The Ins and Outs of an Ordinary Life

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Thank You Malcolm Bump

This weekend is the Malcolm Bump Debate Tournament. This is a premiere event in HS debate and the primary fund-raiser for the school's forsensics teams (debate and speech). Parents are essential to the operations of the tournament. We take care of feeding the kids and the judges as well as arranging for housing the students with families in the district on Friday night. We will bring home 5 or 6 HS debaters, throw them in the basement, allow them to play video games all night if they want, and feed them milk and donuts in the morning before returning them to the HS on Saturday morning. DH and I are also going to be judging Public Forum (one of 3 debate events at the tournament).

When my son joined the debate team, I didn’t realize what I was getting into. In addition to the typical parental duties (driving here and there to drop off and pick up, donations of food and money to team activities), debate mommies and daddies have to judge at tournaments. If a team is sending X number of debaters to a tournament, then they have to provide X/3 number of judges. If your kid wants to go to lots of tournaments, then you have to go to lots of tournaments too. My son has learned more from being a member of the debate team than he has from sitting in HS classes for 3+ years. And I have learned a great deal, too. Most of my education has had math and science at its foundation. There was very little thinking involved. There was an occasional English class with a few required papers, but most of the time I was required to memorize large quantities of facts for a short period of time. Shovel in, spit out, repeat. Now, as a judge, I listen to these incredibly bright students debate topics as diverse as foreign policy, the death penalty, and domestic violence. Certainly my analytical skills have been of value, but I have no doubt that judging has forced me to sharpen my critical thinking skills. Now I look for opportunities to enhance these skills and to engage my son in lively conversations. I find myself actually reading and pondering the Op-Ed page and looking for opinion pieces online to read on the train. I listen to NPR’s podcast of On the Media. I have discovered the right side of my brain! So thank you Malcolm Bump.

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