Trivium Pursuit

Homeschool Speech and Debate Discussion Loop 2

Archives Page Two

Date: Sun, 24 May 1998

Yes, you can put my name on the web page as a Peoria, IL site contact. We don't have anything going as yet, but I am getting some queries and interest from about 5 or 6 families.

Cindy Steinwedel


Date: Mon, 25 May 1998

I have only recently become involved in home-school debating at the behest of several home-schooling parents. I debated throughout high school (public) and college. Since that time, my parents have begun home-schooling my younger two siblings. Last month I became aware of HSLDA's tournament and judged at an open Mississippi tournament. I will be judging in the national tournament in Virginia, and also coaching both of Mississippi's teams that will be represented their. If it would not be two much trouble I would like to be added to the Mississippi section of you State by State Information on Debate for future accessibility of other home-schooler's and their parent's.

Michael DeViney, Jr., 509 Southern Avenue, Hattiesburg, MS 39401


From: "Lisa C. Kanak"

Subject: NFL & Homeschool debate

Date: Wed, 27 May 1998

>Date: Fri, 22 May 1998

From: Shawn Rampy

Subject: HSLDA Debate vs Others

We will begin our families' involvement in Debate this coming year. Before we begin, however, I would ask your advice as to best use the time we spend in debate preparation. Specifically, should we plan on debating the '98-'99 HSLDA resolution or would it make more sense to research/debate the resolution that is adopted by virtually all the public and private schools nationally and participate in these NFL(?) events? Adopting the latter course, it seems to me, would provide us with numerous opportunities to actually debate while the former would, in essence, limit us to participating in 1 event in May. Am I missing something here?

Shawn Rampy <

Dear Shawn,

NFL does offer a great deal more competitive opportunities. Currently the closest HSLDA tournaments our local group would be able to attend are 6 hours away — not exactly practical. We are working on developing a larger network of competition, but we expect this will take a while to develop. In order to meet the needs and desires of the students and parents in our local area, we have developed a dual system. I will be working with some homeschoolers on the HSLDA debate topic, and I will also be coaching other homeschoolers in conjunction with a local private high school on the Russia topic.

There are a few differences between NFL Policy Debate and HSLDA debate other than the topic area. Most of the differences are stylistic in nature. Often times, these stylistic differences are fairly radical. There are also a greater variety of arguments (usually theory based) in NFL, and the rules for judging are more subjective. I'd like to address some issues the bluedorns mentioned in their response:

First, difficulty of competing. Many local tournaments will allow non-NFL-affiliated students/schools to participate in tournaments. They will not receive "points" for NFL ranking or awards purposes, but can still win speaker awards as well as place in tournaments. I have not come across any NFL material which excludes homeschoolers from participating in any way, but if you would like to ask more specific questions, you should e-mail the national office of NFL at I have also been informed that TeenPact — an organization sponsoring many homeschool tournaments will be encouraging homeschoolers to compete against public/private "traditional" schools in the '98-99 school year.

Second, costs of participation. The cost to participate in most local tournaments is relatively inexpensive (about $5 per student). Each team of two students needs "half" a judge. As far as I am aware, there are no rigid "rules" on judging — my mother, who had absolutely no experience whatsoever, judged at tournaments when I competed in high school. If there isn't anyone available who would like to judge, judging fees are usually around $15 per "whole" judge (for two teams). Furthermore, many schools will waive fees for small programs. Lastly, since there are usually several tournaments within close driving distance (here in Ft. Smith we have approximately 8), travel and food costs are kept very low.

Third, debating differently. It is true that NFL affiliated programs debate differently than homeschoolers. The differences are mainly stylistic in nature, and some of the argumentation is highly theoretical. The "fast talking" is usually regionally-based and found mainly in what are considered "top-notch debate schools." There is quite a debate raging at the college level about "fast talking" and its place in debate. The consensus seems to be that it's not necessarily the rate of speed one is talking, but the clarity of the speaker. For example, one student may sound "slow" when compared to another, but their words per minute (WPM) is essentially the same. The difference is clarity. I haven't found a judge yet who did not believe that clarity was more important than speed. Watching a fast-paced debate round can be a rather heady experience. It does take a little getting used to — but "fast talking" does not necessarily decrease the quality of debate. In fact, many would argue that it increases the quality of debate. There have also been several studies which have shown a correlation between fast speaking and increased cognitive abilities.

