There aren’t very many debate tournaments in the spring term, so nothing much to report there.  There were elections on the debate team, and I’m now the Captain of NDT-style debate (policy debate, as opposed to parliamentary debate) and the webmaster for the debate team.

I also started coaching debate at Palo Alto High School.  This spring, I was primarily the novice coach (Palo Alto HS recruits 8th graders every spring to get them interested in debate and to get them some experience so that they can come in to high school as, more or less, varsity debaters), but next year, I think I’ll be coaching pretty much everyone.  It made me realize a few things.

  • I like teaching: coming up with the lesson plan and lecturing or having them do activities comes easily to me, and it feels really good to see them learn.
  • Crowd control sucks: even with groups of 10-20 who are coming voluntarily to debate practice and who are very bright students, it is hard to keep order.  I can see why good teachers are so rare.  Any tips?

On May 17, I took them to their first tournament.  They had only been to practices for a little over a month, and two teams of them got 3rd and 5th places.  A bunch of them are also going to a summer debate camp.  I have high expectations for next year.

Also at that tournament, a debater from another school called one of my debaters a bitch behind her back.  Women are underrepresented in debate, and apparently debaters aren’t above sexism.  After telling my debater that the other debater was sexist and it was an unacceptable thing for him to do, I tried to cheer her up.  I told her that she was a strong debater, she beat the sexist debater when they debated each other, and unfortunately strong women get called names.  It only reaffirms that they are strong women, though.  At the debate meeting after the tournament, the director of debate at Palo Alto HS, Jennie Savage, made cupcakes for everyone for their first tournament, and she made a “bitchcake” (A cupcake with a gummy worm in the shape of a “B” on it) for the girl who was called a bitch.  Jennie’s logic was the same as mine: you don’t get called a bitch unless you’re strong, so it deserves celebration.  I can’t help but thinking of bitch magazine. 

Even after their first tournament, I’m starting to feel a comradeship with them.  It’s not the same as the community that I felt when I was a high school debater.  It’s more like… I’m invested in them and want them to succeed.  They’re my debaters!