Why Should Students Jump into Team Policy Debate? By: Marc Davis

Marc Davis has joined the Lasting Impact! Team! We are super excited to have him, and Brenda Storz, leading our Online Team Policy Club this fall! Check out his reasoning as to why you or your students should do TP…

As someone who has been immersed in policy debate for over half of my life, it’s sometimes difficult to see an outside perspective when I try to channel my enthusiasm for Team Policy Debate. Allow me to make an attempt.

The Search For Truth

The era in which we live right now can be categorized by the deluge of information we have available to us at all times (sometimes whether we want it or not). Along with that comes a steady stream of lies and misinformation. Sorting through the muck to find what is true and good is a monumental task. Debate helps train our critical thinking skills, giving us the mental resources we need to fight against the lies. It’s not a perfect tool, but it’s the most effective one I’ve seen. Policy debate has students compete against each other in a battle of ideas and information. In those competitive fires their minds are sharpened and strengthened.

Decision-making

There are many forms of debate, and the two most popular are Lincoln Douglas and Team Policy. While I have great respect for LD, I believe that policy debate is a more comprehensive and immediate style. Simply put, policy debate is about how to make decisions. In each round the participants will argue over a governmental policy change related to a broad topic. The fundamental question of the round is whether or not that policy should be adopted. 

It’s a simple question, but finding an answer is endlessly complex. Policy debate is training in how to sort out those complexities. What information is reliable? How do we interpret this information? How does that play into our decision? What do we value? A good policy debate is a rich tapestry of information and argument.

Lincoln Douglas debate is what we call “value debate,” and it’s much more focused. It pits two values against each other, typically in a particular context, and debates those values in abstract. Such discussions also occur in policy debate. For example, with the NCFCA resolution for the upcoming season regarding federal prisons, the question of “what is justice?” will be fundamental to nearly every round.

Teamwork

Other than the subject matter, the major difference between TP and LD is the number of participants. LD has individual debaters pitted against each other. TP has teams of two working together. Navigating the ups and downs of a partnership in a competitive game is a wonderful skill to cultivate, and dedicated students will spend hundreds of hours over the course of a season working with their partner towards a shared goal. 

The Bottom Line Is Fun

I could go on about all of the different ways in which debate trained my mind. I could point to specific “life skills” (as much as I dislike that phrase) it aids me with, even years later. But the biggest reason to participate in policy debate is that it’s incredibly fun. It’s fun not in a superficial sense, as in the way seeing a summer popcorn flick is fun. It’s fun in the way team sports or theater is fun: it brings people closer together in the pursuit of mastery. It contains great triumphs and great failures. It makes improvement visceral, as students can hear their speaking become more eloquent and feel their minds become quicker.

Beyond the fun of sports or theater, debate also gives the participants a real feeling of maturity as they develop their minds for the kinds of everyday decisions that determine who they are as people. In hindsight “fun” was too trivial a word. Debate provides the satisfaction of excellence. Regardless of how students place in tournaments, if they stick with the activity they emerge as different people. Debate, far more often than not, is life-changing.

Join Us

Now the pitch. We’re offering a policy debate club this fall to introduce And re-introduce students to this wonderful activity. We’ve taught hundreds of students over the past handful of years and our enthusiasm is as high as ever. We can’t wait to jump back in and guide students through this challenging and delightful journey. Parents will benefit from joining in as well by learning how to better support their student, their local club, and to confidently judge policy rounds better. Join this awesome opportunity by signing up for Online TP TODAY!

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