Fourth and last, socialization. Should you decide to subscribe to the "government school debate email loop" I hope you will keep in mind that the vast majority of the students who participate in debate are not represented by a good number those who post to the email loop. There are some debaters who are arrogant, use foul language, have little respect for authority or traditional Biblical values and their lives reflect this. Let me also say that in my experience (14 years), the great majority of debaters are well mannered (at least in public), usually well-dressed, outgoing, personable, and eager to meet new people. The coaches and judges likewise have always seemed warm and welcoming.

As a parent, you will have to make the decision about the risks allowing your students to mingle with youth having different religious and philosophical backgrounds — and sometimes worldviews radically different from your own. I believe that homeschoolers can succeed in debate against the "traditional" students. And, I also believe that homeschool students can participate in both the NFL and HSLDA styles of debate without much difficulty.

Lisa C. Kanak


Date: Thu, 28 May 1998

From: "Michael S. Rampy"

Subject: Re: HSLDA Debate vs Others

>2. Government schools debate differently than homeschoolers. They do the fast talking, they have different judging criteria. I suggest going to one or two government school debates to observe. One will probably be enough to convince you. And then there is the socialization issue. I would also suggest subscribing to the government school debate email loop. That will for sure convince you.

I have attended a local high school event and must admit that I find the "speed team" style very unattractive. A person that attempted this style of communicating their ideas in the "real" world would be considered more that a bit strange. (Think of the looks you would recieve if you went through a normal day with normal conversations with the single exception being that you are speaking at a rate of 2000wpm!) Why would I what to encourage my children to talk this way? So, am I to understand that HSLDA frowns on the use of this tactic?


HSLDA does not allow fast talking.


From: "Chris Jeub"

Subject: Re: Debating

Date: Fri, 29 May 1998

Dear Shawn Rampy-

I am a public school debate coach as well as a home schooling parent. I agree with the Bluedorns about the "socialization" paradox you would face if you debated within the public school system. However, you do pay taxes just like every other American to finance the public schools. If your district will allow home schoolers on the football team, basketball team, etc., then why not the debate team? You're not "missing" anything—you're being smart. The more you debate the topic, the more successful you will be. Hooking up with a public school debate team may be wise. Just watch out for the relativistic tendancies secular coaches may teach; it is common within debate.

-Chris Jeub

Wahpeton, ND


Date: Tue, 2 Jun 1998

Thank you for hosting the Speech and Debate Loop. I found it interesting from the point of view of debaters, or would-be debaters sharing information, as well as "experts" putting in their two cents worth (though they need to remain topical!) I was very pleased to meet you when you came up to Adele Weeks house in Racine. It seems like a lot of time has gone by since then, such has been the push and demand of the debate season. Our son exceeded any expectations that I could have had for him in debate. With him being the youngest member of our team, I was concerned that the pressure might be of a crushing type; but it was the stretching kind. He rose to it. I saw him grow right before my eyes. I thought this might be of some encouragement to parents considering this experience. But, enter with your eyes open — knowing this is going to be a major focus of your homeschooling for the term. Consider your student's other involvements, areas of aptitude, and your personal homeschooling mission.

Sincerely, Elaine Joachim Racine, Wisconsin


Is anyone interested in Lincoln Douglas debate?


From: "Chris Jeub"

Subject: Re: Something for the Loop

Date: Thu, 4 Jun 1998

"Dinner-Table Debates"

by Chris Jeub

The educational approach of forensics was widely popular among the ivy league universities that taught our nation's forefathers. Patrick Henry, George Washington, and Thomas Jefferson would have a professor walk into their classroom, write a controversial issue on the board, then pick one person to argue for it and one person to argue against it. It mattered little what the students personally believed, just so that they knew the arguments and were prepared to defend or attack them.

