The International High School Debate Experience

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This week marks the beginning of the National Forensic League (NFL) National Tournament in Kansas City. About 11 years ago at this time I was preparing to travel to my first NFL nationals ever. When I was a high school debater I remember chatting with my team mates about how cool it would be if there was a national championship in high school debating. We were very much unaware that the NFL existed, and were quite happy that the UIL state tournament in Austin was our season ending tournament. Needless to say, I was very excited and very curious what NFL nationals would be like. I am certain that everyone who is either in Kansas City or on their way will have a fantastic debating experience this week.

Reading about the preparations for the tournament over on the Global Debate Blog got me thinking – I know next to nothing about the high school or secondary school experiences of debaters in other countries. What is secondary school debating like for those outside the United States? I would love any and all comments and/or links to posts discussing it.

One of the things I am most curious about is how the secondary education debate experience normalizes the university debating experience in the U.S. For example, most high school policy debaters have a vision of CEDA/NDT debating – it’s faster in delivery, it’s deeper on the research, and it allows for more radical argumentation. It’s the same basic recipe for debating however – not much changes between high school and university debate as far as the theory, rules, speaker order, and philosophy surrounding the tournaments. I imagine the transition from one’s secondary format to the World’s format might require a bit of adjustment. It might not though, since many Australs debaters have enjoyed spectacular success at Worlds, and many attribute it to the skills and practices picked up while doing Australs format tournaments.

Another thing – are secondary school debate programs faculty directed? What’s it like to move to a student run club from such a background? In the US, those who participate in APDA sanctioned tournaments or on those teams can speak to that transition in the U.S. to student run programs. But I would like to hear some experiences that you might have had.

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