Eastside Academic Studies


Competitive Team Policy Debate Class/Club

Teacher: Robin Axelberd
Date/Time: Thursday - 2:30 PM to 4:00 PM
Room: FH1
Department: Other
DOE Number: 23.046
Grade Level: High School (9th-12th)
Maximum Enrollment: 13

**Enrollment is closed for the spring semester.**

This class is designed to teach beginning team policy debate to middle and high school students and to prepare the students for tournaments on an individual and club level. Students who are 12-13 years old would benefit from taking this class to learn the grammar of debate; participation in tournaments will be more optional and at the discretion of the Coach and parents. Observing at tournaments at these younger ages will give them a significant advantage once they begin to compete! Students in this class will be a part of Dynamis Speech & Debate Club.

Policy debate is a style of argumentation that follows a given format with rules such as timed speeches and cross-examinations as well as a judge (either a parent or someone from the community) who decides who wins the round. The yearly resolution for discussion involves current policies, typically of the United States Federal Government, regarding domestic and/or foreign affairs. The “team” is two students who are paired for the year to work on their affirmative case and compete together at tournaments.

Pairings are always easiest if you grab a friend and have them join with you! Alternatively, the coach will make every effort to match compatible students, with input from parents.

The first half of the year will be focused on teaching basic debate terminology, theory, and skills, including stock issues, case-writing, affirmative & negative strategies, and cross-examination techniques. Furthermore, we will explore the topic area of the resolution. For example, the 2021-2022 resolution was centered on the use of artificial intelligence (AI), so we talked about what is and isn’t artificial intelligence, what constitutes “use” of AI, and examined possible cases. Students will also begin writing their own (or their team’s) affirmative case and contributing to the club’s negative briefs.

This year’s resolution is:

Resolved: The United States Federal Government should substantially reform its policy towards one or more countries in Europe.

The second half of the year will be focused on exercising the skills that have been learned, including practice rounds in class to prepare for tournaments. After tournaments, we will discuss the ballot results for the teams, how affirmative cases and negative briefs can be improved or updated, new negative briefs that need to be written, etc. Students (and parents) are strongly encouraged to participate in (or attend and observe) at least two Atlanta-area tournaments.

For additional information on competitive speech and debate as well as Dynamis Speech & Debate club, please visit DynamisATL.club.

Mandatory for Parents:

  • Parents must attend an information session and a “tournament training” (dates and times to be determined).

  • Parents must agree with the Statement of Faith provided on the Stoa website.

  • Parents MUST attend, supervise, and be available to judge at all tournaments their students attend, OR provide an adult (20+) who will fulfill those responsibilities.

  • A parent must attend club 2-3 times a year to help judge practice rounds. (Exceptions can be made, but must be approved by Robin Axelberd.)

*In class, and as time will allow, I will also cover the basics of several competitive speech events. I highly encourage debate students to participate in Extemporaneous speech, at the very least, as it strengthens their debate skills by having them research a current event topic, synthesize ideas, and communicate those ideas in a short amount of time.

Tuition Fees:

My number one goal is to provide as many students as possible the skills, experiences, and benefits of competitive speech and debate. Like many extracurricular activities, competitive debate (and speech) has on-going costs, especially to participate in tournaments; therefore, I keep tuition at a minimum.

Tuition: $150 each semester, preferably one payment each semester.

One-time supply/administrative fee: $50 for the year. This fee is non-refundable and is due before the first day of class.

Course Materials:

The Code of Debater PDF (free download to be provided).

Upside Down Debate by Isaiah and Betsy McPeak. Available from Amazon and other booksellers. Any other required materials will be provided by the instructor.

Stoa Membership: Required to participate in tournaments. See StoaUSA.org for pricing and payment.

Other materials: Other materials published relative to the year’s resolution will be recommended in class for purchase but will not be required. The price of these resources will range from $20-$100, some being shareable between family members and/or partners.

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