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«Beginner’s Practical Guide to Policy Debate For Middle School and Novice Debaters Formerly titled as The Super-Novice File: A Guide to Entry-Level ...»

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Beginner’s Practical Guide

to Policy Debate

For Middle School and Novice Debaters

Formerly titled as The Super-Novice File: A Guide to Entry-Level Policy Debate.

By Ryan Childress

Edited by Molly Bunton

Advised by Tracy Dalton, Missouri State University


Table of Contents


------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ iii

Acknowledgements ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- v Introduction -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 1 Unit I—Public Speaking and Presentation Fundamentals ------------------------------------------------------------------------ 1 Dress Etiquette



Appropriate Gestures

Unit II—Argument Construction and Development ---------------------------------------------------------------------------- 5 Deny



Clear Wording of Arguments

Proper Procedure for Attacking Arguments

Unit III—Research ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 7 Syntax Operators


Last Modified Date Command

Other Search Engines

Specialized Think Tank Sites

Start Looking for Solvency Evidence

Unit IV—Identification and Organization of Evidence ------------------------------------------------------------------------ 12 Source Citations


Highlighting and Sizing Evidence

Creating Appropriate Font Styles

Microsoft Word 2003

Microsoft Word 2007

Unit V—Time Limits and Speech Orders in Policy Debate -------------------------------------------------------------------- 18 Unit VI—The Buffet of Judges---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 19 Lay Judges

Current Varsity Debaters/Recently Graduated High School Debaters

Former Debaters


College Judges

Unit VII—Assembling the Affirmative Case & Delivering Affirmative Speeches -------------------------------------------- 24 iii The Five Stock Issues

Picking Your Case Type

Writing Plan Text

Creating Advantages

The Second Affirmative Constructive (2AC)

Unit VIII—Developing the Negative Strategy -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------31 The First Negative Constructive (1NC)

The Second Negative Constructive (2NC)

Unit IX—The Rebuttals------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ 33 The First Negative Rebuttal (1NR)

The First Affirmative Rebuttal (1AR)

The Second Negative Rebuttal (2NR)

The Second Affirmative Rebuttal (2AR)

Unit X—Topicality ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 35 The Negative Shell

The Affirmative Answers to Topicality

Unit XI—Disadvantages ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 39 The Negative Team’s Disadvantage

Affirmative Answers to a Disadvantage

Unit XII—Judging Paradigms ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ 41 Stock Issues Judge

Tabula Rasa

Policy Maker

Unit XIII—Conclusion ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 42 References -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 43 Glossary ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 44 Appendix A: Evidence Template ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 46 Appendix B: Example of a Comparative-Advantage Case --------------------------------------------------------------------- 47 Appendix C: Standards for Topicality-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 53 Appendix D: Example of a Disadvantage ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 54 Appendix E: Answers to a Disadvantage ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 57 iv

–  –  –

By Ryan Childress This manual identifies persuasive public speaking, professional presentation, and policy debate argumentation skills for entry-level high school policy debaters wanting a better understanding and application of policy debate arguments. Male debaters should wear a suit and tie that is not excessively colorful for debate rounds. Female debaters should also wear a skirt or pant suit, depending on their coach’s preference. Debaters need to format their arguments by stating the argument they are attacking, indicating the quantity of responses they have, and then giving their responses. Gestures, such as the indication gesture, should be used to provide emphasis to certain arguments made. Debaters need to speak slowly, clearly, with pauses, and with pitch variation. The posture of a good debater involves standing feet shoulder-width apart with the knees slightly bent and the chin parallel to the ground. Tools for researching using popular search engines are discussed, as well as ways to limit searches to the precise information debaters are looking for. Using syntax operators, such as quotes, AND, OR, and the asterisk (*) symbol help limit the searches performed on internet search engines. Building an affirmative case means deciding what type of case to use (comparative advantage, problem/solution, or goals). Further, debaters need to use a paragraph plan text as opposed to a plan plank format. Negative teams need to develop a coherent strategy that involves solvency attacks, disadvantages, and topicality arguments, if applicable.

Topicality arguments must have a definition, violation, standards to prefer the interpretation, and reasons why the argument is a voting issue. Disadvantages include uniqueness, link, and impact evidence.

Keywords: policy debate, affirmative case, disadvantage, topicality.



The manual you are about to read is a compilation of seven years of listening. I had the special privilege of being taught by some of the best coaches in the country. The knowledge contained in this manual comes from them. You will notice very few source citations. It is because I honestly cannot remember who taught me which part. All I can say is that I should be given little, if any, credit for these arguments. I am not the creator of them. I am merely the vehicle through which these messages travel.

I would first like to thank Mr. David Watkins, the Director of Forensics at Neosho High School. His constant dedication to debate and overwhelming support for me personally has been one of the biggest influences in my life. If I graduate from college, I will be the first in my entire family to ever attain a Bachelor degree. I do not know what you saw in me Mr. Watkins; but whatever it was, it changed my life forever. You have been one of the greatest influences in my life. I will never forget what you did for me.

