I have referenced a story before about Michael Jordan hearing a critic say he couldn’t use his left hand and how he relentlessly attacked that weakness in the off season. This is something that rarely happens in debates. How many policy only debaters attack postmodernism or another K arg they are terrible at? How many K debaters work on their politics 2NC?
Everyone knows its better to flexible, but fewer and fewer people are flexible. Why?
- Its hard. Really. It takes a lot of work.
- Prefs- many people don’t see the need, they think due to prefs they can roll one style indefinitely.
- Cliques- there is often social pressure to stay “pure” -this can come from both sides
- Tunnel vision- some people fully buy into the cult of framework, some thing anything “traditional” is bad.
The fact remains though- flexible is good. If you can do it all you will win more rounds. Even if you can’t do it all, if you can do one thing well and another thing OK that is better than just doing one thing well.
But even if you don’t break it down along the debate policy/k divide, many people still have weaknesses like
-line by line
etc. Even if you only read 1 argument, you will be more successful if you can adapt/change that argument to fit judge preferences of a wide set of viewpoints. Some rounds you might want to be hyper technical, other rounds you may want to go more big picture/conceptual. Some rounds may be evidence intensive, others less so.
Point being- any way you want to slice it, we all have weaknesses. What I want to talk about in this post are some under examined weaknesses:
This was always my weakness. Some people in debate are really smart and pick things up quickly. They can read a few cards and understand the argument well enough to read or answer it. I never had that skill, and as a result I had to spend a lot of time trying to learn good before I could cut a neg or answers to something. This carries over to this day-for a few years my assignments were only answering obscure K arguments. If I had two weeks to do that it would take me at least a week (often more) trying to figure out what the argument was before I could decide how to formulate a strategy/cut a good card that answers it.
So if you want to learn, how should you go about it? Well you need to treat debate more like school (hopefully). In school when you are learning about something you probably
-read it carefully
-make some sort of study guide or note cards
-spend hours reviewing it
Think about how this is different from “card cutting”
-people do a lot of skimming looking for good cards rather than reading
-searches are directed to find particular things rather than learn
-never any study guide (organizing information)
So it’s not surprising that you learn less sometimes from cutting cards. Again this varies- some people instantly learn everything when they read. I have a really good memory and can remember a lot- my problem though is that I have to read things a bunch of time before I understand it. Card cutting reading doesn’t really help me learn so I have to tackle things a different way. This is what I do
1.Whatever the subject is I try and find the 3-5 “major works” for the other side. So if you don’t understand how to answer the security K you would want to look for 3-5 of the biggest (most cited) articles that teams reading the security K use. You will need to look around on google scholar for a while to figure this out, but once you get the hang of it its pretty easy. Here is an example
Now looking at those results (they are already sorted by relevance) I would go through 100 of them (I change my default settings to this anyway) and see which ones jump out/are commonly cited (by debaters or other authors). So the 5 I would pick are probably
[BOOK] Critical security studies
(CSS) since the late 1980s has posed a signifi- cant challenge to the dominant
understand- ing of security in academic international relations (IR). …
Weber o … of this innovative textbook introduces students to the main theories in International
Relations. … analyzes each theory, allowing students to understand and critically engage with …
Reading theories of internationalrelations as a characteristic expression of a modern politics
bounded … and contingency, of a dissolution or an absence threatening the secure frontiers of …