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USDEBATE  May 2013

USDEBATE May 2013

Subject:

Re: Disappointed

From:

Jaime Wright <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

USA Debating in the WUDC Format <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Fri, 3 May 2013 16:03:24 -0400

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (575 lines)

Eric: My argument in the IDEA adjudication book coming out this summer is
your experiment. So Cool! I look forward to hearing the results from your
panels.

Jaime Lane Wright, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Rhetoric, Communication & Theatre
St. John's University
8000 Utopia Parkway
Queens, NY 11439

Office: 718-990-5607
Cell: 512-799-6642
Fax: 718-990-2435
email: [log in to unmask], [log in to unmask]




On 5/3/13 1:16 PM, "Barnes, R Eric" <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

>Despite my likely philosophical bias against empirical data, I am
>inclined to think that an experiment would help us shed light on the
>discussion about the deviation of BP judging panels from what real
>intelligent people would think about rounds.  I've talked about this with
>some people on my team and we would like to set up an experiment at the
>Round Robin next year that went something like this.
>
>Each room would contain two panels of judges.  One would be the regular
>panel or RR judges and the other would be a group of three professors,
>high achieving students from HWS, and perhaps well-educated members of
>the community.  (Details of this selection process would need to be
>worked out.)  The panels would adjudicate separately and we could then
>compare the results at the end of the tournament.  (We would try to
>shield the different groups of panelists from learning each other's
>decisions.)  This would give us 20 rounds worth of data.  It would
>include an internationally diverse set of teams.  These would be skewed
>toward teams that have been very successful competitively, so the sample
>would be biased in that respect, but I'm not sure that this is a major
>problem.  It would actually help avoid rounds where there is so much
>confusion that it is hard to tell what is being said.  The comparison
>would be between the decisions rendered by panels composed of many of the
>top !
> judges in the world (with somewhat more from North America), versus the
>decisions rendered by panels of smart and educated people with no
>background in debate (mostly from the US).
>
>It would be a bit of work to pull this together, partly because I'd
>almost certainly need to get IRB approval to do it, so my questions for
>you are:
>
>1) Do people think that it would be a worthwhile experiment?
>
>2) Presumably, the "community judges" would need to receive a briefing on
>judging, but we would try to make this fairly minimal.  For example,
>you'd need to explain that knifing was not allowed, but I don't think
>you'd want to say too much about speaker roles.  What should be in the
>briefing?
>
>3) The area around HWS is quite conservative, so including people from
>the surrounding area would bring in more conservative ideology to the
>panels, but I'm not clear that this is a desirable variable to introduce
>at this stage.  So, should we recruit people from outside of the academic
>community?
>
>4) What are other problems or concerns that I haven't mentioned?
>
>Thanks,
>Eric
>
>******************************************
>Eric Barnes
>Hobart and William Smith Colleges
>Philosophy Department
>Public Policy Program
>Debate Coach
>(315) 781-3182
>[log in to unmask]<mailto:[log in to unmask]>
>
>On May 3, 2013, at 10:39 AM, Stephen Llano wrote:
>
>I think Mary is right that professionalized debate is the variable here,
>and she might be right that this is the cause of the technocratic shifts
>in American and American adopted debating formats. Not sure if the
>student run solution would work considering that the move I'm questioning
>was made by volunteers organizing the WUDC and the council as well. These
>volunteers are not American professionals, at least to my knowledge, so I
>wonder if associating the issue as an American one helps figure out how
>this trend toward the more technical side of the art happens. I have a
>quote somewhere around here from one of the first professional debate
>coaches to use techniques such as speaking fast and directly addressing
>how the notes should be written ("flowing") after his team won doing
>these then controversial moves. He was unapologetic and cited winning
>debates as the goal of his efforts.
>
>Buzz's question might be a good way to start thinking about the
>historical forces shaping the discourse of and about debating. In the US,
>our analogue for all formats has always been the expert audience - even
>in the earliest days of debating the audiences and judges were supposed
>to be "learned" folks, often in positions of power in the community, and
>the analogy of debate was always an uncritical connection to how
>argumentation is practiced in law.  Considering US governments are most
>always composed of people with training in legal discourse in the
>majority, Americans might imagine the "best" argument to look like this.
>Compare that to the UK where the analogue for excellent speaking is
>Parliament. This is why Gladstone and Churchill are revered as speakers
