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 Post subject: Desire
PostPosted: Mon Jan 02, 2012 10:29 pm 
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Location: I'm not lost! I'm locationally challenged. -John M. Ford
Hi all,

So I have an interesting dilemma. One of the debaters that I've coached a couple of times is brilliant. He loves debate, he loves researching, case-writing, the works. His older brother (also his partner) doesn't have that desire. In fact, I can't even see that he has a desire to do debate at all. Whenever I try to coach him through a drill, or explain an argument to him, he can't practice it. Either the knowledge is there and he can't relay it back to me (or a judge in a real round, for that matter), or he just has no desire to grasp the most basic concepts of criminal justice/debate.

Two questions:
(1) How do you develop/encourage that desire to debate, when the motivation is mostly coming from the parents?
(2) How would you handle that as a coach? Do you "give up" until the debater expresses some desire?

Thanks!

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 Post subject: Re: Desire
PostPosted: Mon Jan 02, 2012 10:48 pm 
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A lot of my friends started out really lackluster and ended up becoming really involved in debate. The reason, mostly, was they became self-motivated; they saw all their close friends were winning, didn't like that they weren't, and decided to change that. Often, this often involved their partner (who usually carried the team) dumping them and finding a better partner; this usually made them wake up to the fact that it was sink or swim time. Since they usually had the tools and now had the willpower, they swam.

I think that's one reason our club was really successful in creating motivated debaters. Our coach wasn't overbearing. We chose how much time and effort to put into debate. So when kids decided to put in effort, they did it out of their own free will, not because someone forced them to.

At the same time, though, it doesn't work for everyone. Some people just don't like debate and won't like debate no matter what. Sometimes it's an attitude thing (the parent pushes really hard, the kid hates the parent, so the kid pushes back really hard). Sometimes it's a maturity thing. Sometimes it's just an inherent dislike for the activity; not everyone is meant to be a debater, just like I'm definitely NOT meant to be a singer :P

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Arete Speech & Debate, NCFCA, Class of 2011


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 Post subject: Re: Desire
PostPosted: Tue Jan 03, 2012 12:17 am 
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Of the lessons I learned as a full-time coach, one that's very near the top of the list is that when people don't want to debate, it's the worst possible idea to twist their arms to force them to. In fact, several of my friends who coach high school have this as their one unbreakable, purely stubborn rule: they will not let parents force a kid to debate. It wastes the kid's time, makes absolutely no difference, and squanders scarce and precious opportunities for every single opponent the kid faces.

It can be worthwhile to put some reasonable and temporary effort into enticing the kid, making debate fun and attractive and hoping that something will develop, but it sounds as though you've already done that. I'd make clear to the kid that if his mind ever changes, you'd welcome him back, and then I'd redirect my effort someplace else.


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 Post subject: Re: Desire
PostPosted: Tue Jan 03, 2012 12:50 am 
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Is the younger brother's heart set on team policy?

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 Post subject: Re: Desire
PostPosted: Tue Jan 03, 2012 1:01 am 
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As a father and a debate coach I'm am going to disagree with DrSrader. It might be unique to homeschooling but I do not think so. Parents force their kids to do things for their own good all the time. I "forced" my kids to do speech/debate I also "forced" my kids to play softball/baseball. I know many parents that force their kids to play piano and the list goes on.

Especially in home school situations were parents and social norms are different sometimes the only way one child can participate in debate is if their sibling is their partner (mostly just the first year or so when they are new to the activity).

For the first year I would simply encourage/coach both kids as much as possible, if this is the second year and the child is probably 14 or 15 I would say it is time to have a serious conversation with the child and the parents. In all the activities I never "forced" my kids past the second year especially since by then it is obvious if they have the drive and the aptitude to peruse that activity.

I think though as I read DrSrader's post more carefully the crux of the matter is how much time and effort should you expend as a coach into someone that is obviously not "coachable" for whatever reason. I think you still put forth your normal effort pointing out flaws in logic or argumentation especially in club setting for the benefit of the others that can get some useful lessons but I would not go out of my way to make a special effort since it sounds like you have done that already to no avail.

Maybe a few more details would be helpful...you can PM if you don't want others to know who you are talking about although my guess is the cat is already out of the bag.


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 Post subject: Re: Desire
PostPosted: Tue Jan 03, 2012 2:16 am 
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McNixmunk
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I'm afraid I'm a little like that older brother: there are so many more interesting things to do than create briefs or cases or collect evidence. And my speaking skills are deplorable, so usually I dislike the tournaments as well. :?

I'm basically forcing myself to do debate to improve my thinking and speaking skills. It is hard for me to see how anyone would like the debating part of tournaments, though I can understand the social aspect.

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 Post subject: Re: Desire
PostPosted: Tue Jan 03, 2012 4:40 am 
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I've been a guest speaker at a local Classical Conversations debate class once a year for three years. Most of these kids either could care less about debate or absolutely hate it. My main objective going into these classes has been to motivate these kids to desire to do debate and to do it well. I try to really empathize with the students, because honestly, I struggle with doing well in areas that I don't naturally enjoy. So I try to be very real... but still demanding. I tell them upfront that I realize that many of them probably are being forced to do this... BUT that doesn't mean there aren't good reasons for trying to do your best at it. I also tried to present debate as something that was both vital and interesting. I came up with some key reasons (that they would identify with) why debate is important. I also used tons of fun stories from my rounds (yet another reason to try and have fun in debate rounds) that made debate seem... actually endurable. I also encouraged the students to go to a tournament and watch some actual debates (which they did... they ended up all coming to a tournament and watching my 6th prelim round... which turned out to be a match between two 5-0's... so that worked well). I think many of the students really got a glimpse through the class and the round that... at the very least, debate wasn't as bad as they thought it was. I think some of the students might actually now look forward to their debates.

