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Transcript of Debate Class
Debating has strict rules of conduct and quite sophisticated arguing techniques and you will often be in a position where you will have to argue the opposite of what you believe in. If a debate is a form of argument then it logically follows that there must be something to argue about. This is called the TOPIC. The topic changes from debate to debate. They are often about current issues of public importance ("That in a civilized society people do not need guns.") or about general philosophies or ideas ("That beauty is better than brains"). If a debate is going to take place then it must be agreed in advance what the debate is going to be about. Thus it must be agreed what the topic means. Deciding and explaining what a topic means is called `defining the topic'.
The job of defining begins with the AFFIRMATIVE. The first speaker of the affirmative must explain in clear terms what they believe the topic means. In deciding this the affirmative team should always try to use the "person on the street" test.
That is if this topic were presented to the average person on the street - is this what they would take it to mean. Where the topic is too obscure to allow this test then apply the `reasonability' test. The affirmative team should ask themselves "Is this definition reasonable ? Is it something the average person might expect ? Does it allow for both sides of the debate ?". If you can answer yes to these questions then the definition is probably reasonable, if not search for something more reasonable.
Try to avoid the dictionary, except in cases where you don't understand a word. In your definition explain the meaning of the whole topic rather than each separate word. Because debating is a team event it is important that the three speakers work together as a team. The TEAM LINE is the basic statement of "why the topic is true" (for the affirmative) and "why the topic is false" (for the negative). It should be a short sentence, presented by the first speaker of each team and used by the other two speakers to enforce the idea of teamwork. 3rd negative must:
- reaffirm the negative's team line.
- rebut all the remaining points of the affirmative's case.
- the 3rd negative should spend about two thirds to three quarters of their time rebutting.
- present a summary of the negative's case.
- round off the debate for the negative. 'AFFIRMATIVE' 'NEGATIVE' Topic Topic All topics begin with the word "That". As in other arguments there are two sides to any topic. The team that agrees with the topic is called the AFFIRMATIVE (or the `government' in parliamentary debating) and the team that disagrees with the topic is called the NEGATIVE (or the `opposition' in parliamentary debating). When organising a debate it is important to select a topic that is appropriate to the age and education of the debaters concerned. Often topics will cover areas that the debaters have a specific interest in or, in the case of schools debates, that have been covered in classes or are current news items. The negative team may agree with or choose to challenge the definition presented. The negative team should be very careful about challenging as it is difficult to continue the debate with two definitions.
Challenges may be made if the definition given is unreasonable or if it defines the opposition out of the debate. If the negative team chooses to challenge the definition it should be done by the first speaker who should clearly outline why the negative is challenging and then propose a better definition. What is a debate?
What is a topic ?
The Team Line
The Roles of the Speakers
What is Matter ?
What is Method ?
What is Manner ?
The Marking Scheme Teacher Onome Isiorho In a debating team each speaker has specified roles that they must fulfil to play their part in the team. They are laid out below in the order that the speakers will speak.
1st Affirmative must:
- define the topic.
- present the affirmative's team line.
- outline briefly what each speaker in their team will talk about.
- present the first half of the affirmative case. 2nd negative must:
- reaffirm the negative's team line.
- rebut some of the main points of the affirmative's case.
- the 2nd negative should spend about one third of their time rebutting.
- present the second half of the negative's case.
1st negative must:
- accept or reject the definition. If you don't do this it is assumed that you accept the definition.
- present the negative team line.
- outline briefly what each of the negative speakers will say.
- rebut a few of the main points of the first affirmative speaker.
- the 1st negative should spend about one quarter of their time rebutting.
- present the first half of the negative team's case.
2nd affirmative must:
- reaffirm the affimative's team line.
- rebut the main points presented by the 1st negative.
- the 2nd affirmative should spend about one third of their time rebutting.
- present the second half of the affirmative's case. 3rd affirmative must:
- reaffirm the affirmative's team line.
- rebut all the remaining points of the negative's case.