>there, and here we have people like Lincoln, Darrow, and others who were
>trained as professional advocates within the discourse of the law. It
>could explain how we culturally shape the nature of "good argumentation"
>ev!
> en before we begin to think of it as such.
>
>Also those who are interested in continuing this conversation, should we
>move it to the forum? Mary has a good point there too although I think
>there are a lot of practicing debate students who lurk on this list I bet.
>
>Steve
>
>
>On Thu, May 2, 2013 at 9:21 PM, Mary Nugent
><[log in to unmask]<mailto:[log in to unmask]>> wrote:
>Re: the uniqueness of this in the US, I think it's largely due to the
>professionalisation of the activity (an observation I draw both from my
>experience in various debate circuits, and thinking logically about the
>variable that is present in so many US BP schools and not anywhere else
>in the world). The tendency to speed up or become more technical doesn't
>occur to you until you've been in the activity quite a while (indeed, it
>seems a strange idea for those starting out). That is not to say I am
>against the presence of coaches and a 'professional' world of debate
>(indeed, some might argue I have benefitted from such a phenomena in the
>past!), I think there are a *lot* of advantages to there being a lot more
>money in debate in the USA compared to other countries - it reaches more
>people, tends to be better organised, is more aware of the need to make
>it educational, and there is less of a problem with substance abuse,
>amongst other things. But I do think the presence of peop!
> le in the activity for a long time, and the (at times professional)
>incentive they find a competitive advantage contributes to some of these
>problems.
>
>I think the biggest way to help combat this tendency is to encourage as
>much student leadership and involvement as far as practically possible.
>In particular, I think there should be more current and recent debaters
>acting as judges, CA and DCAing tournaments, and taking leading roles in
>debate societies and the organisation/running of practices. In general,
>those who have been in the activity for less time tend to less likely to
>over use jargon and technique, and their judgement is probably closer to
>the 'average voter' standard we all seem to want to be meeting. I think
>it's a shame, for example, that this discussion is taking place on email
>list to which few actual current debaters are subscribed - is it not a
>little odd that this activity is being discussed in the absence of those
>who are currently participating? Perhaps it should be shifted to the new
>BP forum, which could be easily advertised to current students so they
>can have their say about what they want the activ!
> ity to look like.
>
>And finally (in light of my above criticism, I had intended to avoid
>weighing in since my opinion should hold little sway..), I do want to
>chime in briefly in defence of 'competitiveness'. I really do think, even
>in its current somewhat imperfect form, that BP debating is a wonderful
>activity, and those that succeed in it are producing excellent products
>of rhetoric, if that's the right phrase. When I was teaching an intro
>speech class, the debates I used were all WUDC outrounds, and barring a
>few jargon things that had to be translated (and they got used to pretty
>quickly), my students were consistently impressed and inspired. Further,
>I know I learnt so much from really good and experienced debaters when I
>debated at tournaments, and that the students I have coached have found
>the same, and I've seen considerable growth in debaters from competing in
>tournaments with teams with a lot of previous competitive success - in
>terms of  things such as their intellect, style, criti!
> cal thinking, strategy in speaking. I guess what I'm saying is that,
>when it comes to Worlds reg, I don't think pursuing a goal of competitive
>success (as measured by previous success) in registration is
>contradictory to pursuing a goals of education and developing and
>improving the format and activity - indeed, I think quite the opposite is
>true, and we all learn and improve in really positive ways. I also think
>the variation in geography, format background, and speaking style of the
>teams breaking at Worlds the last few years suggests to me that the goal
>of 'diversity' is (in part at least) also being met by the, I think
>extremely sensible, WUDC reg reforms.
>
>Best,
>Mary
>
>
>
>
>On 2 May 2013 20:58, Buzz Klinger
><[log in to unmask]<mailto:[log in to unmask]>> wrote:
>One thing that crossed my mind as I read Colin's email was the apparent
>uniqueness of this problem to American circuits.
>
>I'm no where near versed enough in the  history of debate circuits in the
>US to know all the details, but it does seem (a many others have noted)
>that formats invented or adopted by Americans tend to slide towards more
>"policy-esque" habits over time. But it also seems to be a problem that
>uniquely afflicts us. Looking around the world, it doesn't appear to be
>the case that other circuits struggle with this rush towards towards less
>acceptable practices.
>
>It might be worthwhile to think about/inquire a to how other debate
>cultures manage this feat.
>
>
>On May 2, 2013, at 20:26, Colin Murphy
><[log in to unmask]<mailto:[log in to unmask]>> wrote:
>
>
>I think this discussion really comes down to one question: What kind of
