Some study areas are a "natural" to teach through debate, either directly in conjunction with debate or indirectly as a supplement.
We've listed our favorite resources in each subject area that we found helpful to prepare a current or future debate student.
Debate naturally encompasses learning good speaking skills. The most intelligent argument will be lost if it can't be understood or heard due to poor speaking skills.
In preparation of debating events, or before becoming involved, have your student practice reading selections from stories or factual articles while speaking clearly with a loud voice, good ennunciation and pleasant phrasing. The piece should be read with some emotional character to avoid being monotone but should not be overly-dramatic. They should also practice using good eye contact with their audience, taking time to look up and speak to the listeners as they recite.
A step further is to have them then explain what they just read in their own words. (good ole' Charlotte Mason type narration). This will strengthen their comprehension and impromptu skills.
During debate events it will be important to convey your team's position with clear communication and application to the judge. Debaters should continue to practice good speaking skills in their debate rounds. Debaters are judged on these speaking skills individually during the debate rounds.
Research and Internet Skills
Each debate topic will require study to understand the topic and the government policy about which the resolution is arguing. Also, both policy and values debate arguments are supported by evidence from experts.
Debaters gain research skills as they sift through information looking for expert sources and understanding of their topics.
It is helpful to have a computer connected to the internet to practice research skills. We tell our students "Google is our friend" and have taught them how to do "advance" searches to narrow the information down.
Become familiar, if you haven't already, with the research section of the library. Black's Law Dictionary and other reference materials will be available there. Professional periodicals will also be accessible at the libary (as well as on the internet if you have journal access.) Talk with the research librarian to learn how to effectively use the reference section.
Logic and Reasoning Skills
Application of good logic and reasoning is crucial in argumentation. Debate is an excellent vehicle to teach and practice logic skills.
Our favorite quick studies in logic and reasoning are the two Bluedorn books "The Fallacy Detective
" and "The Thinking Toolbox
." Both of those books teach basic logic and reasoning skills in a fun way that will be very useful in debate. The Fallacy Detective website
has a number of informative and fun articles, additional logic resources, and provides sign up for a periodic newsletter.
Analysis of Current Events
To gain critical reading and analysis skills about current events, "The Student Daily News
" provides online daily news selections analyzed from a Christian perspective. Students may go online and read the selections and then take the optional weekly quizzes. Parents can sign up to have the answer key to the weekly quizzes emailed directly to them. An excellent free resource for current politics.
God's World News
also provides a monthly printed magazine that discusses current events from a Christian perspective. The magazine subscription (about $25 per year) is arranged according to student grade level. Order the level for your student. (Top Story
levels would be appropriate for upper junior high and high school.)
Government and Economics
Since the debate argument in "policy debate" is over whether a certain government policy should be changed, understanding some basic federal government and economic principles is essential for effective policy debate arguments.
If your student has not already studied government or economics separately, the annual policy topic will offer a natural "launching pad" to study how federal laws are made, how administrative agencies enforce them, how judicial decisions interpret the laws, and how the laws affect the economics of our nation.
For a first federal government primer, we suggest "Government 101: A Beginner's Guide to the Federal Government"
by Laurie Petrisin. This short booklet provides a concise overview of our American system of federal government and how laws are made. We highly recommend it for all policy debate students who have not had a government course prior to beginning debate.
We would add to this "The Story of the Constitution
" published by Christian Liberty Press. "The Story of the Constitution" is not meant to be a full government course, however it does mean to study the founding document of our American government, from a Christian perspective, and that it does well. In its coverage of the Constitution, however, it does end up covering a lot of how our American system of government works--and naturally so since it is the document that created that system. Since team policy debate argues federal policy, which should adhere to our Constitutional standard (contrary to what some modern politicians may think), a thorough understanding of the Constitution is very beneficial and rounds the student's studies for both debate and government as well as helping them become a well-informed citizen.
If desired, fill in state and local government with sections of Christian Liberty Press "Land of Fair Play
." Written at a junior high level, it provides a good overview of our different government systems (federal, state, and local) and the concepts of civic duty.
For the motivated who want to dig deeper in their study of government, and possibly prepare for the American Government CLEP exam for college credit, round out with Clarence Carson's "Basic Government
" in whole or in section (especially the court case studies). This is not a concise book, but Carson's works are brilliant; and this book covers both the history and structure of our American form of government with insightful commentary and important Supreme Court cases that have transformed our government from what it was originally intended to be to the progressive form it is today.
