The Mean Green Lincoln Douglas Debate Workshop was created to provide the best possible educational experience for all levels of students. We ask you to consider some important qualities that distinguish the Mean Green Workshops from others. Our staff this year is unlike that found anywhere else in regards to experience, diversity of teaching, stylistic/argument preferences, and other core identifiers of diversity. We believe that students, parents and coaches should collectively weigh all of the available information to assess which summer experience would best benefit each individual student.
What are things to consider in evaluating or considering an institute?
One of the first things to consider is the issue of staff. Who will actually be teaching students during their summer experience? Do they actually have training as teachers, or is their knowledge of debate limited to their experience as a recent competitor or assistant coach?
Many camps hire young college students who have successful high school records and allow them to direct labs, without guidance on teaching high school students, under the assumption that success as a competitor, breeds success and/or competence as teacher and coach. That assumption is fallacious in our opinion. The best teachers offer a breadth and depth of experience that comes from time in the classroom, summer experiences, and interaction with professional colleagues, tournament judging, being in situations with students with divergent academic and social needs as well as extensive coaching.
Additionally, many times camps hire staff with similar competitive and ideological backgrounds. This seems to limit the exposure that students have to different styles, theories, strategies etc. A younger staff also creates supervision issues. The Mean Green Workshops has seasoned, credentialed teachers on staff who have made a career in teaching as well as coaching and judging debates throughout the year at local, regional and national events in different areas of the country. Our senior staff are teachers with many years of teaching experience, which is instrumental in creating curriculum for students with diverse learning styles, experience and levels of motivation, yet are still in the current debate game! No less important is the part of the staff that, while not classroom teachers, have proven themselves to be amazing assistant coaches, judges and summer workshop lab leaders invested in educating young people. Our faculty share a record of recent competitive success as debaters but more importantly, they have coached winners in numerous prestigious events across the state of Texas (and the country) in addition to having a desire to share those experiences and tips with students who attend. Thus far, lab instructors at UNT have had students in the past year who have won championships at The UIL State tournament, TFA State, Greenhill Round Robin, Montgomery Bell Academy Round Robin, LA Challenge Round Robin, The Glenbrooks, and Grapevine Fall Classic in addition to others. In addition, we also pride ourselves on the first and second year students we hire. We think a lab situation that has a more experienced coach (to the degree possible) paired with a younger former debater is the best of all possible worlds. In NO circumstance will two first year individuals bear the responsibility for teaching a lab at the Mean Green Workshops.
What about curriculum?
The curriculum of any institute is crucial to what a student is likely to gain. In this regard, one should consider whether an institute offers a curriculum that addresses the diversity of conditions students are likely to confront in their debate career. One should also consider whether the student would be taught an educationally sound set of practices or a series of tricks that happened to work at a single tournament or in front of a small number of judges.
Our senior staff members have taught at dozens of workshops including University of Texas, Victory Briefs, Sacred Heart, National Debate Forum and the National Symposium for Debate. With the core of the staff being professional educators, some with Master’s degrees in curricular design, while still being competitive coaches in the debate game, we have and are continuing to develop an approach that is being designed from scratch. We won’t have lectures just because we had them in the past. The curriculum is built to respond to “contemporary” needs of debaters.
Our approach to debate is pedagogically sound and time tested in regards to competitive success. Students will have guaranteed access to all staff members. At many other institutes a student’s exposure to staff is limited to lab leaders and large group lectures. We want all students to have one on one attention with the instructor of their choice at some point during their stay.
The curriculum is designed to give students a common knowledge base, yet avoids hours and hours of lectures on issues that have become tangential to contemporary Lincoln Douglas Debate. Each year we have modified our program based on feedback from coaches and students. Some of the components of our curriculum include the following:
- Our pedagogy emphasizes small lab groups. The top lab will be limited in size this year based on experience and coach recommendation. Students with extensive experience will be given enrichment exercises to accelerate their growth.
- The literature base many students are using is changing, While we teach about Rawls, Nozick , Kant, and JS Mills, we will also teach you about Wilderson, Hartman, hooks and Charles Mills. Literally no other institute has a tenured philosophy professor on staff (with previous debate experience) like we do.
Sample of Last Year’s Electives
- We focus on teaching students ethically sound best practices in dealing with the arguments that seem to pervade many circuits.
- The novice lab will continue to be a place for students with limited or no experience.
- A balance of large group lectures and electives to allow students to focus on things they wish to learn/work on.
- Office hours that allows students one-on-one time with instructors.
- Written critiques that allow each instructor to see what skills need to be worked on and what progress is being made
- More actual debating (after sufficient time to prepare and modify cases) to allow students the opportunity to address weaknesses and emphasize areas of strength.
The Mean Green Workshop will also focus on how to research, a skill that many camps seem to have put on the backburner. While it is true you can write cases without evidence, it seems some base in the literature is required to have a grasp of the context of the resolution. One of the most important debate skills is the ability to research in college libraries. The internet is helpful, but should not be the only tool that is used to research.