>debate experience are we looking for? Do we want to emphasize the
>competition, the education or the discourse (or something else)? I
>understand that there are multiple goals of debate, but at some point you
>must either say "our priority is X...." or you end up in an impossible
>balancing act.
>
>
>
>I'll throw my opinion out there first. Of those three poles, competition,
>education and discourse, with the understanding that this is a
>competitive event, I think we should probably reject changes to the event
>that advance competitive goals at the expense of discourse and education.
>This is a difficult thing to say because I found deep satisfaction with
>the competition as both a debater and coach, but I think that there are
>fundamental flaws that come with an emphasis on competition that make it
>difficult to reconcile with the kind of debate we'd all be happy with. I
>was part of NPDA when it began its slide into policy-based insanity. The
>main problem is that competitive concerns came to dominate everything
>else. From a competitive standpoint, saying more words generally provides
>an advantage, so speed became the norm. Having very specific rules about
>what is and isn't considered "good" debate generally helps achieve
>competitive goals by increasing the consistency with whic!
> h "good" teams tend to win rounds, but it leads to a narrow range of
>acceptable styles. An emphasis on structure and tabula rasa judging means
>that rounds are often decided on more "objective" criteria, but the
>quality of debate, as it applies to the real world goes down because
>judges cannot reject ridiculous arguments on the grounds that they're
>ridiculous. An emphasis on competition seems to be empirically
>incompatible with maintaining an approachable, broadly relevant style of
>debate (granted my empirics have a sample size of about siz circuits, two
>of them turned into policy). CEDA and NPDA, as they matured, tended to
>emphasize the competitive aspects of debate. Their slide towards speed,
>technique and theory seems a fairly natural result of an emphasis on
>competitive "quality". The people who started NPDA and CEDA were smart,
>thoughtful people with a strong grasp of communication, but despite their
>best efforts their debate style became in many ways, the antithesis of!
>  their original intent.
>
>
>
>This leads me to conclude that if there is a way to have a style of
>debate which maximizes its pursuit of competitive goals without
>eventually sacrificing education and/or discourse, we haven't figured out
>what it looks like yet. In the meantime, many of the things we do to
>improve competitive quality in the short term are likely to have
>troubling long-term impacts, or at least they did when they were
>introduced into CEDA/NPDA.
>
>As a result, I think we should be very critical of changes to our style
>that are done in the name of improving competition. Critical does not
>mean rejecting them out of hand, but it does mean subjecting them to a
>more intense scrutiny than those that have other goals. Worlds/BP differs
>from the American styles by making some structural decisions that
>emphasize education and discourse over competition, namely the emphasis
>on manner (which can't really be objectively defined), accepting the
>position bias introduced by four teams and requiring judges to make
>subjective evaluations of an argument's quality. I would argue that each
>of these features serves a useful purpose. Worlds/BP is imperfect, but it
>tends to protect the qualities most of us want from a debate event, while
>still allowing a competitive experience, imperfect as that may be.
>
>
>
>I raise the point for two reasons. First, I think that Chennai's use of
>competitive history as a method of assigning slots is troubling, though I
>confess, all the alternatives I can think of are arbitrary in some other
>way, so I'm not going to plant a flag on either side of that argument (we
>can't afford to go anyway). More importantly, I have also seen some
>changes in Worlds/BP debate in the U.S. over the last few years. I don't
>think they're all bad, but I do think that we, a group of people who love
>and care for the event, should probably have a better idea what we want
>this style of debate to be, are as a prelude to the discussion of whether
>recent changes are, in fact, problematic.
>
>
>
>-----Original Message-----
>
>From: USA Debating in the WUDC Format
>[mailto:[log in to unmask]<mailto:[log in to unmask]>] On Behalf Of
>Jaime Wright
>
>Sent: Wednesday, May 01, 2013 6:22 AM
>
>To: [log in to unmask]<mailto:[log in to unmask]>
>
>Subject: Re: Disapointed
>
>
>
>I said this to Steve yesterday (not for the first time, actually), and
>I'll say it to yall today. An easy and ethical solution to all of these
>issues lives in the form and presentation of the "Adjudication Briefing."
>All we need to do is stop saying that a "good" debate should be
>watchable/judgable by a "reasonable, fairly well-informed
>voter/person/citizen." Instead, when we do these briefings, we should be
>clear with each other and with our debaters that winning debaters must
>know how to persuade other winning debaters--people who have some sort of
>expertise in the language and format of debate. This is what I tell my
>students. An excellent example of this happened during the sixth round at
