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If you have dc in serious debate, what does their academic schedule look like? (former debating parents please reply as well!)

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My older dc have done NCFCA debate, so I know what serious debate/speech path looks like. We pulled out a few years ago because I had two littles that I wanted to spend more time with (we had become unbalanced) and several of my boys played high school basketball and the season conflicted with debate season.


But I love debate. I love what it does for kids. And we're going back. So now I'm trying to reconfigure my high schooler's schedule to make room for speech and debate. They will be 9th and 11th grades. I have found that middle schoolers have more TIME for debate, but are less intellectual capability. That reverses in high school: academics now demand more time just when they have the intellectual capacity to really compete!



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My oldest dd was very active in debate and speech, including toastmasters - at age 8. She did it over the summer because she began college in the fall (Part-time) but ended up getting involved in creation science and had college English courses that required speeches. So, I scheduled 1 hr a day for planning, research, writing, designing (as in overheads) and practicing speech and debate. At age 17 she taught in an adhd school and now that she is grown, she teaches various classes and acts in Shakespeare plays. I now believe that debate and speech should be encouraged in even young kids and actively taught when a child is ready. My youngest (15) is scheduled to make videos of himself "teaching" various subjects that he is studying. It will reinforce his learning and give him a start in speaking. The following year we will do a formal study of great speeches and the process of debate.

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Ds1 was really into debate in high school. I was a mean debate mom -- in our house debate did NOT count as writing and history and current events and public speaking, like it did for some of his fellow debaters.


We held our academic standards high, and he was less prepared for debate than he wanted to be, but in the long run that decision was worth it -- he is now heading into engineering, and if we had compromised his math or science classes he would not be where he is now.


Balancing debate is tough. What we have seen work somewhat successfully is moving some subjects to the summer. We only did this for math, but some debaters moved almost their academic load into the summer months.


Best wishes. I don't envy you the juggling!

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I'm not totally convinced it should take up that much time. Our local club is run by a talented young man that has now been to nationals twice. He does a very high level academic schedule and plays on a sports team. He's very clear that he doesn't spend hours a day on debate, at most an hour per day and that only after January. I think what it does call for planning and being willing to spend money for the helps: case books and the lexus/nexus subscription.


On planning, we are currently waiting for the NCFCA to announce their topic.

  • Once that happens, the goal is to read an overview book or two, go to the local college library and pillage and scan articles to read.
  • Then we will get out debate case books and cut them up and reorganize them into workable cases, especially for negative. We like Vance Trefethen's Key's book for how to do this. The general plan is for each partner to start at one end of the case books and work towards the middle using his plan to consolidate evidence. Ideally each partner would do this for every case. This shoudl be done by mid fall.
  • Concurrently they will begin to chose and run cases, hopefully in club. This I am less sure of because we will be in a new club this fall.
  • Once their negative cases are oganized, they'll go through and determine if some of those lack evidence.
  • They will look for that.
  • And they will also begin to write their own negative briefs based on cases they hear about.
  • Concurrently they will be writing a positive brief or two (goal two for each partner).
  • Late fall we will go to one local practice tournament.
  • January we will go to one early qualifier. Our own local qualifier is late, so we will also schedule that.


My son's partner dances serious ballet and they both have heavy schedules of fairly academic classes. So I don't see spending more on average than 30 to 45 minutes per day on debate. And honestly I think for the fall season it will be less than that. I also think the time will be spent more in clumps of several hours rather than daily practice.

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