This kind of teaching is virtually gone from Harvard, Yale, and most other universities, as well as our public high schools. In our postmodern "world of ideas," truth is whatever you personally wish to promote, not an external entity to be sought. Postmodernism breeds a generation of learners as opposed to a generation of thinkers. Learners bob their heads up and down in agreement to whatever the secular professors teach, while thinkers reason through everything they hear with wise discernment and understanding.

Christians are waking up to the intellectually stimulating exercise of forensics. In home school debate, controversial issues are analyzed, wrestled with and reasoned with. Playing the devil's advocate (a rather unfortunate word choice for a healthy exercise of the mind) does not embed temptations of relativism and truthlessness. It teaches the arguments for and against truth to bring us to a better understanding of the Truth and prepare us to defend the Truth.

Most home schools wish to teach their students godly discernment and wisdom. Putting the old educational theory of forensics to practice in the home can turn out to be a most stimulating teaching activity.

You may start with something simple at the dinner table. In the following scenario, 12-year-old Timmy and 14-year-old Sarah usually share in clearing the table and loading the dishwasher every night after supper. However, Timmy has been working hard lately on an exciting fort in the backyard, and written all over his face is the desire to snap on the tool belt and head out to his project. Dad wants to encourage Timmy to go outside and put his back to work on something he enjoys, but he knows Sarah would not shine favorably on the favoritism, so instead he takes off his watch and says...

Dad: Timmy, I know you don't want to do dishes because the fort you're building out back is calling out for you. You have one minute to plea your case why you should get out of dishes. Ready? (Dad starts his watch) Go!

Timmy: Well, uh, let's see. (Timmy bows his head and rubs his chin for a quick three seconds of thought. He then nods his head, sits up straight, and begins his arguments.) You all know how I have been using the old lumber in the shed to build my fort in the boxelder tree. Mom herself said it was considered a school project. Just last week Sarah was cramming for her IOWA Basic test and I had to do all the dishes. We know how the rain can wipe out an entire week's worth of fort building, and this weather—75 degrees and not a cloud in the sky—needs to be taken advantage of! Besides, I did dishes at lunch—a chore Sarah usually has to do—but I did it out of the kindness of my own heart. The least she can do is help me out in my education by doing the few dishes here. One more thing...

Dad: Time's up.

Timmy: But Dad, one more...

Dad: Time's up is time's up. We have to keep this fair. (Turning to Mom.) Sounds pretty convincing, doesn't it, Mom?

Mom: I'll say!

Dad: (Turning to Sarah) Well, Sarah. You need to negate Timmy's proposal. You will have two minutes to give a rebuttal. Ready? Go!

Sarah: Well, you may think that's convincing, but Timmy is twisting the facts a tad. First of all, my studying for the IOWA Basics test is far from pounding some boards together in the back yard. The standardized testing needed to get done last week, but Timmy's fort could last all summer. Secondly, Timmy did the lunch dishes as a punishment for not making his bed this morning, not out of the kindness of his heart. I shouldn't be punished for his punishment. If anyone should get out of dishes, it is me. If we want to talk about doing other people's chores, I mowed the entire lawn this afternoon and walked the dog. Timmy here was pounding away on his fort. When I asked him to empty the grass clippings, he would put up a fuss and complain the entire time doing it. As far as I'm concerned, Timmy doesn't deserve getting out of dishes.

Dad: That's 1:42. Not bad timing, and excellent arguments.

Timmy: They were O.K.

Dad: (To Timmy) Well kiddo, you're fighting for air. You have one minute to make the final rebuttal. Go!

Timmy: Sarah may say all she wants about how the IOWA Basics Test is somehow superior to my fort building, but she didn't refute the fact that rain could keep me from building the fort in the future. So what if I did the lunch dishes as a punishment, I still did them, didn't I? Sarah loves it when I have to do her chores as punishment. As I recall, she went bike riding while I slaved away in the kitchen. And I didn't fuss and complain when Sarah asked me to empty the grass clippings. I would have loved to have done the lawn, but, as you know, I am not old enough to use the mower. Why should I be punished for something that is out of my control? And one more thing...

Dad: Time's up!

Timmy: Awe! But Dad!

Dad: Time's up! (To Mom.) Well, dear, it was a good round. Now we have to make a decision. What do you think?

Mom: It's a tough one.