>USU (wonderful tournament, btw) this year. The president of the
>university sat in on the judging panel for one of the "top" rounds, and
>her decisions were different from the decisions of most of the rest of
>the panel, as were her reasons for those decisions. In the language of
>the adjud!
>
> ication discussion, the debate experts informed her that the winning
>team should adhere to certain rules of the game and that the manner/style
>of the teams didn't matter so much as their dedication to the specific
>world created by that particular round. These winning debaters know that
>they should be persuading the other debaters--not the presidents of
>universities (unless, of course, they are also former debaters).
>
>
>
>And it's fine to be good at talking to a small group of people who share
>your background, experiences, language, and interests. We should just be
>very clear--with ourselves and with our students--that BP debate, like
>most other forms of debate, is a rhetoric of enclaves and experts. This
>is not a layperson format anymore, if it ever really was.
>
>
>
>-Jaime
>
>_______________________________________
>
>From: USA Debating in the WUDC Format
>[[log in to unmask]<mailto:[log in to unmask]>] On Behalf Of
>Stephen Llano [[log in to unmask]<mailto:[log in to unmask]>]
>
>Sent: Tuesday, April 30, 2013 12:48 PM
>
>To: [log in to unmask]<mailto:[log in to unmask]>
>
>Subject: Disapointed
>
>
>
>Colleagues and Friends,
>
>
>
>I have been sitting on writing this for a long time, but today my feeling
>of disappointment has driven me to ask a few questions to those of you on
>this list.
>
>
>
>Since the posting about the changes to WUDC registration were shared
>here, there have only been two responses, and neither of them more than
>just technical questions about the nature of the registration system
>changes.
>
>
>
>Where is the critical discussion about what these changes mean for our
>students?
>
>
>
>From my vantage point, as someone who has gone from thrilled with WUDC to
>someone who no longer wants to be a participant in it, these changes make
>me want to be an active opponent to WUDC.
>
>
>
>When I first became involved in WUDC in 2007 I thought its greatest
>strength was in the diversity of views as to what a good argument could
>be. I thought it to be an amazing experience for my students and myself
>to encounter such a variety of different styles and approaches to
>rhetoric, argumentation, and persuasion. My recent reticence in future
>participation was not because of quality, but more because of safety and
>financial concerns.
>
>
>
>Now it appears that WUDC wants to throw away quality in favor of a
>faux-quality: A positive feedback loop of people who speak the "right
>way" perpetuating a very particular kind of speech being rewarded with
>more participants who also speak in that "right way."
>
>
>
>This feedback loop will be accentuated by the fact that judges will also
>be increased from those institutions that demonstrate they can speak in
>the appropriate code to reach elimination rounds. WUDC council has made
>it very clear that they are not interested in a broad range of ways of
>speaking and arguing, but a very narrow band view of this. Their annual
>tournament will serve as the gatekeeper for who gets to participate in
>this competition.
>
>
>
>It amazes me that on an email list that includes those who saw the
>decline of NDT and NPDA from broad based organizations to those that try
>to eliminate diversity of discourse in the same way, people have remained
>silent.  Not even one word of critical questioning or examination has
>been posted about these changes.  Questions need to be discussed, such
>as: What is the difference between this change and mutually preferred
>judging in NDT/CEDA? Why should WUDC have a system of participation that
>reminds us more of the NPTE than our own USU nationals?
>
>
>
>But the American debate educators have remained silent.  The wisdom of so
>many years of participation in different formats and the eventual
>abandoning of those formats in favor of BP and WUDC have not inspired any
>of you to write one single line of questioning in response to Michael's
>emails. This is the root of my disappointment.
>
>
>
>Years ago, I asked the question to many British debaters: What is the
>value of having a professional coach or debate director? What is the
>value added of such a figure? Most debaters in the world don't have one,
>and they do quite well competitively. Most did not have a response, and
>weren't sure.  I thought it was a very pressing question. The only
>response I could think of that made any sense was the injection of the
>pedagogical dimension to debating. If there is something Americans can
>bring to the party, it would be that key element - to help people
>recognize that every move they make in the debate universe is a
>pedagogical one. There are serious implications to every adjudication and
>every comment that is ignored or rewarded in every debate. We are
>constantly teaching, and reinforcing, lessons provided by and through
>language. This hopefully has some spillover effect into their daily lives
>when they encounter other people. The result would (hopefully) be
>kindness, patien!
>
> ce, understanding - all concepts brought about by a healthy sense of
>uncertainty of the self. Debate provides this uncertainty all too often,
>which is the source of it's value for Universities.
