Sunday, December 8, 2013

Speech & Debate Students Defy Stereotypes and Criticism of Teens

Despite the negative commentary on teenagers and the state of American education - especially in the aftermath of the most recent PISA test results which criticize the US schools as average and stagnant - the high achieving intellects of American students are alive and well and on display at speech and debate tournaments across the country on a regular basis. After spending the weekend at the 10th Annual Patriot Games tournament hosted by the Forensics Department of George Mason University, I couldn't be more impressed with the talents of America's ambitious and motivated and high achieving students. There is something truly impressive and inspiring and reassuring about spending time with students who are committed to competing against each other in tests of intellect and performance art.  Judging a public forum debate on the resolution that immigration reform should contain a "path to citizenship," I was overwhelmed with the knowledge and insight and rhetorical prowess of so many young people. These students are as well informed on the issue of immigration - perhaps better because they know both sides so well - as anyone on the country. That is impressive. Judging the Lincoln-Douglas (LD) on the precedence of truth seeking over attorney-client privilege, I was amazed at the profoundly philosophical banter and exchange between these young people. They've thought long and hard about issues of truth and justice, certainly more so than the average American.  And that's every bit as important, and more so, than their ability to answer math and reading questions on a standardized test for which they have no context or motivation.

Ask yourself if you can do that?

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