Now Mom and Dad would make their decision based not on what they think should be the right decision, but how well their son and daughter drew out the arguments. Ordinarily, situations such as Timmy and Sarah's would have ended up in a bickering, fighting match. Mom and Dad coming in and "resolving" the conflict may have ended the arguing, but no argumentative skills would have been taught to the kids. In debate, winning and losing to get your way is not the objective, it is communicating and articulating your arguments to be persuasive.

There are three measuring sticks to use when judging a "dinner-table debate." The first is case analysis. Both sides have to present their "case"—Timmy being for going outside (the affirmative), and Sarah being against Timmy going outside (the negative). Notice that the affirmative goes first and ends last—always getting the first and last word—but has the same amount of speaking time as the negative. Timmy did a good job on his case, as his parents agreed, and would be favored if it wasn't for Sarah's also good case. Timmy seemed to conveniently leave out the fact that he washed dishes as a punishment and worked on the fort all afternoon. This shows Sarah's case analysis to be superior to Timmy's.

The second measuring stick to use in judging is the debater's ability to reason. We want to teach our kids to be reasonable, but unreasonable attitudes should not be encouraged. Sarah turned Timmy's arguments around with reasoning, not immature rationalizing, when she showed how Timmy did the lunch dishes as a punishment; therefore, "I shouldn't be punished for his punishment." Timmy's rebuttal, "I still did them, didn't I?" lacked reasoning.

The third is delivery, probably the weakest evaluative weight when judging a debate, but still important. Delivery includes the speaking skills, the tone of voice, the rapport or attitude behind the debater. Mom and Dad may say in their evaluating that both Sarah and Timmy are being selfish and both lack a servant's heart. Because Timmy kept the argument centered on his education rather than getting out of work, he could be credited with winning in delivery. Besides, it would help him feel better because he got clobbered in the other two more important realms.

Overall, Sarah won this round.

Try forensics out on your kids. The initial debates may not be as formal as the above example, especially if you are used to breaking up bickering fights with parental law, but in time the kids may get used to being able to reason and think through their conflicts. The above example may have turned out with Sarah winning, but perhaps after being declared winner she may take to heart her parents' delivery critique about selfishness. With the foreknowledge of being "right," she may extend "grace" and give Timmy what he does not deserve: the time out of dishes and into his fort.

As the kids get older and wiser, they may be ready to argue about important issues facing Christians today. Dad may throw out the topic, "Home education should be strictly regulated," and make Sarah argue for it and Timmy argue against it. This would ring to the tune of forensics our forefathers engaged in regularly. We as home educators wish to debunk the relativistic teaching theories plaguing our public schools and, Lord willing, return to the basic quest for the truth that so prevalently founded these United States of America. We need some Benjamin-Franklins and Patrick-Henrys today to take leadership in the world. And these leaders, just like Franklin and Henry themselves, may be home educated.


Date: Wed, 3 Jun 1998

To: 1776

From: kidogo

Subject: Re: [1776] Woodrow Wilson Quote

It is important when we use quotes to be able to give the sources — both primary and secondary if possible — so they can be verified. One of the criticisms levelled at conservatives is our frequent use of false or unverifiable quotes. So I am making a source file for verified quotes, which I hope to make available from Kidogo's World. I welcome inquiries from anyone trying to locate or verify a quote, or contributions of quotes that have been verified. Perhaps I can save you time. I spent a lot of time in the libraries several years ago verifying quotes. I have several hundreds — of the Founding Fathers, and of other luminaries and scoundrels from our near and distant past.

Jean Westphal


Subject: Question about debate.

Date: Thu, 18 Jun 1998

Hi, my name is Lynette Schenk. We are starting a Co-op and plan on including debate as a class. I have ordered the book and video from HSLD. Do you have any suggestions on how to set up a class on beginning debate, or a source that I could go to? I would appreciate any help. Thank you so much.

Lynette Schenk, Quincy, IL


Date: Fri, 26 Jun 1998

Subject: Homeschoolers from Maryland

Was great to find your web page discussing speech and debate. I''m a 16 year old HS'er. I have been involved in improv group as well as Shakespeare theater. Last fall I joined the local Tostmaster Int. group. Its great and I' m learning alot and I plan on continuing. The group is made up of proffessional men and women who have been very kind by letting me into their adult group but I would love to get hooked up with people my age who are interested in speech and debate. Debate is something I've been interested in but I've not yet had the oppurtunity to delve into.


