Primary school debate club – 08. With Tony Davey

Duration: 16:34

Transcript – Primary school debate club – 08. With Tony Davey

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TONY DAVEY: Hey guys. This week we're going to take a look at definitions in debating. Every week we've been putting out a video of a really great coach talking through a specific definition with you, so you can probably pick up everything you needed to know there, and I recommend you go and check out some of those videos. But today we're going to have a quick look at the basic steps that an affirmative will go through. And more importantly, we'll talk about what negatives should do if they don't expect the definition that they get. That's one of the biggest questions that I get. So let's get into it.

So if you're the affirmative, and your job is to define the topic, you need to basically answer three questions for us. Those questions are, where is your change going to happen? What are the details of your change? And when is your change going to happen?

So basically, you're going to put together a little plan for the change in the topic. Some people, by the way, will call this plan a model. You can call it your definition. You can call it your plan for change. We don't really mind. Alright, so you're just going to answer those three questions. Let's practise that now on the topic, that primary schools should teach self-defence classes.

OK, so let's start with the where. Where are these primary schools going to teach self-defence classes? In most debates, the answer to the question where is Australia. Typically, if you want to go into a bit more detail, it is the biggest possible group, but in Australia. Once you get into older debates, sometimes it's the whole world. But again, you probably want to stick to Australia in most debates.

In terms of the where, there's really no reason to leave out any schools. Because the topic says primary school, that means the biggest possible where is primary schools. It can't include high schools. But otherwise, this is going to happen in every primary school in Australia-- too easy.

Alright, so let's move on to this question of what are the details? Now, we don't want too many details here, right? Imagine you've been invited by a friend to come along to a thing. You don't want to know everything about it. To make your decision, you just probably want to know what is the thing, like is it fun? How are we getting there? Will it cost anything? And about how long will it go for?

That's all you need to know to decide if you want to go along. You don't need to know the route that you're going to take to get there. You don't need to know minute by minute what you're going to be doing when you go along to this fun thing, so just a few basic details.

Another way of thinking of it is, pretend you are the government of Australia. And you're making a rule, and you want voters to understand what it is. But you don't want to bore them with every single detail, so you just want to tell them what they need to know in order to decide whether they like your plan or not.

Here, we've got a few questions, right? So I'm wondering to myself, OK, primary schools are teaching self-defence classes. What year groups are going to be involved? What kinds of stuff are they going to learn? And, I guess, how long is it going to take? Yeah, that's probably about it. Oh, lastly, I guess I'm wondering, is it going to happen during school hours? Maybe it could happen after school hours.

The best way to make choices about all of those questions is just to remember what's the problem that you're trying to fix, right? So if you're asking yourself that, you should make choices that actually fix the problem. So the problem we're trying to fix in this debate is probably some version of stranger danger and kids getting in trouble outside of school, along with bullying. We want kids step strategies to defend themselves from bullying.

So when we ask ourselves what year groups, the truth is that between Kindy and Year 2, you probably don't get allowed to-- you're not allowed out anywhere by yourself. There's really not much bullying. So maybe we could leave them out and say in Years 3 to 6. That sounds about right to me.

How long is it going to go for? Well, we want it to make a difference, but we don't want it to take forever. So it makes sense to me that would be roughly an hour a week. That's about how long it takes to learn one of these schools. So 10 lessons a term, yeah, that sounds about right to me. That's going to solve the problem because it's going to give you lots of information about how to avoid stranger danger, or fight your way out of a situation, or avoid bullying, or report bullying, or whatever they're going to teach you.

That's the next question then. What are they going to teach you? We don't need a minute-by-minute lesson plan. We just need to tell people roughly what's going to be in the classes. It makes sense that we'll have, like, half of it be talking about what bullying is and what stranger danger is, giving you strategies to avoid those problems and talking about them. And half of it is going to be the physical stuff, teaching you a little bit of self-defence, and karate moves, and what to do in certain situations so that you can protect yourself. So you can just say it's going to be half listening to theory and chatting about different strategies to protect yourself, half learning simple martial arts techniques to get yourself out of danger.

I suppose the last thing we want to know is should it be after school, or should it be during school? To me, it's pretty obvious. If primary schools are teaching it, we probably need to find time to do it during school because it'll screw things up if we do it in the afternoon. So those are my details-- one hour a week, Years 3 to 6, half talking, half karate, and during school hours.

