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Competition, Community, and Educational Growth

Contemporary Perspectives on Competitive Speech and Debate

Edited By Kristopher Copeland and Garret L. Castleberry

Competition, Community, and Educational Growth: Contemporary Perspectives on Competitive Speech and Debate is an up-to-date text providing informed academic thought concerning the impact of forensics. Its primary focus is to demonstrate how the forensic activity allows students to actively engage and learn outside the classroom. Specifically, Competition, Community, and Educational Growth focuses on how students educationally grow through the activity. The book frames methods and pedagogy as best practices to provide educational growth for students and explicitly connect learning outcomes for students. Coming from the perspective of higher educational instructors, the book provides insight beyond the high school experience. Competition, Community, and Educational Growth examines contemporary perspectives on competitive speech and debate theory, experience, and methods of instruction.

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Chapter 12: The Value of Dissenting Opinion in Collegiate Individual Events Pedagogy (Ben Walker)


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The Value of Dissenting Opinion in Collegiate Individual Events Pedagogy



In 2013, I judged a final round at a national collegiate forensic competition. At the time, I had judged in several out rounds, but never a final round. I sat in a crowded room and witnessed six beautiful performances baring heart and soul. One performance in particular stood out. When the student sat down after her 10 minutes, I was floored, weeping, and unsure of what to write to finish my ballot. I do not recall the last words I wrote on the ballot, but I do remember noting it was the only perfect score I gave the entire time I was judging at a tournament full of magnificent performances.

Later that day at awards, I was stunned to see the student receive 6th place. Being a national finalist is an incredible honor, but I could not help but feel she had been cheated. Everyone in that final round was stupendous, but she clearly was the best in my eyes. A thought crossed my mind: “my rankings must have differed greatly from the other judges.” Then another dreaded thought, which many judges secretly fear, came into focus: “I was the squirrel.”

The label “squirrel” frequently describes a speech judge whose judging paradigm sharply departs from others at a particular tournament or specific round. She/he thus demonstrates said difference with unique...

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