Judging at World Schools

If you are interested in the variety of cultural difference in global debate, the most interesting variance is in how judging is treated. even though I have judged in a number of formats I still enjoy attending training sessions to see the diffences. My assumption is that the judge training will reveal assumptions about debate, argument, and style that can be quite revealing.

the training I attended today was for new judges who may have never judged World Schools before. The discussion ventered around the technical side (e.g. if this happens and then this other thing happens how many points can be docked, etc.) and hypothetical questions about strange situations that violate all the rules. I wonder if this is a result of being in the highly litigious US or if everyone is viewing a debate as an exercise in following technical directives.

The session did not have any text such as a video or even a speech to analyze which I think made grounded training difficult. The questions and responses hovered in the world of hypothesis.

overall though the training was satisfying for the judges and only suffered from two major issues:

1. There was no discussion offered and no question asked about what constitutes a good argument. Is that really that clear of an issue? The sense of "gut feeling" came up but not deeply discussed as a legitimate way to make a decision. Associated with this is the idea that form and content can easily be separated and judged. I would have grounded this in the particular situation, as sometimes a highly stylized and formal speech will not be persuasive. I think more on this and less on the technicalities of points would have been good.

2.The session really needed a common text to ground the discussion. Teaching the art of criticism without text is really difficult and some would say a bit impractical as the only response that can be given to most questions is "it depends." I think at least 1 or 2 speeches would be a good way to start the session.

Just watched Botswana vs. Japan and feel pretty good about how I judged it. My points were really low so that's what I need to work on. It's odd because in US policy debate I give very high points. In BP I'm fairly average and now in world schools I have found where I am a point tyrant. It's good to find balance in life.