Final Exams Abound But Still A Busy Time for Debate

What to do in the summer - this is a popular question right now for my students. What can we do to prevent our skills from atrophying?

1) Do your daily workout! This means reading up on global events from global perspectives. Do you see a name or an institution that you aren't familiar with? Keep it in a notebook. This should be a daily habit for at least half an hour every morning.

2) Research! Take that notebook and for a couple of hours a week go into the details of those governments or organizations you don't know much about. Research and write it down in summary form. This helps you remember it but also creates a reference notebook for you to look at during prep time.

3)Find Outlets - here in New York City we are lucky to have the NYC Debate club which meets every Sunday in Manhattan. If you don't have something like this, get together with friends and discuss the issues, or even set up some electronic meetings with teammates via Skype or possibly Second Life.

4)Drill Yourself - Watch debating videos on the internet and assign yourself a speech, then give it and record it. Watch the speech the person in the video gives and compare. What did you miss, what did they miss?

5) Take on the Big Issues - Pick a few books to read on those big philosophical or economic frames that you hear people arguing all season. Seriously read them, making notes or better yet outline the book as if it were an argument (because it probably is one). Then use this outline to help yourself prep for framework debates or framing the debate if you are opening government. Not sure what to read? Check out a dictionary or encyclopedia of philosophy, and consult the references in the entry for the philosophy you would like to know more about.

This is extremely important for American teams that are faculty driven. The summer is seen as a vacation, but in other countries there are still tournaments and debate keeps going. In order to compete with these teams one must not take the summer off from debate, but must take the summer on in a different manner.

Oh, and don't forget to study for finals!