STAM- Secondary Debate Overview

STAM- Secondary Debate Overview

The following is an overview of the sessions attended at the Speech/Theater Association of Missouri Conference held September 20-22.

Session 1- Public Forum Debate

  • The session emphasized best practices in teaching public forum debate, provided strategies for increasing learner agency through instructor scaffolding, rudimentary coaching/in round strategies, and outlined an overview of the October topic for this event.
    • Best practices– frontloading history/background before asking the learner to research, construct arguments or cases; developing formative assessments to gauge student development.
    • Strategies for learner agency– research templates to challenge existing student knowledge/preconceptions about the topic; templates to help beginning learners to develop argumentative/case ideas.
    • Coaching/in round strategies- dealing with GCF; delivering case material; drills/practice strategies.
    • Overview of October topic– Benefits and shortcomings of the US acceding to the UN Convention on the Law of the Seas. Included discussions of state sovereignty, seabed mining/environmental impacts and concerns, royalty sharing with landlocked nations, and the role of the US in shaping the language and provisions of the treaty.

Session 2- Basics of Debate Argumentation

  • Session outlined fundamentals of argumentation, how arguments are used in a debate format, how debate formats achieve various argumentative outcomes in different segments of the debate.
    • Argumentation 101– Elements of Aristotelian persuasion, components of arguments (claim, support, impact) and their roles in clash, types of arguments (e.g. simple, complex, supported, combined, etc.)
    • Argumentative Deployment in Academic Debate- Horizontal versus vertical argumentative development in debates.
    • Debate formatting and argumentation- Construction, clarification, clash, extension, and framing.


Session 3- Ethics in Debate

  • I served on a panel for this discussion of ethical issues/problems in competitive debate and speech and potential solutions to these issues. Topics included: plagiarism in interp events, manufacturing evidence in limited prep events, unethical use of evidence in debate events, coaching via text/DM during competition; students not watching/observing during debates; etc.

Session 4- Policy Debate 

  • I presented during this session. Topics included potential affirmative cases, disadvantages, counterplans, and kritiks for the upcoming topic on immigration.

Session 5- Lincoln Douglas Debate 

  • Session covered potential resolutional, affirmative, and negative strategies to the October Lincoln Douglas topic regarding source confidentiality.
    • Background- pentagon papers, watergate, Branzberg vs. Hayes, other relevant SCOTUS decisions.
    • Affirmative- defense of democracy, Rawls’ Social Contract and obligations to defend and maximize liberty, Kantian ethics and deontological approaches to a free press/informed public
    • Negative- national security concerns, existence of ad hoc shield laws in 49 states, DC, and major cities.



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