The Debate Academy Model

The 25 minute video comes from a presentation made by Bojana Skrt and Alfred Snider at the 2010 Thinking and Speaking a Better World: Third International Conference on Argumentation, Rhetoric, Debate and Critical Pedagogy held in Maribor, Slovenia. The moderator is Allan Louden of Wake Forest University. The presentation summarizes the basic concepts behind the “academy” model for debate training. The video is 25 minutes long.

But, to summarize:

The basic concepts behind the model are as follows:

  1. 1.Active learning. Debate training needs to be involving and active in order to be effective. People do not learn how to debate by listening alone. All of the thinking and speaking skills of debate are inculcated and developed through active methods.

  2. 2.Repetition. As a skill, debate needs to be learned through repetition. Thus, the academy model involves repetition at many levels. You do it until you do it better.

  3. 3.Diversity of faculty. We are not just talking about nationalities, but also about perspectives. Many excellent debate trainers disagree about methods and strategies, and we do not want to say that one is better than another. Rather, our faculty provides these different ideas and we encourage the attendees to decide for themselves which ones are better. We also emphasize gender representation in our faculty composition.

  4. 4.Student selection. Students know what they can do well and what needs improvement. Thus, we allow considerable choice each and as elective sessions are offered. In each one hour elective session we will offer 4-6 different presentations in different rooms and students can choose which to attend. The more popular sessions are repeated, so students may attend a session on a topic more than once. Electives cover debate theory, skills, content areas as well as debate organizational techniques (tournaments, recruiting, etc.).

  5. 5.Full integration of the training of debate trainers. We invite those interested in improving their debate training skills to our general sessions. They watch and observe how we train, but we also provide special sessions for the trainers on selected subjects, often based on their needs. We also teach them how to judge and critique debates, we have them accompany faculty in doing so and then we have them judge on their own at the tournament, if there is one.

Plus, the program is very intense. Debate comes first, before socials and before tourism. Having a good time is important, but people come to the event because of debate.

The concepts and focus of the program are always changing and developing. We use student evaluations to determine what should be changed. The academy is constantly in a process of becoming.

If you want to watch the video presentation, here is a timelog:

0:00-7:20 History of the academy concept

7:20-11:00 Basic principles of the academy model

11:00-15:00 Daily schedule

15:00-17:00 Evaluations

17:00-20:30 Application in a variety of contexts

20:30-End Questions from audience