How does an ongoing club integrate new members?
We have a series of activities, videos, and take-home work for new members to get them caught up on the basics. Typically new members are able to jump right into impromptu sparring debates (at which they will improve, with experience), and of course games don’t require special experience.
How do members prepare for their debates?
Much of a debater’s success is based on the preparation that goes in before the debate begins. In sparring that often means quick thinking and creativity. For debates prepared between meetings, success usually hinges on research, strong arguments with evidence, anticipation of the opponents’ arguments, and a compelling explanation for how the debate should be judged.
We teach members to examine the resolution, determine the issues at play, structure arguments and rebuttals, plan for effective cross-examination, conduct evidence research, crystallize/summarize the state of a debate, cite impacts, learn how to identify and combat logical fallacies, and understand the elements of judging.
Why do you say Debate League clubs are “recreational”?
While members learn key elements and techniques of debate, at Debate League it is not the all-consuming activity it can be with school programs, and the like.
Here are four reasons why Debate League “recreational” debate can be the right choice for a child:
- Most school programs involve 10-20 (or more) hours per month with afterschool meetings and at-home prep. Debate League clubs meet only weekly or twice per month for 90-minutes each, and between-meeting prep might be 1-3 hours, giving your child more time for their other activities.
- Many school programs involve preparing for that month’s nationally-assigned debate topic. The topics are often heavy and have limited interest to youngsters. For example two options for September 2018 are Resolved: The United States should accede to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea without reservations, and Resolved: The United States should end its arms sales to Taiwan. At Debate League the kids get to choose from a long list of topics that will interest them, making them more likely to put in the effort to do well.
- Most school programs end up focusing on preparing the top debaters on their teams for regional tournaments, leaving novice debaters to fend for themselves. At Debate League, it is common for every member to debate at every meeting and receive feedback from the coach.
- Most school programs involve expensive travel to competitions. At Debate League we encourage dues that are reasonable and the members compete on fun topics at every meeting. Inter-club tournaments are available at many SLAM (Speakers League Annual Meet) conferences.