In Defense of Judge Intervention… Sort of…

james-lewisby James Lewis

Assistant Coach, University School (Cleveland)

Every weekend before tournaments across the state of Ohio, debate judges are given instructions to prepare them for the task ahead. This year at the OHSSL State Tournament I had a flash of sudden insight (or idiocy, depending on your perspective) in the midst of judging instructions.

A member of the tab room staff was telling us that we might know that arguments/claims made in the round are wrong, but that we should essentially refrain from intervening unless the other side pointed that out. I nodded along in agreement as I usually do, until I was struck (at probably the worst possible moment: the State Tournament) by an insight:

I actually don’t agree with that standard in judging debate.

I have been judging debate of some form for almost fifteen years now and have heard my share of bad arguments, mangled evidence, and untrue statements.

Because I try to familiarize myself with some of the topic literature in preparing for a resolution—and because I happen to have an uncanny memory for certain things—I know when debaters are taking a quotation from an article out of context.

Personally, I majored in political science at a school where philosophy was prioritized, and I feel that experience helps me recognize when debaters are misapplying and misconstruing John Locke’s Second Treatise. Professionally, I teach both American- and Ancient History, so I am fairly well versed in a wide range of subjects; and, like many judges, I happen to know a little about current events and how the world works.

And because I had a solid liberal arts education, I know rot when I hear it. Continue reading In Defense of Judge Intervention… Sort of…

Inspiration for 2016-17: Impact that Lasts a Lifetime

2015-16: A Reflection

by Jordyn Zimmerman, Mentor HS (CLE) Class of 21016; 2015-16 National Speech & Debate Association National Student-of-the-Year Finalist; current Bobcat Speech & Debate team member at Ohio University

“Through speech and debate, we can create inclusive communities where everyone has the opportunity to tell his or her story.”

When I switched to Mentor High School for the 2015-16 school year, I never envisioned myself joining the speech and debate team.  However, that all changed when I addressed Mentor School’s staff on opening day and one of the coaches publicly asked if I wanted to join the team.

Although I thought she was joking at the time, the superintendent convinced me otherwise.  On the first day of school, I was unofficially a member of Mentor’s speech and debate team, and by October, I had an informative speech ready to go.

My first competition was in December. Even though I spent my time rocking back and forth, essentially ignoring the world around me, I was hooked within just a few minutes of being in my first round.  I walked away from my first tournament with some fairly good rankings, which I didn’t deserve.

For the first couple months, I wasn’t able to keep eye contact with the judges and simultaneously gesturing while using my iPad seemed nearly impossible.  Yet, every Saturday I competed and the Cleveland District embraced a new way of thinking. Continue reading Inspiration for 2016-17: Impact that Lasts a Lifetime