So... to summarize that probably over-length post....

1. Keep it real
2. Keep it fun
3. Keep it tough

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 Post subject: Re: Desire
PostPosted: Tue Jan 03, 2012 2:40 pm 
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McNixmunk
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Location: Grove City College probably
OppositeWay wrote:
2. Keep it fun


This. Laughing with club members after or during the debates helps make it more interesting for people like me.

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If we don't study the mistakes of the future we are doomed to repeat them for the first time. - Ken M

"Fiction is the lie through which we tell the truth" - Albert Camus


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 Post subject: Re: Desire
PostPosted: Tue Jan 03, 2012 8:33 pm 
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Location: Texas
Also the skills acquired help you in other endeavors, my daughter in her first year of college said freshman composition was made easier because of the debate, research a topic, organize your thoughts, even citations were easier because it came natural from debating.

Also speaking skills are essential in most jobs even if it just communicating better with your co-workers and customers.

Also if you are pitching in to help out a sibling you really should give your best effort to help them out as much as possible.

HOWEVER after a couple years of obtaining the basic skills and giving your best effort if it is obvious this is not your cup of tea perhaps you could see if your parents would allow you to stop speech/debate and pursue other interests.


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 Post subject: Re: Desire
PostPosted: Tue Jan 03, 2012 9:28 pm 
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Quote:
For the first year I would simply encourage/coach both kids as much as possible, if this is the second year and the child is probably 14 or 15 I would say it is time to have a serious conversation with the child and the parents. In all the activities I never "forced" my kids past the second year especially since by then it is obvious if they have the drive and the aptitude to peruse that activity.


That's definitely true. A lot of my close friends that ended up loving debate were forced into it by their parents. Usually, though, they started becoming successful once the motivation became internal, not external.

(there are exceptions: kids who absolutely hate debate have won qualifiers in our region.)

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Andrew Min
ahmin@princeton.edu
Arete Speech & Debate, NCFCA, Class of 2011


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 Post subject: Re: Desire
PostPosted: Wed Jan 04, 2012 8:26 am 
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DrSraderNCU wrote:
Of the lessons I learned as a full-time coach, one that's very near the top of the list is that when people don't want to debate, it's the worst possible idea to twist their arms to force them to. In fact, several of my friends who coach high school have this as their one unbreakable, purely stubborn rule: they will not let parents force a kid to debate. It wastes the kid's time, makes absolutely no difference, and squanders scarce and precious opportunities for every single opponent the kid faces.

I'm not sure this is as universal as you would suggest. I was forced into debate my entire first year. While I agree with you that it wasn't optimal, it did give me a lot of skill and experiences that were very important. And I ended up completely falling in love with debate, realized I wasn't awful at it, and it's now exceptionally important to me. :P Being made to do it planted the seeds of love for debate.

I'm definitely not saying it's always good, but I don't agree with you that it's always bad, either.


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 Post subject: Re: Desire
PostPosted: Wed Jan 04, 2012 5:24 pm 
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The little bit of wiggle room I left myself in that claim involved temporary encouragement, and giving up when it was plain that the student had no enthusiasm for debate. What counts as "temporary" varies from student to student. If I were to talk to your coaches, it wouldn't surprise me if they said "He complained about doing it, but we could tell that he was warming up to it." I've definitely coached debaters over the years who said they hated debate, but still got engrossed in card-cutting and excited whenever they found something good, or got their competitive juices flowing in practice debates and an adrenaline surge at tournaments.

Other debaters are just dead weight, and can't work up any enthusiasm for any of it, no matter what a coach tries. Those latter debaters are the only ones I think of as having to be forced to do it, and I stick to my position that it's a waste of time, and wastes the time of the debaters' opponents, to strong-arm them. It might be the case that occasionally it works out, but plenty of unwise things occasionally turn up a good outcome without changing the fact that they're unwise. Someone wins the lottery every time they draw, but it doesn't change the fact that blowing your money on lottery tickets is foolish.


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 Post subject: Re: Desire
PostPosted: Wed Jan 04, 2012 6:58 pm 
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DrSraderNCU wrote:
The little bit of wiggle room I left myself in that claim involved temporary encouragement, and giving up when it was plain that the student had no enthusiasm for debate. What counts as "temporary" varies from student to student. If I were to talk to your coaches, it wouldn't surprise me if they said "He complained about doing it, but we could tell that he was warming up to it." I've definitely coached debaters over the years who said they hated debate, but still got engrossed in card-cutting and excited whenever they found something good, or got their competitive juices flowing in practice debates and an adrenaline surge at tournaments.

Other debaters are just dead weight, and can't work up any enthusiasm for any of it, no matter what a coach tries. Those latter debaters are the only ones I think of as having to be forced to do it, and I stick to my position that it's a waste of time, and wastes the time of the debaters' opponents, to strong-arm them. It might be the case that occasionally it works out, but plenty of unwise things occasionally turn up a good outcome without changing the fact that they're unwise. Someone wins the lottery every time they draw, but it doesn't change the fact that blowing your money on lottery tickets is foolish.

That's fair. I suppose I had a certain level of enthusiasm, but I was still being made to do it. I appreciate your distinction though.


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