I teach 7th Grade English, run businesses, and write books. But of course I can fit in a speech and debate tournament! Let me brag a little before asking you a question.
My daughters (6th and 8th graders) competed in a public school virtual tournament last night, taking first place in Dramatic Duo. They performed the James Hurst short story “The Scarlet Ibis,” a piece their older sister cut several years ago. I plan to post their video to Monument Members soon.
The tournament was hosted by a group of middle school teachers in Fort Collins and Denver. Though Wendy and I have chosen homeschooling for our kids, they competed on my public school’s team. The rest of my public school team did well, too, placing most of the club in their events and securing another title award.
I coach my girls for both homeschool and public school tournaments. Homeschool leagues are mostly restrictive of public school students, but the other way around is usually up to coaches’ discretion (as is in my case). I lean toward an open-door policy for competing, mixing the talent and the competitive opportunities. I often wonder why homeschool leagues are so hesitant to allow public school students to compete with them.
I think I know the reason: worldviews. I list the practical contrasts between the leagues in my book Easy Entry to the World of Speech and Debate, but the differences between how the communities view politics, religion, and morality are radically significant. Homeschool leagues are perhaps some of the last frontiers of innocence and virtue, while public school leagues are promoting the most leftist ideologies of our culture.
I personally struggle with the contrast, but I cannot help but think of the conviction to be “in the world but not of it.” I have done my share of trying to convince the homeschool leagues to open up to non-homeschoolers, but that has not led to much change. Homeschool communities are — more than ever — strong and vibrant and successful, so opening up doesn’t make much sense to them. Perhaps I should stop trying to convince them of the value of open competition.
Which leads to my question: Should homeschool and public school speech and debate COMPETITORS mix?
Not the leagues, but the competitors. In other words, coach kids to compete in more than just one league. Become “multi-leagual” (my made-up word). I may have the opportunity to run a virtual tournament in the coming months, and I’m considering mixing the two communities. It could be interesting. But I’d love to hear from you first. Post your thoughts below.