The last question we have to ask ourselves then, is when should this start? This is actually a pretty big change. We're going to need to either train a lot of teachers or employ people to come to the school maybe one or two days a week to teach these lessons. You don't want to learn karate from someone who doesn't know anything about karate. So we should probably leave it until at least the start of next term, right?

If you feel like that's too soon, just remember that during this COVID-19 thing, we ramped up online learning within the space of a couple of weeks, and it worked pretty well. So if we care about it enough, we should be able to do it in about a term, right?

So if I'm the affirmative, that's my plan-- in all Australian primary schools, Years 3 to 6 kids for one hour a week are going to do a mix of theory and practise on self-defence starting next term. Hope that makes sense.

But what if you're the negative and you've heard something you weren't expecting? Well, there are some simple things you can do to make sure your debate stays on track. First of all, think back to that very first video about the basic steps for a debate. Remember, the first negative basically has to agree with the definition and say, yep, that's the definition we're fighting under.

But what if you've written arguments that don't fit under their definition? Maybe an argument about how Kindergarten kids are too young, but they said it's only about Years 3 and 6 kids? Or maybe an argument about how it will take up too much school time, but they've surprised you and said it's only going to be one hour a term? What do you do in that situation?

OK, well, first of all, you need to ask yourself, is this a big deal, or could I just change my arguments a teensy bit and everything would be fine? So you look at your arguments, and you say, this doesn't fit right now. But if I changed a couple of words, would it be OK? A lot of the time, the answer will be yes.

So for instance, if they say it's for Years 3 to 6 kids, and you've got an argument about how Kindergarten kids are too young and too dumb to be involved in these classes, you could probably just cross off the word Kindergarten and write Year 3 kids are too dumb and too scared to be part of these classes. You could probably even say that about Year 6 kids. See, if you could change a couple of words, the argument is totally fine. That means you don't have to worry. Just change those words, right?

If the other team said we're not doing it during school hours. We're going to make the kids stay back one day a week for this. If you had an argument that said, oh my gosh, we're going to lose time from school now, that argument won't work. But you could probably make the same argument, it's just that now it's not about missing out on school time. It's about missing out on extracurricular stuff and homework. So you've just got change a few words. You don't need to worry. Change those words, and boom, you're ready to go. Problem solved.

Now, if that doesn't work because it's very different to what you're expecting, there are three simple steps you need to go through. The first step is to make a little tent with your fingers. The next step is to move them in a little wave motion like this, and the last step, it's your choice. You can either say 'excellent' or 'mu-ah-ha-ha-ha.' And the reason you're doing this is the other team have probably just screwed up their own case, and you're about to smash them.

Let's talk about how that's going to work. So basically, their change is going to fall into two different categories if you weren't expecting it. The first is maybe it's a much smaller change than you were expecting. And the other is maybe they've gone much bigger than you were expecting. That's not just about where it will happen. It's about the impact of the change, right?

So the first thing you're going to do is you're going to say to yourself, oh my gosh, I wasn't expecting this definition. And then, you're going to say to yourself, can I change any of my arguments so they still fit? Change them. That's right. And then, you're going to ask yourself, wait, is this smaller or bigger than I thought they were going to go? If they've gone much smaller, that means there's a good chance their change won't actually fix the problems they're talking about, right? So if they said, for instance, it's only going to be one day every term that kids learn these lessons, there's a good chance that one day a term won't actually teach anyone anything because they'll forget it by the time they get bullied or by the time they're out on the street and they meet a stranger, right?

So sure, your argument about how they're going to miss out on maths classes because they're doing so much training-- that argument won't work anymore. You could just replace it with a bit of rebuttal that says, dude, if you teach people once a term, they forget it immediately, so no one learns anything. The truth is, affirmative, you probably don't think kids are in any danger at all. You probably don't believe that this stuff is happening to kids. That's why you're only trying to spend one hour a term on this thing.

See, if they make their change smaller than you were expecting, you can say, well, you haven't really fixed the problem you are talking about, so either you don't believe that problem exists-- hey, us too. Or the problem maybe exists a little bit, but you're not fixing it at all. What's going on? That's if they make a smaller change than you're expecting.