Date: Sun, 28 Jun 1998

I am a Christian homeschooler and have homeschooled for 10 years, primarily using the Principle Approach. I will be teaching Introductory Logic starting in the Fall with a Christian high-school co-op group. Although I am very excited, I am also very overwhelmed at the amount of materials that there seems to be available. I am going to start the students with the Critical Thinking series that you sell. I don't think that I can move them into a full-fledged debate mode until I get them used to the rules of critical thinking and logic. Do you think that this is a good idea? I really don't see how they can start actual debating before working on Logic first. Is this a good philosophy?? Thanks ahead of time for whatever input you may have......Wanda Fisher (Missuz Fis)


A new speech textbook published: Public Speaking for Homeschoolers by Dan Malan with Bible Engravings by Gustave Dore (1866) MCE Publishing Company, 7519 Lindbergh Drive, St. Louis, Missouri


From: Rookie700

Date: Mon, 13 Jul 1998

Subject: Debate via Email

Here is an argument for the 1999 debate resolution:

In the Constitution, the supreme law of the land, there is no section stating the the federal government can control who people give their money to, and how people make their money. If someone makes their money honestly, from hardwork, and earn it fairly, they have the right to give it to whoever they want,how much they want, and whenever they want. The Federal Government has no right telling people what they can and cannot do with their money!

Ryan the Rookie


Date: Mon, 20 Jul 1998

It is good to see a "debate" started by Ryan the Rookie concerning HSLDA's new resolution. Personally, I think this debate resolution is much more interesting than the public schools' resolution on Russian policy. I would love to hear more arguments on campaign finance reform.True, Ryan, that the government has overstepped their rights in many ways beyond what the Constitution allows, but much of what the governement has done has been for the betterment of society. The Constitution says nothing about stop signs being red octogons, but for safety's sake (or for the "welfare" of the people), the federal government—represented by the people—deemed it necessary to create a standard for stop signs. The same can be said for campaign finance reform.

I like the qualitative determiner "significant" in the resolution. Some of the debate will need to be arguing over how "significant" is significant. Also, every debater will need to know the common proposals out there for campaign finance reform. There are web sites out there that maps many of them out.

One final idea that can be thrown around: why are mostly democrats so motivated by campaign finance reform? Don't we have laws already that holds politicians within strict guidelines to make things more fair? We do not have a problem with finance laws, we have a problem with politicians OBEYING those laws. It is ironic (actually, it is not ironic) that the politicians who are crying for campaign finance reform are the same politicians who are in hot water for breaking the existing laws. I don't think stiffening the enforcement of the existing laws would be considered "significant change," so this stand would be a good negative argument.

Personally, I need to research first to find out what the existing laws are—every debater should be well-versed in the status quo. After that, I need to find out what the popular reform proposals are out there, as well as be conscious of who is proposing them. I tend to believe these are partisan proposals eventhough many claim to be bipartisan. It is only after I have researched these two points could I adequately develop some of my own case.

Diligently debating,

Chris Jeub


Date: Wed, 29 Jul 1998

Subject: Ohio Debate Teams

My husband and I are in the process of forming debate teams in the Columbus, Ohio area. While we are new to formal debate, my husband, as an attorney, has extensive training and experience in the areas of persuasive writing, oral argument, and trial competitions.

We are looking for: (1) debate coaches who are willing to share their insights on coaching with us; and (2) other Ohio home schooled high school students who are interested in pursuing debate to join us. We are also very interested in setting up debate "scrimmages" with other home schooled teams in Ohio (and surrounding states) in order to give our teams some practice prior to the final tournaments. If you are interested in joining us, have information you can share, or have a team you would like to debate us, please contact Wes and Anita Emerson. Thank you!


Date: Wed, 29 Jul 1998

From: (Dale Messmer)

Please make me a subscriber. Maybe we can get a group together here in Phoenix.



