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  • Peter Lawrence

Day Two at the Lexington Debate Institute

We had a very eventful Day Two! We went over some new concepts, and the students got to participate in their first official practice debates!

After check-in, we started off with some fun energy-building warmups to get to know each other a little better before the morning lecture. Our first topic of the day was argument structure. Yesterday, we discussed the basic chain of claim, warrant, and impact, and today we moved on to the more complex models of argumentation: the Toulmin Method and the Argument Map. The students could pick whichever method worked better for them to focus on perfecting. Afterwards, we discussed the art of presentation. We outlined the key aspects of public speaking, such as body language, voice control, and enunciation. To practice oration, the students played fun speech games such as Like, Um, Uh, where they were given two minutes to tell a story in front of the class which incorporated 3 unique words that we provided. We tallied their use of “filler-words”, and who ever who used the fewest was declared the champion!

Before lunch, we continued the theme of argument structure by teaching impact calculus and weighing. This lecture focused on techniques to differentiate between impacts, showing students how to prove that their impact was of the greatest consequence. We discussed the magnitude, timeframe, and probability of various impacts, and lesser-known qualifiers such as reversibility, inevitability, and how to control/turn an impact. After the activity, we took our lunch break. We were able to eat outside in the Quad area of the high school, and students who were interested played with a frisbee disc and were able to get some fresh air.

When we came back from lunch, we expanded upon the impact lesson. We went over a variety of impacts ranging from food insecurity and water shortages to cyberwarfare and bioterror. Each student was assigned a topic to defend, and they spent time researching and compiling evidence. After they constructed a speech, the students were paired up against opponents for a mini-debate tournament. The students put the skills of argument structure, persuasion, flowing, and cross-examination together in these shortened debates. We had a lot of fun during our first official practice debates and we look forward to continuing them tomorrow!

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