The Arnett-Malsin lab is focused on helping students take the next step in their debate career. A number of focal points guide our curriculum:
- Debating and Drills — Nothing is more important to this lab than debating. Students will be offered daily opportunities for practice debates, speech redos, and participation in various drills. You will begin giving speeches on your first day of lab. Speech redos will be required after each debate. An assortment of exercises e.g. extending a DA, answering a link turn, overviews, will be offered on a regular basis. Debating will be a constant of the lab experience even during heavy research times.
- Research — A sophisticated comprehension of key topic issues and the ability to produce complete arguments are crucial to making the transition to the elite level of high school debate. This lab will focus on both those goals. Students will be responsible for producing complete arguments individually or in small groups. Lab leaders will work with students on assignments at every step of the process giving daily updates and suggestions. The range of possible research topics will be flexible and students will have much input into this process. We will emphasize the core topic issues, which ensures that students will be prepared to debate primary topic controversies as they begin the season. Each part of the argument construction process will be taught including initial affirmative and negative waves, block writing, and updating arguments over the course of the workshop.
- Theory and Strategy – The last piece of this puzzle is teaching sophisticated approaches to breaking down the topic and debate. What makes a good affirmative? How to approach the beginning of the year from the negative perspective? Complex theory debates will be explored covering the spectrum of debate argument e.g. Kritik, Topicality, Counterplans. It is the goal of this lab to teach students to be their own coaches and be able to win a debate starting with the beginning brainstorming stage of argument production, moving to the block writing process, and finishing with in-round execution. Advanced theory and strategy will be woven in and out of the curriculum to help guide this aim.
Three themes guide the curriculum of the Adam-Mahoney sophomore lab:
1. Debate should be fun.
When students return home excited about debate, they know they used their summer wisely, and their coach’s job is that much easier. Students leave our lab with an understanding that even the “hard work” debate is famous for can be — first and foremost — a lot of fun.
2. Sophomores need skills work, and the best way to enhance those skills is to actually debate (and receive individual feedback from top coaches).
Students in our lab debate almost every day, and our curriculum is guided by what we see in debates. Lab leaders judge almost every scheduled debate session. Because judging debates isn’t turned over to RA’s the lab curriculum accurately reflects what is actually happening in debates and curriculum can be adjusted accordingly. This ensures that lab sessions cover the topics students need, and allows our debaters to see the immediate relevance of what we are teaching to what they want to accomplish.
3. We put a heavy emphasis on clarity — not only of words but of ideas.
The true measure of speed in debate is “ideas communicated per minute,” and we teach students the preparation and presentation habits necessary to deliver smart arguments in a way that judges can understand them and vote on them.