>
>
>
>The narrow band reward-those-who-are-rewarded-already registration system
>is pedagogically bankrupt if we are really still interested in this whole
>"reasonable person" judging philosophy, which I already question as a
>principle for a lot of reasons based on a lot of my own judging
>experiences. WUDC seems to now feel very comfortable totally abandoning
>this principle in favor of one where those who have proved expertise in
>persuading the imaginary reasonable person now get more opportunities to
>do the same, in front of those who also believe they know what the
>imaginary reasonable person wants. We are talking to one another
>imagining that we are appealing and representing a broader based
>intellectual community.
>
>
>
>We are teaching ourselves and one another how to appeal in a vanguard
>discourse to those who love this vanguard discourse, not "reasonable
>people." It seems a shame that I have to struggle to find a WUDC video on
>the internet that I can show to public speaking students or beginning
>debate students that they can even begin to understand. Our speeches are
>becoming appeals to a particular elite, and this decision from WUDC
>further refines who can be in that elite. As discourse training for and
>by elites, we are far away from encouraging an attitude among
>participants that would be much other than cynical disgust for the
>rhetorical and argumentative strategies of those outside the elite; a
>worldview that encourages seeing the discourse of the non-elite as
>automatically flawed, bad, and not worthy of engagement. Debate teaches
>us to be good arguers - the best, right?  Actually, debate like this just
>teaches us to be good debaters, full stop.
>
>
>
>It really depends on how you say it: Instead of WORLD Universities
>Debating Championship, the emphasis now seems to be on World Universities
>Debating CHAMPIONSHIP. Another question arises: How can someone be world
>champion in debating for reasonable people when the participants are hand
>selected based on their institution's success at previous competitions?
>Where is the door for those who are new, who are reasonable, and want to
>argue and judge?
>
>
>
>When I first started participating in the WUDC universe, I was assured
>this style of debating would not fall into the pits of the previous US
>formats. I was assured by many of you reading this that "the world will
>check" the US inclination to become highly technical, highly cloistered,
>and highly specific in style. Nobody who has said that to me has
>responded with any critical questions to this decision.  This would amaze
>me if it weren't so disappointing.  Who is going to check the world when
>they make decisions like this one?  Here we go again. This is the first
>step into creating another inaccessible and limited debating format.
>
>
>
>Where are the debate educators now? Or have you given up the project of
>showing students how hard it is to reach the mind of another in favor of
>earning more trophies and accolades? Perhaps you feel like the decision
>is fine because your teams will not be impacted by the registration
>procedure. The temptation is pretty strong to say, "We can win under this
>rubric." But nobody has asked the question, "Who loses?"
>
>
>
>This doesn't effect me, as I said before. I'm out of the WUDC game, but
>not out of BP and debate and the wonderful powers they provide in
>teaching people amazing things. WUDC wants to limit themselves to an
>elite.  We here in the US have seen what this does to debate
>participation. But not to worry.  Just because there is a yacht club it
>doesn't mean that boating is going away.  WUDC doesn't realize that
>competitors to their monopoly will quickly arise with the rise of Chinese
>debating and North American debating as more American schools join the BP
>ranks.  Alternatives to WUDC will arise, including what I'm doing -
>taking my students to other tournaments.
>
>
>
>Who should a world champion appeal to? Others in the elite club? Society
>in general? University communities? Reasonable people? their peers and
>colleagues? Scholars of argumentation?
>
>
>
>Or perhaps the idea of world champion is best left as a ruse to get
>people talking to one another and thinking about how difficult that
>talking - and understanding that talking - is for human beings.
>
>
>
>Your friend and colleague,
>
>Steve
>
>--
>
>_____
>
>Stephen Llano, Ph.D.
>
>Director of Debate and Assistant Professor, Department of Rhetoric,
>Communication & Theater St. Johnıs University Queens, NY
>
>718-990-5606<tel:718-990-5606>(voice) 718-990-2435<tel:718-990-2435> (fax)
>
>callto://stevellano -- Skype Me!
>
>
>
>"Knit the brows, and a strategem comes to mind." - Lo Kuan-chung, Romance
>of the Three Kingdoms.
>
>
>
>"Poetry is a rival government always in opposition to its cruder
>replicas." - William Carlos Williams
>
>
>
>
>--
>_____
>Stephen Llano, Ph.D.
>Director of Debate and Assistant Professor, Department of Rhetoric,
>Communication & Theater
>St. Johnıs University
>Queens, NY
>718-990-5606(voice) 718-990-2435 (fax)
>callto://stevellano -- Skype Me!
>
>"Knit the brows, and a strategem comes to mind." - Lo Kuan-chung, Romance
>of the Three Kingdoms.
>
>"Poetry is a rival government always in opposition to its cruder
>replicas." - William Carlos Williams

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