- the 3rd affirmative should spend about two thirds to three quarters of their time rebutting.
- present a summary of the affirmative's case.
- round off the debate for the affirmative. In debating each team will present points in favour of their case. They will also spend some time criticising the arguments presented by the other team. This is called rebuttal. There are a few things to remember about rebuttal.
1. Logic - to say that the other side is wrong is not enough. You have to show why the other side is wrong. This is best done by taking a main point of the other side's argument and showing that it does not make sense. Because a lot of the thinking for this needs to be done quickly this is one of the most challenging and enjoyable aspects of debating. 2. Pick the important points - try to rebut the most important points of the other side's case. You will find that after a while these are easier and easier to spot. One obvious spot to find them is when the first speaker of the other team outlines briefly what the rest of the team will say. But do not rebut those points until after they have actually been presented by the other team.
3. `Play the ball' - do not criticise the individual speakers, criticise what they say. To call someone fat, ugly or a nerd does not make what they say wrong and it will also lose you marks. What is a topic ? The Definition The Team line The Roles of the speakers What is a debate? Matter is what you say, it is the substance of your speech. You should divide your matter into arguments and examples.
An argument is a statement "The topic is true (or false depending on which side you are on) because of x", where the argument fills in for the x . For example in the topic "That the zoos should be closed" an argument may be: "the zoos should be closed because they confine the animals in an unnatural environment".
An example is a fact or piece of evidence which supports an argument. If our argument is: "that zoos should be closed because they confine the animals in an unnatural environment" then an example might be: "that in the lion cage at Taronga Park Zoo in Sydney the animals only have about 200 square metres where in the wild they would have 2000 square kilometres to roam in.". What is Matter ? Where matter is what you say method is how you organise what you say.
Good team method involves unity and logic.
You must structure your own speech well. The first step is to have a clear idea of your own arguments and which examples you will be using to support those arguments. What is method? Manner is how you present what you say and there are various aspects of manner that you need to be aware of. The best advice you can get is to develop a manner style that is natural to you. Here are some tips and pointers.
1. CUE CARDS. Do not write out your speech on cue cards. Debating is an exercise in lively interaction between two teams and between the teams and the audience, not in reading a speech.
2. EYE CONTACT. Is very closely related to cue cards. If you look at the audience you will hold their attention.
3. VOICE. There are many things you can do with your voice to make it effective. You must project so that you can be heard but 4 minutes of constant shouting will become very annoying very quickly. Use volume, pitch and speed to emphasise important points in your speech. A sudden loud burst will grab your audience's attention while a period of quiet speaking can draw your audience in and make them listen carefully. 4. BODY. "Work it baby, work it!". Make hand gestures deliberately and with confidence. Move your head and upper body to maintain eye contact with all members of the audience. If you want to walk up and down do so but move with effect and deliberately. If you are going to stand still, stand with confidence. Don't let your body apologise for your presence by appearing nervous.
5. NERVOUS HABITS. Avoid them like the plague.
6. ELOCUTION AND OTHER BIG WORDS. This is not an exercise in grammar or elocution. Try to avoid being too informal but don't go overboard the other way. What is Manner ? Every adjudicator marks to a standard. You will get a mark out of 40 for matter, 40 for manner and 20 for method, a mark out of 100 total. The Marking Scheme Let's have our own debate. Corporal Punishment Video Questions What did parents do after they saw students being hit at their school? What happened to the teacher that was caught on camera hitting his students? Do you agree with the Vice Principle at the school, who said the teacher didn't physically harm the students? Do you think because it is hard to control students, that corporal punishment is necessary? Do you think it is a good idea that the government has closed the loop hole, in regard to using corporal punishment only for education purposes? Do you think not using corporal punishment in schools, has led to students behaving more badly? Do you remember what percentage of parents thought corporal punishment for educational purposes was needed? Do you think the conservatives are right to be concerned, in regard to the break down of discipline, and educational standards, if the liberals get their way?