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October 2015  

The leaves are falling, weekends are filling up with soccer, football, and pumpkins, and Fall Session Debate Clubs have begun!

Several years ago, our friends at the University of Washington Speech and Debate Club visited our clubs to give a demonstration to the kids of how they might argue the resolution School Should Be In Session Year Round. The kids were happy to see that college level debating followed much the same format as their own: one side presents the affirmative, the other side presents the negative, back and forth until all debaters have had a chance to speak. 

A few were surprised to find out afterwards that the UW debaters did not necessarily believe the side of the argument which they presented. How can this be? "How can you argue for something you don't really believe?" they asked. Great question. The UW students told us that oftentimes it is easier to debate the opposite side of your own true beliefs. Why? Because doing so helps you to focus on using your evidence to build some very strong reasoning without emotion attached. And, because you already have a good understanding of the other side, you can pretty easily anticipate the opposition's arguments and plan how to respond to them.

You can try this it at home the next time your natural debater insists that they need the latest and greatest iDevice, or that they really must stay up late to watch something on tv... reverse roles and have them play the part of YOU to anticipate your objections.

Pretty soon "Mom, I need to watch this show tonight because all my friends are watching it," becomes "Mom, I know that my bedtime is before this show comes on, but I have gotten up and been ready to leave for school at least a half an hour early every day so far this year. Which means that if you let me stay up tonight to watch this program, I will still have plenty of time to get ready in the morning, even if I do end up sleeping in a little longer tomorrow.

You might have to work a little harder to stand your ground!

Margot & Elizabeth
Founders, DebateAble

Check this out from - Debate is a powerful tool!
Debate Skills 101
Listening - "You can't refute if you didn't hear what they said"

Listening is something we work on in debate club. Here are a few things we teach the kids:
  • Be fully in the moment when someone is talking - If you find yourself getting distracted, maybe the person next to you is moving around, try closing your eyes so you can focus only on what is being said.
  • Be Ready to Teach. - Instead of jumping ahead in your mind to what you will be saying when it is your turn to talk, pretend that it is your job to take what you are hearing and explain or teach it to someone else. 
  • Wait - for the speaker to pause before you ask a question. This is natural in a debate match because of the flow of speeches, but practice waiting when you listen to anyone at all. Hear everything they have to say and wait for them to stop talking for a moment before you ask your question or respond. 

October DEBATE THIS! topic
Halloween costumes should not be allowed at my elementary 
school's Fall party.

Can you debate the Affirmative and Negative sides of this topic? Let these arguments get you started ...

"Class parties in school already reduce instructional time. Allowing students to take the time to change into their Halloween costumes is a waste of time because it will either make learning time even less that day, or will make the party shorter. 
"My classmates and I work hard on our costumes and we want to be able to show our creative work to our friends at our class party."

Every month we will throw out a topic to debate at the dinner table or in the car. Practice the skills your kids learned in debate club. Try taking the side you are least passionate about - it makes it more challenging!

Want to see debate at your school? 
We can help - contact us to find out how to make it happen!

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