We attended the NCFCA regional qualifier Speech and Debate Tournament last week in Indianapolis Indiana and though we came back exhausted it was an incredibly worthwhile experience!
Last year we also competed in the NCFCA and had a team of about 14 that we practiced and worked with to get ready. This year however our team consists of 3, which has been quite a change. Because of this the, “getting ready”, for tournament process looked a little different.
It was gratifying to find that they were ready even though we felt perhaps not as prepared as we had last year.
This year both of my girls are competing. At this last tournament Lexie my youngest competed for the first time in one event. You have to be 12 by January 1, 2012 to compete and she turned twelve on December 30th. I told her I was pretty sure she was the youngest one there! Ariel who competed last year as well entered several events.
There are different speech and debate categories you can compete in. Lexie did an open interpretation which is a memorized telling/acting out of a published piece. Her piece was “Little Orphan Annie” by James Whitcome Riley. It was only 2-3 minutes long (most are close to the 10 min. max), but for her first time it was a good start.
Ariel competed in Team Policy debate and three other speech events. For debate she has a partner and they have a prepared Affirmative case which relates to this year’s resolution having to do with reforming the federal criminal justice system. She’s not real fond of this year’s topic by they learned a lot, gained confidence and won 2 out of 6 rounds. This year she’s more excited about her speeches. She entered Impromptu, Illustrated Oratory and Original Interpretation. Her Original Interpretation did well and qualified her for regionals. She ended up placing 6th which was very exciting for her!
So why do we put all this time, energy and even money into speech and debate? Well there are many reasons and it can be hard to quantify but something Ariel said when talking to someone at this tournament struck a chord.
I never heard her say this before but she told someone, “Debate makes me feel smart.” To expand on that both speech and debate I think make her feel smart because she actually is gaining so much knowledge about issues and topics in the real world that she otherwise wouldn’t. She becomes an “expert”, if you will and is able to confidently communicate the knowledge she has gained. Let’s face it, most people don’t listen to 13 years olds but in speech and debate they do.
She can carry on intelligent “arguments” that make sense and people care about hearing. Being able to do this effectively and getting feedback on ballots gives the students so much confidence while polishing and refining their skills at the same time.
You just can’t get this stuff from a textbook. The things they work with they have to “know”. It’s not just memorizing for a test but understanding on a very deep level and the students care about knowing it. They after all are going to have to understand it to present it.
I could go on but there’s a little bit of why we do speech and debate and I might add why I think it’s invaluable for EVERY student, not just the ones who like to speak already!
p.s. If you want to check out NCFCA, go to their website and connect with your state rep. If you do end up coming to watch some rounds at a tournament and it’s one I’m at please find me and introduce yourself. I’d love to meet you and tell you more!