Date: Thu, 30 Jul 1998

From: Joseph Rose

Organization: Institute for the Analysis of Poultry

I concur with Ryan the Rookie that, Constitutionally, the Federal government has very limited authority concerning campaign finances. But there are several ways to construct an affirmative case that bypasses the Constitutionality argument.

1. Have all 50 states enact laws. I know it sounds funky but can you find any wording in this years resolution that would make this illegal? I couldn't. It's practically unworkable for the sole reason that, in the real world, all 50 states are not going to enact the same law. But, it is practical in the context of debate since this sole problem is solved by fiat power.

2. Remove restrictions on campaign finances. This is also allowed in the resolution and, Constitutionally, it is the safest way to go. Personally I believe that campaign finances should not be restricted. I believe it is undemocratic to restrict them and, let me qualify this, in some ways immoral to do so.

I would love any discussion (aka argument) on these ideas to strengthen understanding of the topic.

—Joseph Rose


Date: Fri, 31 Jul 1998

Subject: In response to the response of my argument

Hey y'all! This is Ryan the Rookie, the debater from California, the big bowl of granola and flakes! Thanx, Chris, for your great resonse against my argument for the 1998 debate on campaign finance reform! Here is my response back:

When it comes to public safety, government can, say, make stop signs. But the state governments should do this, not the federal government, according to the 10th Amendment, where it states: "all powers not given to the federal government belong to the states and the people themselves," or something like that. But regarding the stop sign analogy: Stop signs actually work, regulations on campaign finances don't. In the years of legislation our federal government has unconstitutionally enacted, election spending has not decreased, and politcal action committees have grown. They aren't working!

——rYaN tHe rOoKiE


Date: Fri, 7 Aug 1998

As a parent of a 9 year old rising fourth grader who is entering his first full year of home-schooling at the end of this month and as a former high school deabate team member I am interested in your group. In our county we have a very active home school group. I am sure there would be more interest in such a group. Could you send me what information you have available?

Thank you,

Bill Shuman,Waynesville, NC


From: "Chris Jeub"

Date: Wed, 12 Aug 1998

Thanks for the critiques, Joseph and Ryan, of my attempt to defend the affirmative. I especially like your point #2, Joseph, about abolishing ALL campaign finance laws as an affirmative case—it definitely would be concidered "substancial" change. This would be a good surprise attack on ambitious negative cases. Your point #1, though, (all 50 states enact the same laws) could be too easily ridiculed. It'll never happen. Ryan, I am stumped—carrying my stop sign argument through to your advantage was pretty logically clever. What can I say?

Since the discussion is in the conservative favor, let be argue affirmative.Campaign finance laws do keep millionaires from "buying" political favors. Presently there is a $2000 one-time donation limit for any single contributer. Campaigns are financed, literally, by masses—not individuals. This is democratic and helps ensure more fair elections. Also, let us not forget, that the goal of the pro-reform people ultimately is total government financing of campaigns—set up in grants to be applied for. Can you imagine the benefits to the public? Fewer annoying commercials everyother minute on TV and radio, less telemarketing asking for money, and the freedom to run for office yourself without the huge burden of raising millions of dollars to do so. Let taxes pay for campaigns just like taxes pay for other necessities of democracy like courts, roads, and police. Can you imagine the police having to come to the public through telemarketing and campaigns to hire more police? Or campaigns to bring a criminal to trial? Let our taxes be used to speed up democracy: public campaign finance—vote affirmative.

I welcome any feedback, anytime.

-Chris Jeub


Date: Wed, 12 Aug 1998

Well, bless my soul! Great reply, jojomeister! Hello everyone, this is Ryan the Rookie, from California, the big bowl of flakes and granola! I am here to reply to joseph's great reply:

Regarding the states enacting the laws, it would still be a violation of the First Amendment and freedom of speech! States cannot violate this, they must still respect freedoms. Furthermore, there are many states that will not pass state laws because the violate the Constitution. Take Alaska for example. Alaska has passed several campaign regulations, but the superiour judges ruled them unconstitional because they violate the First Amendment.