For those families who prefer a less eclectic approach and want to complete a separate full government study that is still understandable and concise, we recommend Notgrass "Exploring Government.
" The student text can be used as a stand alone spine. The addition of the original source documents book ("We Hold These Truths"
) adds further depth beyond the standard textbook. Optional tests provide materials for a full separate course.
For those looking for supplemental historical depth, Wall Builders
"Of God and Government" video series provides a detailed history of the Christian heritage behind our American system of government which is often glossed over in other curriculum (and denied by secular). Their website provides a number of online resources.
We recommend that all policy debate students read "Free Enterprise Economics in America
" by Tom Rose. This short booklet packs a lot of information into its quick read. Although short, it lays a solid foundation of why the American system of free enterprise is based upon Christian principles and why it provides both prosperity and freedom for its citizens and how government intervention interfers with both.
While we have many favorite economics books, we can recommend this trio for a concise non-technical but thorough eclectic study of economics that would be easy to do alongside debate. Begin with "How We Live: Economic Wisdom Simplified
" by Fred C. Clark for a short primer of basic concepts of work, tools, employment and the capital system. Next follow with Whatever Happened to Penny Candy
by Richard Mayberry which provides a quick, fun study of basic economic principles from a conservative libertarian approach (albeit not from a Christian worldview). "Penny Candy
" lays a good foundation for understanding how the government's actions affect economic stability, what prompts business cycles, and how the real value of things is determined. Then finish with "Economics in One Lesson
" by Henry Hazlitt which lays out common economic fallacies and why they won't work even though modern politicians continue to contend they will -- in spite of historical proof they don't. These books are very useful for the policy debate student since all government policy impacts a nation's economics whether it was intended to do so or not.
For an advanced economic read, Clarence Carson's "Basic Economics
" provides both historical analysis as well as examination of the various economic systems. His insightful and probing analysis won't be a quick read, but it will be a valuable read that is still approachable for the motivated high school student.
For a full, separate economics study from a Christian perspective that is easily understandable, we recommend Notgrass "Exploring Economics."
The student text can be used as a stand alone spine. The addition of the original source documents book ("We Hold These Truths"
) adds further depth. Optional tests provide materials for a full separate course.
Since our purpose is to create effective communicators for Christ, worldview is another natural subject area to teach with debate. Discussion over the debate topic lends well to worldview discussions.
Both policy and value styles of debate will implement understanding of worldviews as applied to personal values, theology, philosophy, and ethics. Policy debate also implements worldview application in government, economics and law.
Our "hands-down" favorite Christian worldview study is Focus on the Family's "The Truth Project DVD Series
." If you can find a church or study group going through that study, we highly recommend joining it.
Our favorite very quick study on worldview is another Focus on the Family resource...Frank Peretti's presentation "God's Way or My Way
." It is a very entertaining, biblically presented nutshell of all worldviews with a powerful message. All packed in about 60 minutes on an audio cd.
We also highly recommend reading David Noebel's "Understanding the Times, 2nd Edition
" for a good comparison of different worldview types (secular humanism, Marxism, cosmic humanism, post-modernism, islamic, and Christian) as applied in separate disciplines (theology, philosophy, ethics, biology, psychology, sociology, law, politics, economics and history). Chapters stand alone within the discipline topics. Law, politics and economics are especially helpful for policy debate. Ethics and philosophy are especially helpful for values debate. All chapters are excellent and useful in understanding how the different worldviews impact each subject area in our society.
Further helpful reading can be found in Francis Schaeffer's "How Shall We Then Live
" (both in book and video series) and David Breese's "7 Men Who Rule the World from the Grave
." These provide solid foundations although not light reading. (You can usually find these books in most church libraries and often in your county library.)
For ongoing worldview support and research, we recommend the Chuck Colson Center's Wilberforce Library
which includes current articles arranged by world spheres, article type, and comprehension levels (highschool through graduate level). We also recommend Chuck Colson's daily e-commentary "Breakpoint
" which deals with current events and social situations from a Christian worldview (some topics are of adult nature but all are presented in a non-graphic and Biblical way).