Monday, April 20, 2009

Who you callin' a codger,!

I think my original thesis boiled down to using computers in rounds because, well, we use computers in everything else, and it’s silly to bar them there. I was reacting mostly to the ineffably nonsensical discussion among $ircuit policy coaches bemoaning the cost of traveling on planes with tubs (the poor dears) mixing with the loss of local competition, which they managed to kill themselves by preferring traveling on planes with tubs. My sympathies are not strong with this particular aspect of the issue (and I’ve written on the decline of policy here at great length in the past, and won’t bother to do so again). Then some folks come along and say, hey, let’s use computers, and I, for one, say Cue the Revolution. How modern. How clever. Jeesh. Get over yourselves and just do it, for pete’s sake. It’s 2009. Any minute now it will be 2010. Soon Sarah Palin will be President and men will be walking on the moon again (out of fear of having Sarah Palin as President; no space technology will be used in the event). So, says I, computers everywhere.

You can follow my arguments here, and CP's replies vis-a-vis Extemp, by tracking back a bit, and then add CP’s latest . Poor Tiki. Poor extemp, for that matter. I definitely sympathize with the bad judges part of it. I find the few times I have judged extemp that I have enjoyed it immensely, but I have also realized that most speech judges would rather chew on Ebola brand Gummi Bears, if the opportunity presented itself. Extemp, as CP portrays it, has more problems than your average daily soap opera. More to the point (the one I was making), his summation, saying that the source of the research is agnostic and the tubs are event-tactical, makes sense to me. So, he wins, and Tik (pronounced teek) survives to attack another debater or two. But more importantly, he raises other issues with the activity that seem to me serious and worthy of improvement. I don’t have any intercourse with extemp, so to speak, so I can’t do anything about it, but I wonder if some of the FL folk who are reading this might take some of it to heart. We are such a conservative operation overall. We need to be constantly evaluating what we do, and improving it if we can. At the point where we don’t, we are failing our students. I’m not saying that we need to actually change things all the time; what we need to do is keep wondering if we should change, and we should do so when the necessity arises. Academe can either be cutting edge or entrenched; it’s best when it’s not exactly the former but a hell of as far away from the latter as possible. Question everything, in other words, all the time. Answer those questions to the best of your ability. Keep moving forward, but stay the course when the course can repeatedly prove that it is the correct one.

Anyhow, this has been a fun discussion for me. I wish there were more discussions like it out there. Given our prolix nature (otherwise we wouldn’t be in forensics), you’d think our problem would be too much talk rather than too little. Oh, well.


bietz said...

A couple of policy teams have decided to go paperless in an attempt to save money. St. Mark's and Carrolton Sacred Heart.

We'll see how that works. I'm going to try to get them to write about their rationale and experience on the ndca website.

From what I understand each team will carry a netbook and a printer in a Pelican.

We currently carry a Pelican with two printers and a computer in it to every tournament. Most of my students print out stuff as needed (if the judge will get upset if they don't have printed copies, cases, etc.) I'm going to encourage them to keep their blocks on their computers for the most part.

Rob said...

I did very well in my state in Extemp, coming from one of the top forensics schools in my state. I've gone to NFL nationals twice. Still, even though I'm in affluent suburbia in one of America's very largest cities, because I'm far from the coasts, the debate culture around here is very, very far removed from the national circuit. I'm pretty cure the only time I really found about it was through this blog, and I'm certain I could have graduated having never been exposed to its existence.

Often times when I see people like you and CP going back and forth about what is portrayed as nationwide events, it seems like a culture so far removed from me that it's easy to dismiss as a purely northeast phenomenon. (Of course, some things, like the use of computers in extemp, are universal) And that's partly why I read this blog, because I like getting an eye into that culture. But even though I'm from affluent suburbia in a top forensics school, etc. I have to say, I don't think I've ever felt like someone was speaking my language in these parts quite to the degree that I felt CP was. That really does capture quite a bit of the frustration extempers go through, especially those who had no idea places like "Harvard' were a tournament and not just a school.