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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 20: Soul Sharing: Forensics as a Cultivator of Empathy and Worldview Development (Anthony Woodall / Shawna Blake)


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Soul Sharing: Forensics as a Cultivator of Empathy and Worldview Development



The room is silent. All attention is brought to the competitor at the front of the room. As they (they being singular) bring their book to bear, and slowly open it, the silence becomes stronger. The judge stops writing and looks up to see a pained face that struggles to speak.1 The introduction to a performance in Poetry Interpretation begins, and competitors curiously shift forward in their desks. As the competitor closes their book, they present a narrative encapsulating the psychological trauma that parental abandonment can ignite, reminding the audience that “daddy issues” are the subject of highly inappropriate comedy. They open their black performance book to continue. Unprepared for the raw performative power displayed, the judge and fellow competitors struggle with their emotions. Stories of children abandoned by one or both parents unfold. Characters become visibly and audibly distinct. As the performance reaches narrative climax, characters question why they had to live through such a terrible event. This experience was a unique one, real in how it made one of the co-authors feel. Yet it was not the only time a competitor’s performance imparted an emotional impact on an audience within the forensic community. The use of emotion in competitive speech and debate has several benefits from a competitive standpoint, but what happens when these powerful performances affect our...

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