Susan Herbst, chief academic officer for the University System of Georgia, recently wrote an Inside Higher Ed piece and made a strong argument for incorporating the principles of policy debate into a curriculum dedicated to improving the critical thinking skills of students.
While there are other approaches that have incorporated argumentation into the curriculum, those efforts can be further improved by teaching the principles of debate to students. Students who are exposed to debate, learn to identify components of a rational argument, methods of assessing evidence credibility, the importance of identifying both sides of a contested issue, and the capacity to listen critically to claims made on both sides of an issue.
The criticism, or Kritik, has been much maligned by its detractors and furiously defended by its proponents. The scope of this essay is not to pick one side or another, but rather to provide an analysis of why the critique fails to persuade and identify some helpful tips for debaters that want to be able to go for the critique in front of a diverse array of judges.
Kritik debate faces a significantly changed set of circumstances from those when I first began debating in college in 1999. At the great risk of writing an old-curmudgeonly account of the decline of kritik debate I want to outline some of where we’ve been, where we are, and where we might be able to go.
At the beginning of last summer, the Georgia Debate Union coaching staff made the decision to transition from traditional paper evidence to paperless debate. There are a variety of reason to make this change, and it is enough of a commitment that having clear reasons is important to keep the project on track. The purpose of this post is to outline our reasons for implementing paperless debate at UGA. If you are trying to decide whether paperless is right for you or the debate team you are responsible for, perhaps this will help you decide.
Going paperless changes a lot more about debate than just what materials you bring to the tournament. Almost every facet of the activity—from argument conceptualization to evidence production to in-round execution—will eventually be revamped to harness the advantages and minimizes the limitations of purely electronic debating.