Public Forum Debate; Or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Tell My Friends They’re Wrong
“Public Forum Debate; Or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Tell My Friends They’re Wrong” is a twelve week introductory course to public forum debate. Students will learn not only the basics of a round and the principles behind public forum, but also learn how to strategize before and during a debate and how to engage in creative rhetoric and argumentation. Each week will provide a new lecture with exercises to be completed during class, then students will complete one task during the week, like researching for arguments. The “final project” will be that students will participate in and judge one round in front of their peers.
Here is the rundown of each week, with expectations for work:
1.) Fundamentals of Public Forum: Students will learn the overall principles of public forum debate and the basic structure of a public forum round; they will fill out a worksheet with round structure, principles, and what makes a good debater/public speaker.
2.) Speech by Speech: Students will learn the intent and basic logic behind each public forum speech and the basic logic behind breaking down a resolution into debatable points; they will fill out a worksheet with basic logic of each speech and questions about the resolution.
3.) Research: Students learn about how to evaluate, find, and utilize sources. Students will find at least one resource of background information and four resources for potential arguments.
4.) Research and contention writing day: Students will spend the class finding sources and putting together arguments. They will be asked to write their first contention, with cases due in two weeks.
5.) Rebuttal: Students will learn the basics of rebuttal speeches, how to refute arguments and rebuttals, and learn how to create blocks. They will be asked to write rebuttals of two arguments and will be asked to write rebuttals of at least five arguments in two weeks.
6.) Summary/Final Focus: Students will learn how to distill the major issues of the round into bullet points. They will have cases done, and I will ask them to revise them. They will also continue to find blocks.
7.) Cross-examination: Students will learn how to ask questions. They will formulate questions for their partner’s case.
8.) Debate finesse: Students will learn rhetorical strategies to carry out in rounds. I will give them feedback for their blocks and ask them to revise.
9.) Speaking drills: Students will practice speaking drills, focusing on pitch, tone, speed, and improvisatory thinking. I will give them a practice resolution and ask them to write mock cases for a scrimmage next week.
10.) Speaking drills: Students will rehearse for their rounds with the mock resolution. I will ask students to find a few more blocks in preparation for their debate.
11.) Debate: Half the class will do a debate. The other half will judge and produce their ballots as proof.
12.) Debate: Same as above.
The course will be more lecture heavy at first, but students will always have time to participate and ask questions, and the last four courses are dedicated to speaking drills and practices. Students will be put into teams on week four, and I will ask them to meet with their partners to discuss strategy. Time will be set aside on week 9 for them to confer with their partners and I, and I will set up office hours if anyone needs help. Just email me!
– Samuel Fishman (he/him/his)
What Will I Learn?
- Public speaking/debating