Noncompetitive Debate Class

After years of insisting on competition, I'm teaching a class without tournament competition as the goal

I start teaching in less than two weeks in Colorado Springs. The class is a new idea in academic forensics: noncompetitive debate. I plan to blog through the 12-week course, and you may be more interested in this than you think.

Few are arguing whether debate is valuable. Many just don't want to treat it like a sport.

Few are arguing whether debate is valuable. Many just don’t want to treat it like a sport.

Competitive debate has existed since 1930. I was a public school teacher in 1996 when the first homeschool league started up. I jumped right on board, and since then several leagues have sprouted up to support my kind of educational pedagogy. I now own and operate Monument Publishing, a successful business that caters specifically to the NSDA, NCFCA and Stoa speech and debate associations.

As fruitful as competitive debate is, I believe there is a huge need for people who would rather not compete.

I used to be rather insistent about competition. Taking competition out of debate makes things rather boring. “You should just join debate!” was my somewhat-annoying mantra. “Come on! Let’s spend thousands of dollars for suits, curriculum, and supplies to sacrifice our evenings and weekends to travel the country and attend week-long tournaments!”

About 1% of my homeschool friends have taken me up on this request. The rest have said, “No thanks.”

This isn’t to say they don’t believe in the activity. The skills learned from debate are—without question—the most valuable lessons young people can learn. Parents and educators don’t argue that. The sport takes a lot of commitment, expense, and hard work—so much so that most are not able to take the plunge.

So here is how I believe most see debate: sure, the skill is valuable, but I’m not into it like a sport. In other words, “I’d have my child in a class, but we aren’t interested in competition.”

I’m not sure my idea is entirely unique, but I am starting my class by scratch. I will be applying a framework for the class that models the Institute for Excellence in Writing’s Structure and Style methodology. This method has worked wonders in teaching people how to write, and I will be taking elements of this method and teaching people how to debate.

Class starts August 25. I will be blogging regularly throughout the following 12 weeks as this curriculum develops. I’ll have pictures and discussions and downloads and anything else I can think of to share with you. Subscribe to my blog to keep in touch.


Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

6 thoughts on “Noncompetitive Debate Class

  1. I love this idea and think we’ll see more noncompetitive options in the future. Thanks for paving the way. 🙂

  2. I am so interested how your frame for non competitive debate.
    I am in non competitive book debate organization in Korea.
    It would be good to have change to share the experiences somehow 🙂

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