/preempts and FW; or K's and more K's)

 

I'm jumping into the college game next year as well, and this aspect is not something i'm looking forward to

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I'm jumping into the college game next year as well, and this aspect is not something i'm looking forward to

it's really shocking if you think about it- the high school game seems to reward argument flexibility whereas in the college game it seems that the opposite is true- argument rigidity is rewarded (i.e. how good can you get at only policy or only K). That doesn't seem like a good model of debate because it creates argument polarization, creates confirmation biases within each group, and creates unresolvable debates that almost have to be decided by judge intervention or judge argument preference (i.e. is judge a policy hack or a K hack)--how can a debate between a "hard left" kritik and a "hard right" policy aff be resolved because the claims embedded within each of these arguments don't interact with each other, but rather talk past each other since there's no common stasis point to start from (i.e. a set of assumptions that lays the foundation for the debate's argumentation, how arguments are supposed to interact, and what filters the judges use for the debate). The debate thus devolves into who wins the stasis point debate, at which point that can't be resolved cleanly either because warrants for a K only round or for a policy only round don't interact with each other either, leading to more judge intervention based upon argument preference and pre-dispositions. 

Contrast that with an argument flexibility approach which allows this messiness to be avoided completely since both teams can adapt to the conditions of the round.

For example, if the aff team decides to play music to create an aesthetic performance and reads evidence for why performative actions are good; a flexible negative team could then stand up and either do a counter-performance of some sort or could read a kritik of performance itself- that way there is a common stasis point and set of assumptions for the round to be resolved around, such that arguments can be lined up against each other, and then evaluated against each other since the warrants and claims would be interacting with each other, not going past each other.

Another example of flexibility would be say the aff team reads a policy aff on the china topic about ending uyghur oppression in xinjiang, a flexible negative team would have multiple options- they could read solvency arguments, DA's with links to us action, DA's with links to china action, they could read a counterplan or alternate method to helping the uyghurs, or they could read a critique of either US action, or a critique of institutions giving aid--again there is a common stasis point for the debate to occur, allowing arguments to be resolved without judge intervention as the questions of the debate revolve around a resolvable question. Rigidity is inferior in this instance because it would either devolve into an irresolvable question that requires judge intervention, or it would devolve into some sort of FW-esque argument (something along the lines of plan focus bad, or may not read non-existential impacts) which would not necessarily create good debates because those arguments can't be proven (i.e. we can't definitively say plan focus is good or bad, nor can we say you must read existential impacts or you may not read existential impacts- those questions cannot be adequately resolved within the span of a debate round to the point where potential questions from debaters can be answered well)

 

tldr: argument flexibility is better than argument rigidity, baffling that college community hasn't embraced flexibility

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it's really shocking if you think about it- the high school game seems to reward argument flexibility whereas in the college game it seems that the opposite is true- argument rigidity is rewarded (i.e. how good can you get at only policy or only K). That doesn't seem like a good model of debate because it creates argument polarization, creates confirmation biases within each group, and creates unresolvable debates that almost have to be decided by judge intervention or judge argument preference (i.e. is judge a policy hack or a K hack)--how can a debate between a "hard left" kritik and a "hard right" policy aff be resolved because the claims embedded within each of these arguments don't interact with each other, but rather talk past each other since there's no common stasis point to start from (i.e. a set of assumptions that lays the foundation for the debate's argumentation, how arguments are supposed to interact, and what filters the judges use for the debate). The debate thus devolves into who wins the stasis point debate, at which point that can't be resolved cleanly either because warrants for a K only round or for a policy only round don't interact with each other either, leading to more judge intervention based upon argument preference and pre-dispositions.

 

I love your post, but I will argue that debating about how debate should work is not inherently bad - there is room for intelligent clash and argumentation about the (un)desirability of different pedagogical structures. I have seen excellent, evidence-based Framework debates that stood up without judge intervention, rare though they may have been, and excluding that education seems to be throwing the baby out with the bathwater. It seems to me that a mindset of flexibility would enable a Negative team to challenge the Affirmative on both Framework and the substance of the case itself.

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