What's the Point?

It's the roughest point in the year for me.

The point halfway through when I haven't been in that nice swing of things that the University schedule provides. It's all planning and no action. And I hate planning.

One of the advantages of the European model of doing debate is that it's all done, for the most part, individually. There are no administrators, coaches, or what have you trying to look out for the long term health of the program. It would be so nice to have a primarily self-funded system where individuals decide where and what they would like to attend.

This time of year is depressing for me. It's all figuring out due dates for assignments, meeting times and places, and budget restrictions. No fun at all.  So I'm always forced to ask: What's the point?

Hard to give a positive answer right now. But the question remains. It's one of those questions. Questions like the stray spark from the campfire that they thought they had put out. But now the whole forest is threatened.

There's always a temptation to just let the thing burn. I'm really interested in burning things down right now, ideologically speaking. Ecologically, sometimes this is a good thing - it supports new growth. But this sort of fire can't be lit carelessly.

The best answer that I can come up with now is the preservation of debate for those who would not be interested unless someone pushed them a little.

Self-selective debate is dangerous. Sportified debate - that is, debate run like a sports club - is nearsighted. The point is to make sure that everyone gets a shot at debating, not just those who believe they would like to show off how well they can beat others with words.

The point is, I suppose, to provide opportunity for praxis in a University setting where less and less space is reserved for action and reflection.

I also think the point might be to carve out a small corner of the University where students must present and defend their opinions to one another, in front of others who are also students. Yes, I'm aware the positions are assigned. What I am talking about is the more important presentation - the discussion after the practice debate.

And finally perhaps the point might be to force everyone to look up once in a while, look at one another and ask, "What's the point of meeting like this?"

It's the start of a new semester for me in a couple of days. I've been teaching debate at this institution for about 4 and a half years now. I've been teaching debate formally to others since I was about 18. And I feel less prepared to grapple with this question than ever.

Let's stomp on this ember a bit together, shall we?