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The Reflection

English teacher Becky Calvert explains what it’s like to take debate

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Debate class isn’t just about forming arguments, there is actually a lot of note-taking and quizzes students have to do as well. Becky Calvert is seen here creating lessons, and her final exam for debate class. Photo taken by Natalie Herson and Maddie Hough.

“I love teaching debate class, I absolutely love it,” Calvert says.

“It’s not just a bunch of people getting up in front of the class and yelling at each other,” English teacher Becky Calvert says. “I think that is a common misconception.”

Debate class is a class taught by Becky Calvert, in which students are taught methods of debating amongst each other, and how to successfully structure valid arguments.

“We start the class trying to get comfortable with each other and creating an atmosphere that is positive for people to feel free to speak up,” she said.”So we do a lot of group activities, small group discussions, large group discussions, things like that. And then once we have that positive atmosphere built, then we move onto learning the procedures of the debate.”

There are three types of debate: parliamentary, policy and Lincoln-Douglas. Parliamentary debate is where a group of three to four people debate against another group of three to four people. Policy debate is two versus two, and Lincoln-Douglas is one versus one.

Calvert talks about her current debate class, how far they have come, and what sort of goals they’ve accomplished since the beginning of the year.

“They have come so far from the first day of school; when they just wanted to get up and argue with each other.  They dive into the research now, they come prepared, they have valid arguments, they have evidence to support their statements, they can effectively cross-examine their opponent, and they can take on-the-spot questions from the audience while persuading them as well. They’ve done a great job and have come a long way.”

Debate class can be nerve-racking, however. Students who want to join a debate class should most likely take a public speaking class, or have experience with speaking in front of a large group of people. Research is also a large part of forming debates; ProCon.org is a common site used by students for research.

“They should feel comfortable speaking in front of a class,” Calvert said. “They should be comfortable with research, because there is also a lot of research that goes into a debate; the more prepared you are the better you’ll do.”

The final exam for debate class is approximately 70 questions long, consisting of standard true and false, matching and multiple choice questions. There is also a written portion of the exam, where students are to build an argument for or against a predetermined topic, and persuade their reader.

“I love seeing people have good arguments, and I love people trying to persuade. It’s not very stressful at all, it’s more fun for me,” she said. “I really enjoy the beginning when people are kind of nervous and unsure, and then at the end when they’re confidant, and you take away the podium and they’re up in front of the class with no notes or anything. I love to hear their thoughts on these topics that are current and important to them, so I wouldn’t say it’s stressful at all.”

By Dylan Grosser


Abigail Stark
About

My name is Abigail Stark. I am a sophomore and a first year staff member. I enjoy writing opinion and review articles, and look forward to a successful year!

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