Attention will also be placed on effective case writing, effective speaking techniques, strategic decisions and general tips to help students achieve whatever goals they have set for themselves.
Comparing Institute Costs
Are all costs factored in to the upfront costs? Are an appropriate number of meals provided? Are students required to pay additional “lab fees” that add to the total cost of the program? Do you have to pay to print materials from the computer labs? Students will have to pay for copies of books, etc. but the printing of articles from online sources and your cases are free at PC labs on campus. The PC labs also include all electronic resources available at Willis Library. At the University of North Texas workshop, there are no hidden costs.
Do you have access to the best facilities?
A fourth consideration is University-approved access to the library. Since many camps are not affiliated with the University but are instead just leasing space, those Universities may either deny access or place severe restrictions on the time you may research. The Mean Green Workshop is sponsored by the Communication Studies department and has the full, complete backing and support of the University. Many workshops use the name of Universities that are housing their program but are basically only renting space. An institutional affiliation is important and provides the security of insurance in addition to the same health service resources that regular college students have access to You are given full access and complete privileges to all libraries on campus and a library card that allows you to check out books.
While students are paying good money to work becoming a better debater you will have some free time as well! The campus has undergone major development during the past few years and as a result has been called one of the most beautiful campuses in Texas.
At the University of North Texas, computer labs are available for research, case editing/writing etc. You may also print at no charge. In addition, for those of you with laptops, U.S. News and World Report has listed the University of North Texas as one of the most “wired” campuses in the United States including wireless access in all buildings. Technology has become an integral part of the summer workshop experience and at UNT we think that the summer workshop should do all it can to make a student’s experience the best possible in regards to technology access.
Don’t forget location!
The UNT campus has undergone tremendous change over the last decade and is lovely. UNT (Denton, TX) is minutes away from DFW airport or Love Field, both major airports. This makes our workshop more accessible and priced at a lower cost than many other institutes. The dorms are very nice and the food is good. The school is in a small college town, which is very safe. The campus has undergone major improvement over the last decade to truly take its place among the finest in the state. UNT resident assistants and older staff members handle all the residential living and dorm supervision. Professional staff oversees the residential facilities as opposed to instructional staff. Teachers focus on instruction and the residential staff focus on providing a safe residential environment. While you will work hard and have lots of fun, we believe the health and safety of our students are our number one priority.
- Three Week Session: June 28 – July 18, 2015, $2500
- Two Week Session: June 28 – July 11, 2015, $1800
What have others said?
“I attended UNT for the past two summers and both were great experiences. The reason I went to UNT was to learn about different styles of debate in a way that no other camp was teaching and UNT was perfect for that. It was an amazing experience where I learned more than I thought possible. The lab leaders had so much to teach resulting in in-depth lectures that focused not only on winning rounds but having debate be an educational activity.”
– Elyssa Alfieri – Harrison High School
“The Mean Green Workshop at UNT was a unique and irreplaceable experience for me as a debater going into my senior year. Chosen as one of the last camps I would attend in my last year of high school, I do not regret my choice for one moment. Nowhere else can you find such quality staff, dedicated students, and individuals who love and breathe the activity of debate. Whether we were doing drills, having interlab debates, or even making music videos about how wonderful we believed debate is, we spent 2 to 3 weeks immersed in a world filled with intellectuals of all types. The diversity of the Mean Green Workshops and its stellar quality is what made me become the debater I am today. The persuasive skills I use in world’s debate and local tournaments remind me of judge adaptation lectures by Mr. Hertzig from Harrison. My responses to intersectional approaches were made better by the presence of Dr. Tommy J Curry from Texas A&M.; I speak faster and clearer because of the drills and constant pushing of my lab leaders while I was there. I’ve become a diverse and well-rounded debater because I was surrounded by such excellent minds who were dedicated to making whoever they taught great. However, most importantly, the skills I learned, helped me gain confidence. My peers in my grueling lab pushed me to better myself and encouraged me to try new things and run different arguments. I made friends and scholarly colleagues all at once–an experience that remains priceless. My success this senior year would never have been attainable or even sustained had I not spent 3 mind enriching weeks at this wonderful institute. ”
-Sun Hee Simon – Newark Science Park High School
“This year in debate has been a very successful year for me. Looking back at myself last year I never expected to be this completive. All of that changed after I attended UNT mean green workshops for 3 weeks. There I met excellent lab leaders and an awesome philosopher with a PHD in African American studies named Tommy J Curry. The learning experience there increased my knowledge exponentially of both debate substantively and technically. The work load there is no more than you would be able to bear and the leaders and labs are up for you to decide. The coaches there are actually really good in their field, experts even and the lab leaders are willing to work with you there in whatever you want to do, for me it was critical race and performance debate. What I learned there not only helped me debate better but also gain confidence in myself as a great debater. As a testament to the workshop it’s not just me, everyone in my lab has been competitive nationally, almost everyone has been in a bid round, and a lot of us already qualified for the tournament of champions. If this sounds like something you are interested in doing during your debate year, I strongly suggest you visit mean green workshops.”
-Adegoke Fakorede – Newark Science Park High School