Jun 1, 2012

The Great Debate Club

6/01/2012 — cori
You guessed it...another tradition.  And, keeping with custom, we stumbled upon this one as well.

At dinner one night, Gavin was trying  to convince all of us that he would make a great lawyer and could persuade anyone toward his opinion.  Of course nobody agreed with him.  Before we knew it, we were talking about having a real debate.  The kids couldn't have been more excited.  They asked if we could do it every week (please?!).

We set the date for the next night, right before pizza and movie night ('movie' being a loose term to describe either "The Next Food Network Star" or "HGTV's Design Star).  We also set some ground rules:

1.  You only have 5 minutes to present your case
2.  Give each person a chance to speak without interrupting
3.  Speak clearly and look people in the eyes when you talk
4.  Disagree agreeably (during rebuttal)
5.  Really listen to what each person says
6.  Research and record what you learn. Print it up to use as notes

We couldn't have been more thrilled!  Aren't these life lessons we desperately want to instil into our kids anyways?  They orchestrated the best teaching/lesson plan for us.  All we did was make the logo.
Of course we have a logo!  To be honest, that's probably the first thing Chuck and I thought about (after all the wonderful life lessons this was going to teach our precious offspring, of course).  Afterall, we are going to have a binder full of everyone's notes and assessment rubrics and that binder can't just have a blank face.  We need to know what's in it.  This is what happens when two designers live under one roof.

Guess who got to be the first judge?  Me.  Believe it or not, it's much harder than you'd think.  You don't have to get up and talk, but you do have to really listen, give positive and constructive feedback and everyone is scared of you.  I'm actually looking forward to not being the judge next time.  The person with the highest score on their rubric becomes next week's judge.  Gavin will be judging tonight's debate.

If you're curious,  lasts week's topic was: The Most Dangerous Animal.  Gavin's most dangerous animal was the mosquito.  He had excellent research notes and facts.  However, Bennett's speech held me captive and won me over out of everyone.  He was arguing that the Black Mamba was the most dangerous.  Chloe chose the Polar Bear and looked like she wanted to cry the whole time.  Chuck picked the Hippo as the most dangerous animal, but didn't speak with as much conviction as either Bennett or Gavin, thus dropping his points down on his rubric.

Tonight's topic:  The Pros and Cons of Video Games (we all have to vote on the topic).  We drew from a hat to find out what side of the argument we were on.  This week we are doing teams.  Believe it or not, both Chloe and I randomly picked the "cons" and Chuck and Bennett picked the "pros".

Chloe is pumped about it.  She already printed out her two page research paper (done in a lovely 36pt font) and has it memorized!  She highly encouraged me to spend the day memorizing my research as well.  I've been trying desperately to recite each paragraph as I'm vacuuming and dusting and cleaning the bathroom.  I would so much rather turn in my research paper and declare, "this is what the whales are saying" compared to trying to take something that is already well written and have to say it aloud.  Not cool!  This is definitely going outside my comfort zone.  I prefer to write over speak any day.  I guess if the kids can learn from this, so can I.

What's the worst that can happen?  I fail?  Everyone laughs at me?  But I have to remember that these are the people who love me the most in the world.  If I fail, I just learn what not to do for next time.  If they laugh at me, I laugh too because I don't want to take myself so seriously that I can't laugh at myself.  This is just a win/win situation.

I rest my case.


We ended up having a guest debater join us on this fine night.  A neighbor who got wind of what we were doing said, "I have got to be a part of that!".  Just so happens he's a 15 year old boy who has great interest in the "pros" of gaming.  He wanted his side heard.   So, we gave him the basic rules and gave him time to research (which he said he didn't need-he already knew all the good stuff about video games).

I have to say, I was very impressed by the "pros" side of the argument.  They presented their case well. Everything in moderation seemed to be key; which I agree with whole-heartedly.  Then Chloe and I presented our side.  She did so well!   However, Gavin, the judge, gave me feedback that said my presentation came across more like a seminar, a boring one.  Live and learn.

During the rebuttals, an interesting point was brought against me.  I kept giving disparaging facts abount violent video games.  Our neighbor told me all video games aren't violent.  Good point.  I should have titled mine, "The Negative Impact of Violent Video Games" not just 'video games'.  He also consented that many boys do it out of boredom and that he does have friends who admittedly spend way too much time playing them, but if they had other interests to keep them busy they wouldn't.

I asked him if parents have anything to do with it.  If parents don't teach kids how to make responsible choices when they're younger, they won't make responsible choices when they're older - especially in relation to video games.  He said he agreed completely - parents are key to everything.  An interesting admission from a 15 year old boy.  It was a delight to have his point of view and for the kids to see that we are not against video games but that we are for responsible choices if you chose to play them.

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