In Christ,

-rYaN tHe rOoKiE


From: "Chris Jeub"

Date: Wed, 12 Aug 1998

The Minnesota Association of Christian Home Educators is proud to announce Minnesota's first home school debate tournament to be taken place in Alexandria on October 17th. We will be debating the 1999 HSLDA resolution:

"Resolved: That the United States should substantially change its rules governing campaign finances" in a Lincoln-Douglas format. This debate tournament is unique in that debaters need not bring a partner; the debating will be done one-on-one. (For more information on this unique format, see This is an open tournament and border-liners from surrounding states are welcome to make the journey and compete. You may e-mail me at for more information.

-Chris Jeub


From: "Lisa C. Kanak"

Date: Wed, 12 Aug 1998

I've had the opportunity to read various messages regarding the new 1998-1999 Homeschool topic, and I have found some of the comments rather interesting. From what I have read, there are two common themes:

(1) Most people believe that the affirmative and negative ground on this topic is well defined, and

(2) That this topic will somehow avoid "squirrell" cases found in NFL debate.

From briefly reviewing the topic let me make two critical observations for Homeschool Debaters:

(1) The resolution is bi-directional, meaning, that the affirmative can choose whether or not it wants to increase the rules or decrease the rules. The negative, therefore, must be prepared to answer both, that increasing rules (in various ways) is bad and that decreasing rules (in various ways is bad). There is no clearly defined affirmative or negative ground.

(2) The resolution states "substantially change" — substantial is almost universally regarded as a vague term. Why? Look at the definitions. For simplicity's sake, I'll use Webster's. Webster's defines substantial as 1:a consisting or relating to substance b: not imaginary or illusory: REAL, TRUE; 2: ample to satisfy and nourish: FULL; 3a: possessed of means b: considerable in quantity; 4: firmly constructed and 5: being largely, but not wholly that which is specified. From the posts on this topic, I believe most individuals are assuming that substantial means "considerable in quantity" — but this is only one possible meaning. I have used definitions for substantial that have "quantified" substantial as everything from .5% of a change to 75% change. There is a very large body of definitional ground (legal and contextual definitions) which actually say that one cannot quantify what is, and what is not, substantial, rendering the term almost meaningless.

Let me also add that the stock issue of "significance" and "substantial" as a topicality issue are not one and the same. For example, a seemingly "minor" change to the rules may have the effect of correcting a very significant problem with campaign finance reform rules (or at least one legislator's perception of a significant problem, which is usually the case with our beloved Congressmen). Conversely, one may make a seemingly "substantial" change to the rules which does not correct a very "significant" harm area.

This simply means there is a lot of room in this topic for a wide variety of cases dealing with everything from almost completely eliminating all campaign finance rules to public funding of all federal elections — and everything in between. Hence the possibility of what individuals are referring to as "squirrel cases" does in fact exist to a fairly large degree on this topic.

Just some food for thought . . .

Lisa Kanak, Former coach, United States Naval Academy Debate Team, River Valley Christian School Debate Coach, F.A.I.T.H. Homeschool Association Debate Coach


From: Betsy Maynard

Date: Thu, 13 Aug 1998

Ryan the Rookie said << But regarding the stop sign analogy: Stop signs actually work, regulations on campaign finances don't.>>

Aha, but do you have proof? I hadn't thought of having all 50 states enact the laws. That would bypass the constitutional issue. I'll have to give it some more thought, but it sounds like a very cool idea! Also, abolishing all campaign finance laws would add a fun twist to the debate. This resolution is a little bit more open ended than last years. I like it!



From: "Patricia A. M. Ingram"

Subject: Suggestions on how to start a debate team??

Date: Fri, 14 Aug 1998

Greetings! I have been reading the news on the "Debate Loop" for over a year now. I keep hoping that there will be some serious information provided about how to start a debate team. — I have soooooo many questions: What is required of a coach? What kinds of things are done during practice? How frequently would a team need to practice? What consistutes a team? How does a non-debate oriented parent become debate literate? Is there an "Idiot's Book to Debate/Debate Coaching" that would be basic and useful? I am part of a homeschooling high school co-op and would LOVE to get a debate team going. But, I have NO clue how to do it or where to begin. Unfortunately, there are no former debate team parents in our group! Can someone out there offer some assistance, please! Thank you.

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