Sunday, June 3, 2007

Which is the better format of debate?

This issue should cause controversy among debate lovers---which is the better format? The traditional Oregon-Oxford or British Parliamentary type of debate? Basically, I love and enjoy debate regardless of form although I should say honestly that I am more inclined towards Oregon-Oxford because of the preparation allowed to debaters who have the chance to do extensive research and deliver their speeches read. On the other hand, BP, because the motion is given right there on the spot, gives only little time for the debaters to deliver a well-thought out speech. Thus, blunders and other errors occur. But let us walk through the details so we can truly see the merits of each.

Between the two the easiest to organize is BP. In fact, it can be done instantly with students relying only on stock knowledge. So debaters here are expected to be knowledgeable about controversial issues of the day. They have to read voraciously and vicariously. After the motion and the sides are given, debaters are only given 10 to 15 minutes to prepare 7-minute speeches delivered extemporaneously. The prime minister government side opens the debate, laying the grounds, defining terms and presenting his arguments. A minute after the delivery of his speech the opposing side can now make points of information. The same procedure is repeated all throughout the debate.

In Oregon-Oxford, students are given more time to prepare, say, one month at the very least. The proposition and sides are determined ahead of time so debaters know what to research on. The period of preparation is used in research and practice. All aspects of the issue are to be analyzed, questioned and answered. In preparing for this type of debate no stone is left unturned by the debaters who should anticipate the contentions of the opposing side. It is the affirmative side which opens the debate, laying the grounds, defining terms, and giving the assigned tasks. He tackles the necessity aspect of the proposition. After his speech of 7 minutes, the first negative speaker stands up to interpellate him for 5 minutes. The same procedure is followed all throughout.

Which is the better format? It depends on what you are looking for. If you are looking for one that you can easily put up because you have little time, then use British Parliamentary. But make sure that motions are within the knowledge of the students. If you have ample time for students to prepare, then you can have Oregon-Oxford. The BP method is ideal for classroom debates. Teachers of English, Political Science or Government, Science, Hele, Values Ed. can readily use this type of debate in their classes. It is a very good way of developing students' communication skills and awareness of issues that affect them and others. Teachers may incorporate debate as one of their teaching strategies and may assign a specific day for this activity, say, every Monday or Friday.

The role of teacher here should not only be limited to giving of grades to the students. First off, she has to make clear the rules of the game and how the grades are based. Then she should note down all the good and bad points she sees or hears during the debate and should make a feedback (very important) after the activity. She should tell them what they did best, the strong points and the things that needed improvement. The teacher should give specific or individual feedback to each debater. She should see to it that errors committed in matter and manner are corrected.

The better format of couse is one that brings out the best in debaters and this all depends on the organizer(s) or coach or facilitator who is there to see to it that students become better each time.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

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