School Constraints: Rhinelander High School

Experience: As a student, my high school did not offer a debate program. Before entering the education field, I was relatively unfamiliar with the world of academic policy debate. Five years ago, I became the coach of the debate team at Rhinelander High School. We are the northernmost debate team. Debate is also a course offering, so my focus lies largely on education. I have enjoyed both coaching and judging debate, constantly becoming more familiar with debate theory and the annual resolutions.

Paradigm: On the most basic level, I would classify myself as a tabs judge. However, I am a tabs judge only in the sense that I do not vote on my own knowledge or opinions. I am willing to hear any argument you throw at me -- counterplans, kritiks, topicality. It's all acceptable if you run it properly and are creating direct clash in the debate round. I am not a liberal tabs judge -- in the sense that anything at all goes. I completely disagree with "nasty" game theory debate. I will allow open cross examination at the varsity level, but I expect no other tag teaming. Students should not be taking their opponent's evidence without permission, they should not be running evidence to their partner during constructives, and they should absolutely not stand over their opposition while they are delivering their speeches. Furthermore, direct insults, foul language, and all other unethical behavior should be avoided. I find it extremely disheartening that such behavior is encouraged, and don't believe teams that use excessive foul language or call their competition stupid should be winning rounds. Given that, however, I realize I must exist within the current state of policy debate. Therefore, you can still win the round if you are the better arguers -- but such behavior will significantly and negatively impact your speaker points.


Value of Debate: I believe this activity should instill applicable and practical life skills in students. Many of my beliefs were shaped by the WDCA and WHSFA objectives of debate. Below, I record some of those objectives and how they translate into my preferences.

1. "Skill" Objectives:

A. To understand and communicate various forms of argument effectively in a variety of contexts.
For me, effective communication is important. I am fully capable of keeping up with your speed, but that doesn't necessarily mean I want to hear it. Yes, I want a fast and engaging round. However, be very aware of bad speed. You're not an auctioneer. You shouldn't be gasping, or sounding as though you are drowning. You shouldn't rely on distracting body gestures or poor posturing to keep the pace.

B. To develop the ability to analyze controversies, select and evaluate evidence, construct and refute arguments.
My translation of this objective is to know why you're saying the words you're saying. Don't get so caught up in needing an abundance of cards that you don't actually understand the information or arguments on those cards. Debate should begin with an assertion, followed by reasoning, and evidence. It's not a sin to use logic and analytics in the debate round -- as long as you can support your claims. Don't be afraid to use your OWN brain! Furthermore, refutation is critical. I will pay attention to dropped arguments in the round. Affirmatives teams must remember that they have the burden of proof.

2. "Intellectual" Objectives:

A. To learn theories that seek to explain the process of communicating arguments with people.

While it is important to use theory in the debate round, please use it effectively. Don't continue to drop terms just to sound educated or impress me. You won't impress me if you use terms incorrectly. On the novice level, try to avoid topicality. You were all given packets and limits. The plans are topical. Running T at Novice will only annoy me. At the varsity level, only run T when it truly applies. Ensure that you have voters and standards. When responding to a topicality argument, you should argue either "we meet" or offer a counter-definition; I think it is slightly asinine to do both. Furthermore, don't tell me I need to vote for you because their plan is unfair and you couldn't possibly be prepared -- but then continue to run an abundance of on and off case arguments that essentially nullify your own claim of predictability. While many negative teams are taught that contradictions are acceptable, I would prefer that the negative avoid presenting contradictory evidence. When running counterplans, make sure they are actually competitive and be able to give me net benefit analysis. I am open to the affirmative running a perm as a test only, rather than a true advocacy. If there perm proves that your CP is not mutually exclusive, you are highly unlikely to win on the CP. Further, a CP is expected to solve for the affirmative harms -- not some other harms. So, if you're running a CP, you need to concede the affirmative harms. I am open to K arguments, but would like a viable alternative. "Reject and rethink" is generally a weak alternative. DAs are certainly always acceptable, but we all know some are simply ridicilious, so keep the nonsense in your debate boxes. Please have a clear link. I am also interested in hearing frameworks, but be careful -- make sure that every decision you make in the round is consistent with your own framework. I have seen too many affirmative teams violate their own framework. Affirmative teams should also ideally present a need/plan case. In all rounds, impact analysis is important and the final rebuttal is crucial. You need to tell me that I should vote for you -- and why I should vote for you. Failure to do so is often acceptance of defeat.