If they make a bigger change than you're expecting, then it's also probably true that they've stuffed up, and you've got the upper hand right now. So the problem with making a bigger change is that there can be really big side effects that they haven't thought about. Imagine, for instance, they've said the classes will be daily, that every single day kids are going to have to do one hour of karate. Well, if you've got an argument about how they're not going to learn anything in just one hour a week, well, you can't make that argument now. But you can say, wait a minute, one hour a day? Guys, you are going to destroy school. Like, a fifth of the school has basically disappeared so you can learn a karate chop. That's madness. And everyone in the audience is going to go like, oh, yeah, that does sound crazy.

If they go really big, and they're like, we're going to spend one hour a week teaching kids self-defence, by which we mean full-on martial arts with swords and guns training, and then we're going to give every kid a gun, you don't need to say, ho-ho, that definition's wrong. We don't want a debate about that. You want to say, all I have to do now is win a debate about whether we should train primary school kids to use guns. I think I've got this covered. And you just point out why that is a terrible, terrible idea. See?

So first thing to do is ask yourself could I just switch around my arguments a teensy bit? If you can, do it. Next thing to ask yourself, is the change smaller or bigger than I thought it was? If it's smaller, then they're probably not fixing the problem they talked about, and you can say, guys, even you don't believe this problem exists. Or if it's bigger, they've probably got some terrible side effects that you can now point out during your rebuttal, even though you've lost an argument.

One last thing about that-- you can do that smaller/bigger analysis, even if you've adapted your arguments, right? So you could do both of those things. Adapt your arguments, and then say, also, this is smaller, which means they don't believe that there's much of a problem. Why are they leaving out Year 2 kids? Does that make sense?

One last thing for negatives to worry about. What if they haven't given you a definition that was smaller or bigger? They've given you a definition without enough detail in it. They just haven't given you enough information. Well, a lot of primary school kids in that point try to disagree. And they're like, first of all, they haven't told us when this is going to happen, or, ah, they haven't told us how long this is going to go for. Don't do that. Just assume for them, and exaggerate a little bit so that it helps your side of the case. If they don't say how long these things are going to go for, you can just say we assume it's going to be basically two lessons a week, and that's going to be really disruptive. Does that make sense? Or if they don't say when it's going to start, just assume it's going to start straight away, and say we really think that's a bad idea. They're not going to be able to find enough karate teachers.

One warning, though-- just because they don't tell you something in the definition doesn't mean it's not obvious. If they, for instance, don't tell you how long it's going to be, but during their arguments they keep going, one hour a week of karate will really help kids defend themselves, I mean, they've kind of told you what it's going to be-- one hour a week of karate.

So in summary, if you are the negative and you hear a definition you weren't expecting, first of all, try to just tweak your arguments a bit and change a few words so that they still work. Second of all, if they've really gone nuts, ask yourself, OK, is the change much smaller or much bigger than I thought it was going to be? And then replace the arguments that no longer work with attacks on, if they were smaller, the fact that the problem won't be fixed by their model and say they probably don't believe the problem exists, or if they've gone bigger, attacks on the side effects, and say they're going to blow up all of school just to teach a few kids karate chops.

Then lastly, if the problem isn't that, it's just that they haven't giving you the information you were expecting, don't complain. Just add that information for them when you do your own rebuttal, and assume that it's a little bit worse for them than you thought-- than they said it was going to be. So just, finally, for instance, say they in that debate didn't tell you what was going to happen in the classes. Well, that's great for you. Just look at your arguments and say, do I want these classes to be mostly violent because I have an argument about how it's going to make kids more violent, or do I want these classes to be like mostly boring and just sitting there, because I have an argument about how they won't learn anything. And then just say the other team's plan is to teach these kids really violent things, or the other team's plan is to have these kids sit there and just listen to a lecture on bullying. They haven't told you what the plan is, so you can probably get away with that a little bit.

OK, so that's kind of everything you need to know about definitions in debating. One last thing about that-- in the vast majority of debates, we're just not going to care that much about the definition, right? You might score cheap points on either side. You might be able to set things up a little bit better for yourself. But don't sweat it. If they've got a plan that looks like it is, I heart this idea, and you looked down at the palm cards, and they mostly say something like, I really hate this thing, you don't have a definitional problem. You've got a great debate that's about to happen, so don't worry too much about the definition. Just get in there and do the most important things in debating-- your arguments and your rebuttal.

OK, hope that helped. We'll see you soon. Cheers, guys.

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