Parliamentary Debate Judging FAQ
I am currently in the US coaching Korea's national team to take on the rest of the world's best high school debaters. The format is parliamentary debate and I thought in the spirit of working with the format I would have a column explaining how judges examine these debates. The World Schools Debating Championship rules have three factors to consider for each debater: style, content, and strategy.
Style examines the way speakers engage the audience. Volume, posture, poise, tone and pacing are all important with regard to style. It's interesting to note that WSDC ballots list style first because when Content was listed first many adjudicators (judges) treated style as only a secondary consideration. It should be given equal weight to content. It accounts for two-fifths of the speaking points.
Arguments, reasoning and evidence are what build content. Each of these three factors needs to be present to have an effective debate. One way to become better at this part of debate is to be well-read on current events. This should provide more examples. Equal in importance to the style category, content often decides debates. It accounts for two-fifths of the speaking points.
Strategy is one-fifth of the points allocated to speakers. It is a look at teamwork. A team is made of three debaters and the team must figure out who will say what among team members and when. This should be allocated appropriately. Also, how the speaker deals with answering questions is part of strategy.
Points of Information are the way that debaters ask questions (in the middle of speeches) in debates. The opposing team may stand to ask the speaker a question, which the speaker can accept or reject, but should accept a pair of questions in his/her speech. WSDC rules make a space for a deduction or addition of points based on how bad/good the debater was at asking questions.
It's really important to remember that judging debates is really about educating debaters. Please be sure to give constructive criticism-what was good and what needs improvement-to each debater.
I have received several kind emails lately and really appreciate it. I would like to ask that people visit the online version of this column and consider asking questions or discussing topics there.
Roger Hatridge coaches Korea's WSDC team and can be reached at Hatridge@gmail.com.