Sonoma Family Life Magazine March 2010 : Page 21

Coach Lynette Williamson thanks the Sebastopol Rotary for sponsoring their student speaker contest last spring. North Korea sit alongside data on the Obama administration’s positions on a variety of political issues. This particular weekend, in advance of American football’s biggest game, Rosen has prepared a brief on Super Bowl XLIV. He’s an engaging guy; part scholar, part comedian. His fellow debaters listen carefully as he presents information ranging from the game’s historical signifi cance, past and present players and the social and economic context of post-Katrina New Orleans. He is clearly well versed in sports, but many of his fellow debaters are not, and he fields questions while his teammates take copious notes during the presentation. After Rosen has fi nished, Harrison Noah, an Analy Debate Team alumnus and current Debate Team captain for UC Davis, coaches the students on different types of argument. Tonight’s topic: How to respond to metaphor; an analogy between two objects or ideas. In Debate, the debaters create meaning from the metaphor. Metaphor is difficult to prepare for since the team assigned to argue against the resolution does not know how the team arguing in www.sonomafamilylife.com support of the resolution will interpret the metaphor. Noah has ideas though, drawing on his experience in high school and in college. He and a number of his teammates won fi rst place in the State Championships in 2008 when he was a senior at Analy. Noah is one of a number of Williamson’s former students who come back to help coach the team. “Debate saved me in high school,” he said when I asked him why he was still involved given the demands of college life. “These students remind me of myself and I wanted to do something to give back. Lynette helped me get through high school.” “These kids are craving to improve themselves” setting, the best and the brightest lose every day. Debate encourages them to strive to be better, to improve themselves.” It’s an important life lesson; one that Williamson appreciates the opportunity to witness. “In teaching it’s harder to be convinced you’re making a difference. In debate, I see the immediate results of the tournament. I see them improve before my eyes. I see them see themselves improving, and I get “Debate encourages After Noah finishes his instruction, it’s time to practice. In a Parliamentary Competition, debaters are given a topic 20 minutes before the round. Assigned randomly to a side, they feverishly prepare their presentation. Because they don’t get to pick their side in debate, students “learn to consider oppositions,” said Williamson. “You learn to think hard about positions you may not agree with. That brings about better critical thinking. They learn to anticipate arguments on the other side. That forces them to better support their own arguments.” [students] to strive to be better, to improve themselves” There are other benefits to the process as well. “Many of these students are used to doing well in school,” Williamson said. “It’s not unusual for them to earn all As and Bs in their academic courses.” Debate teaches them the ability to lose. “In a debate March 2010 L to R: Olivia Mora, Tula Biederman, Luke Lindenbusch, and Mariah Noah at the Stanford Debate Invitational. to see how others are receiving them. It’s very rewarding.” This night, in preparation for the weekend at Stanford, the students break off into teams to scrimmage; using the material they have just learned. Adhering to the process they will face at Stanford, a fellow teammate serves as judge, analyzing their presentation by the guidelines they will see in competition. Teams are judged on: How reasonably and effectively they analyze the topic and the arguments offered during the debate. How appropriately and efficiently the debaters support arguments with evidence. How directly and effectively they respond to the arguments made by the other side. Continued on page 22 Sonoma Family Life 21

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