UNT is changing the way debate is taught.
We recognize the importance of continually evolving our thinking on how to teach debate. In considering how to reshape our policy workshops, we thought for a long time about what we wanted students to get out of a workshop and how that could best be achieved. We thought for a long time about how we learned to debate and what other workshops have done well, and not so well, for decades. We listened to students and coaches who told us that in debate classrooms and lab settings too many students are left behind. Too many students sit idly while others the “squeaky wheel gets the grease.” Too many students are placed into large lectures or lab settings where they’re “talked at” and have little experience to guide their learning. We thought about what has always worked best – learn by doing.
We thought about our past and what we want for the future. The reality is that a large number of very successful debaters spent their summers at UNT. In 12 short years, our alumni have won literally every major policy debate event at the high school and collegiate levels. We have helped build a foundation for success in debate that is real and measurable. We are proud of our legacy and want to continue the tradition. Going forward, we plan to become THE workshop Texas and our nationally-competitive counterparts from across the country attend for skill development particularly as younger debaters.
The curriculum of the Policy Division of the Mean Green Workshops emphasizes an experiential, student-centered model of education. Debate is an activity in which students take the lead in their own education. Unlike other workshops where students are treated as passive receptacles to be lectured at, the Mean Green Workshops has developed a curriculum that gets students involved, active, and excited about their own learning. Debaters are at the center of our approach. Student-debaters are active learners advancing their own skills in advocacy, refutation, communication, analysis, and critical thinking by doing it, not listening to someone tell them what to do. This model emphasizes the best of current thinking and studies on pedagogy. It is based on maximizing the following student learning outcomes:
At the end of the Mean Green Workshops students will:
- Evaluate multiple strategies on the current high school policy debate topic: We encourage students to not only understand strategies, but to be able to make their own informed decisions about what strategies will work best for them when they are debating in their circuit.
- Compare evidence used within the context of policy debate: Debate is about comparison, we develop students’ abilities to tell what makes strong evidence and how they can integrate that into their own refutation.
- Propose and formulate offensive arguments on both the Affirmative and the Negative: Debate is about synthesizing and constructing arguments. Students engage in activities concerning argument construction.
- Test arguments through oral communication: Debating is an oral activity, without practicing this component, no other goals can be achieved.
How is this accomplished?
- We don’t want to try to teach anything that isn’t immediately reinforced through drill. We learn best by putting concepts into practice.
- Instead of spending several weeks researching, learn how to research and spend most of your time debating. Our staff will develop a set high quality files for the exclusive use of our students this summer. Our goal is for these files to be usable by the entire policy debate community when topic debates begin. Our students will have spent several weeks working with these arguments and will be ahead of the curve when tournaments arrive.
- We are moving away from the use of isolated “labs” to teach debate. Instead, we want to return to what’s familiar by placing students in a classroom setting that allows them to rotate through a series of classes and instructors.
- We will include a set of experience-appropriate courses as well as elective options that allow students who want to focus on specific skill development to do so. If you’re attending for the “Kritik Lab,” for example, your experience will have a similar look and feel to past summers with added options.
- The return of our Scholars Program will track together students of like experience, so students will compete with others of their age and interest.
Why Mean Green Workshops Policy Camp?
- A focus on Debates at the workshops. Every two-week camp student will participate in a minimum of six debates, every three-week student will engage in a minimum of twelve debates. Our goal is for students to debate every evening that it’s possible and more on the weekend.
- Access to all of the camp staff: students will have interactive experiences with all of the policy division staff as well as members of the other debate staffs.
- Individual speaking time each day: Debate is an oral activity, students should be engaged in oral argument. There is time reserved in the schedule each day for speaking whether it is practice debates, drills, or other refutation practice.
What Others Have Said
“Eric and I were driving home yesterday from the TOC (we had 17 hours to reflect upon our debate career) and we realized we really couldn’t have made it to the semis of the TOC without all the love and support that everyone at UNT had for us. We truly appreciate everything ya’ll have done. Thank you so much.”
–Leah Moczulski (Woodlands, TX), TOC Semifinalist & 2-time MGW Participant