I would also like to thank Dr. Eric Morris, Dr. Heather Walters, Director and Assistant Director of Forensics at Missouri State University. Their dedication and sheer strategic genius taught me a level of understanding of debate I never thought possible. Your ability to craft specific strategies into complex arguments impresses even the best debaters. Thank you for all your time and wisdom.

This book would also not exist without the kind donation of Mr. Michael Kearney, former high school and collegiate debater turned Assistant Coach for Missouri State University. He wrote the comparative advantage case located in Appendix B of this manual. His kindness and sheer genius has taken him far and is always much appreciated.

I would also like to thank Mrs. Nancy Wedgeworth, Director of Forensics for Parkview High School. As an esteemed coach in Missouri and at the national level, Mrs. Wedgeworth has put together an impressive group of debaters at Parkview High School. Her love for her debaters extends far beyond the typical coach-debater relationship. She has been a great personal inspiration to me and has graciously allowed me to be her assistant through most of my undergraduate career. This has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life that words scarcely begin to describe.

Finally, I would like to thank the debaters of Parkview High School. I am blown away every time I watch your rounds; you really are one of the best squads in the country. On top of that, each one of you is an excellent person. I look forward to seeing you every time I go to Parkview. You make me happy, even when my days are less than great. Thank you for letting me be a part of your life.

This manual is for all of you. I hope others can add to it and make it better. I just want to thank all of you one more time, for everything.

Love Always, Ryan Originally Written for: ENG 321: Writing II: Beginning Technical Writing, taught by Mrs. Tracy Dalton, Missouri State University; 3 February 2009


Debate is an instrumental skill. In all situations, one must know how to present their ideas and, most importantly, defend them. The ability to present and defend your arguments is a skill necessary in casual conversation as well as job acquisition and advancement.

It strikes me as very strange that in this very complex, life-changing activity there are only two rules:

speech times and speech orders. Everything else in any debate is what you can get away with (M. Bostick, personal communication, 30 August 2005). For example, you may be limited in how long and in what sequence you may speak, but nobody in high school debate can stand up during your speech and stop you. You are free to say and do, within legal limits, what is best for your team.

The other fascinating part of this activity is the variety of ways to win a debate round. As a personal example, two of my close friends debated a team our junior year of high school at a debate tournament in Kansas City, Missouri, that had three unrelated ideas in their plan. The problem with this particular case was the affirmative team told the judge to pick her favorite idea. My friends ran several disadvantages, all based on the theory that one of their ideas would link to the argument.

Later, my partner and I hit the same team. Instead of arguing disadvantages, my partner and I argued that their plan was abusive and we were unable to develop a proper strategy given they advocated three completely different ideas. Both my friends and my partner and I won that round. We had completely different approaches, yet we still won. Debate will teach you many things, but most importantly, it teaches you there is more than one way to do something right.

This manual identifies persuasive public speaking, professional presentation, and policy debate argumentation skills for entry-level high school policy debaters wanting a better understanding and application of policy debate arguments.

Unit I—Public Speaking and Presentation Fundamentals Before you can step into a debate round, there are several things you need to know. Much of the debating you will do starts long before you walk into the room and ends long after the round is over.

General etiquette, coupled with proper dress and demeanor, often say much more in debate rounds than the arguments you deliver.

Dress Etiquette The specific dress varies from location to location. Further, dress varies between what is acceptable for men as opposed to what is acceptable for women. As general rule, present yourself in the “most conservative and professional manner” (Robert, 2007). In debate rounds, the judges need to be focusing more on what you are saying than the eccentricity of your wardrobe.

Men should always wear a suit. These suits should not attract too much attention, so a color such as black, navy, or gray would be acceptable. Shirts should have a fair amount of starch, but not come directly from the dryer. White shirts should be white as opposed to off-white or yellow (Roberts, 2007).

Finally, “Men’s ties should be seen and not heard” (Robert, 2007). Men should strive for dark, neutral colors when preparing for a debate. Exotic suits, shirts, and ties typically distract the judges and make the person wearing them appear immature.

Women are also encouraged to wear a suit. Similar rules of color apply, which means a dark color, such as black, navy, or gray, would be preferred. Women should not wear large, exotic jewelry, but instead should wear jewelry that is small, manageable, and makes one look professional. If choosing a skirt, make sure it is “at knee length” (Roberts, 2007). Finally, women need to wear pantyhose with shoes that have heels (Roberts, 2007).

Another important topic for women is the decision to wear a skirt or a pant suit. Women are increasingly wearing pant suits in the professional world. As a debater, your decision to wear a skirt or a pant suit depends on two factors: your coach and your event. If your coach prefers a skirt, obey the wishes of your coach. If your coaches allow pant suits, consider your activity. For example, extemporaneous speakers would probably not move around very much and a skirt would therefore be appropriate. Actors performing humorous interpretations, on the other hand, may move around more and should therefore consider clothing that is less revealing in certain situations.

Posture Now that you are appropriately dressed, you are almost ready to begin your speech. A judge usually notices first the way you dress, then how you stand. Whenever you stand up to give a speech, imagine that you are in front of Congress. The individuals in the crowd represent your fellow legislators. How would you address such a prestigious body? By leaning on the podium and bouncing up and down? I hope not.

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