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May 4, 2012 / compassioninpolitics

NDT/CEDA Debate and Real Life: Lifelong debate change and solidarity

The politics of the UDL being bad is sad. For most people in the activity I’m not sure why thats important. This seems like a personal battle. A personal way to create conflict by one of the most adored people in the activity (without which there wouldn’t be an UDL in the first place–at least in certain parts of the US).

I differ a agree a bit….but differ a good bit too. But to answer your question. Yes, I would say the move toward:
1) doing reform, beyond the rhetorical
2) or doing scholarship beyond the post-whatever
3) be a better bridge to the real world.

We prep 40 to 100 hours for the NDT….but we don’t prep students for the real world–for their careers for the rest of their lives. As a result they have 2 career paths (academics & lawyers…..thats an incredibly narrow frame of vision for transforming the world–which shortchanges their investment in the activity on a simply horrifying scale). The NDT is a week….a 30 to 60 hour job is a life-time. The NDT times 1,750. ( 50 *35 ). The only schools that I can tell do a good job of this are Emory and Wake Forrest (perhaps others in the upper eschelons of the academy) At the point at which this practice perpetuates lifetimes of inequality and inactivism–due to inability to make the jump to a career that leverages the skills and insights debaters have been cultivating over the last 4 to 8 years…..this is a vast, vast, vast disservice to all stakeholders. All of them. If you want to make debate matter….if you want our debate lives to matter….this lack of vision and of a strategic bridge or even framework for navigating the post-debate lifeworld….is an ethical dead end. Coaches are in some sense responsible as mentors of their students–in that mentor capacity they should provide light, skills, and helping hands in establishing behaviors beyond–from which debaters can continue their activist-thinking-doing roles post their college educators. (the professor Kanye West’s perspective on the academy actually has some interesting ideas here).

Debate reproduces the academy, reproduces the academy, reproduces the academy, reproduces a textual focus. New ideas are a dime a dozen. It takes a 2 minute brainstorm. Action is what is in short supply–the visreal is dead except as it overlaps a profusion and production of ideas wrapped around the theories by dead guys/women.

Its what is scarce. Its what this community really lacks. Its what the world lacks.

That probably asks too much….perhaps too early….of activist/doer/scholars as learning is developmental and probably vaguely stage-based.

* I framed the comparison as zero-sum and in one respect it isn’t, but to the extent that our lives are scarce resources–we have to make priorities. Time is a bit zero sum–especially in that 4 months between the end of school and the start of a new career. And the employment data on people who miss the window here is absolutely abyssmal (I think the literature looks at a 6 month period of time–I used 4 months as an estimate between say May and August rather than the literature). Those who miss this gap get incredibly stuck. Also, obviously the starkness of the contrast in numerical terms should help up come to terms with the misguided vision of a laizze faire attitude toward debaters meandering after hyper-focusing on an activity for 8 years and waking up having to navigate the complexities of making big life decisions which they haven’t prepared themselves for because fo their participation in debate.

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