Wednesday, July 13, 2016

What about girls? (Why should they learn debate?)

After my recent post on encouraging male leadership you might find yourself saying, "What about girls?"  Yes, I have two and also want to encourage young women in the role God has for them.

A few of my favorite NCFCA girls!

Several years ago I had a mom ask me why I encouraged my girls to do speech and debate.  She went on to say that she "got it" for boys, but why girls?  Now, I assume she meant she "got it" for boys because of the great training it is in speaking, thinking, confidence, research, leadership and more.  Further, I assume she "got it" for boys because they would need these skills.  This mom seemed puzzled and curious why I would think this is necessary or helpful for girls (especially the debate part as I recall.) I truly don't remember my exact answer, as I was a little surprised, but my thinking was something along these lines.

My girls need it as much as boys, perhaps even more!  Why?  In my life, I have had to lead in many situations and needed the confidence and poise to be able to handle tough things in a public setting while under fire.   In my life, I had to step in and be the "helpmate" and speak and lead with my husband.  In my life, I've been asked to mentor and speak to large groups both inside and outside of the church.  In my life God has given me things to say to people and I need to be able to communicate them in an effective and winsome way.  In my life, I've needed to discern truth from lies.  I suspect my girls will need to do the same.   All of these can can be learned and practiced with speech and debate.   I wish I'd had the opportunities to practice like they are getting.

I Tim 4:2 "preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction."  This is something I have strived for since high school and we have placed a high priority on in our parenting and homeschool for ALL of our children.
Perhaps one of the saddest thing I have learned about women is many have trouble staying calm in stressful situations.

A bunch of amazing NCFCA friends!
Have any of you ever watched a debate round?  My girls have been in rounds where they have been accused of saying things they didn't.  Their opponent twisted their words and presented something to the judge they didn't say.  They've been in tough cross X where they keep getting interrupted.  How are they taught to react?  Calmly.  How do they respond?  They state the truth and correct what they can.  What about the new argument that got brought up in the last speech, or the words that were twisted in closing?  They have no chance to fix it.  They have to trust that the judge will see the truth.

Sadly, my girls have witnessed me having to go through much of the same in real life.  They have learned, watched, they are practicing, and sadly, they will probably need this skill as well.

Now, I don't want to leave the wrong impression on the above mentioned problems in their rounds.  Most of the time their opponent didn't mean to "twist" their words.  It's what they "wanted" to hear, or the part they listened to and didn't "hear" the rest.  Or, they didn't think it was a "new" argument, but didn't really link it to an existing argument like they should have.  Very much the same as in real life.  The people in real life also only heard what they wanted to, were so focused on what they wanted to get out there they didn't take the time to connect the dots etc.  And maybe, just maybe, there are even times when what you said was not what you think you said!

On a bit lighter note, one of the other reasons I think being around activities and places that are teaching great skills for girls and boys is the relationships.  My kids have some of the most amazing friends, girls and boys.  Why?  They are in activities where they are learning and practicing amazing and often uncommon things.    At debate they are around kids who can and will get up and speak: say hard things, and do it well.  These kids are willing and able to discuss hard subjects.

There are other places, like camp, that we've found as good training ground.   Here they are around kids who understand service, sacrifice and dealing with often difficult interpersonal situations and problems in loving ways.  They are given leadership positions and learn how to manage various personalities.  Good stuff!

Now, don't get me wrong these same amazing friends that they can discuss freedom, liberty and social justice with also play Minecraft and watch silly YouTube videos.  They are kids!

Their peers also set a high standard.  This is something that my husband actually commented on.  He had not been to a tournament in all the years we've competed until this last year.  It was great for him to meet and get to know some of our kids friends.  He judged some events, hung around with the parents and kids and left with the distinct impression that these are some incredible families and kids that we are blessed to be among.

So much so, that he commented that he was incredibly impressed by the young men.   He was glad that our girls had such a picture of what a young man should be like.  Here the girls get to see boys who will take the initiate, tackle tough issues, lead and yes, open doors.   They aren't thinking marriage yet, but it gives a great bar for them to compare future men they might meet.  Now, that's not to rule out marriages coming out of NCFCA.  There's been several that I know of....

In fact, a mom (who shall remain nameless) I was recently talking with at a tournament this year wished this league was for college kids.  Why?  There are so many great young people here and and college would be the time where they are thinking marriage.  It's kind of funny, but really true.  We want strong marriages for our kids.  Maybe the NCFCA should think about...oh never mind...

So yes, girls do still need to be taught all those homemaking type things, but THAT'S not all.  They will face challenges in life too and speech, debate and other activities which focus on leadership and speaking can prepare them as well.

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