Saturday, March 31, 2012

Trying The Other Kind of Debate

There is certainly no official rivalry between those who debate in Team Policy and those who debate in Lincoln-Douglas. There is, however, a mentality that has developed in which both kinds of debaters generally think their type is superior. The LDers think, "We're LDers. We have a secret society, in which we debate about principles that actually matter. We look at the real world, not hypothetical plans. And that's both in and outside of rounds. We like to discuss philosophical ideas when we're not even debating. And what do the Policy debaters do during IEs? They argue to the death as fast as they can about everything. Not cool." The TPers think, "We're TPers. We're actually proposing solutions to real world problems. We do a ton of research to learn and evaluate. LDers research ideas, but we research actual facts. Real things. And we love debate so much that we debate outside of rounds about everything. It's good for you. And we know what we're talking about. You can tell because we talk really fast. The LDers are really cliquish. They just talk to each other, about values and the Founding Fathers and Hitler and stuff. It's weird."

Even though we debaters tend to be pretty passionate about whatever style we prefer, there is the occasional crossover. And sometimes, those brave souls do really well in competition. Like a bunch of people just did last week. But before we go there, I would like to interrupt for the parent judges and present the following DEFINITIONS AND CRITERIA, which will come up later in the round post. Ahem.


LD- refers to a type of debate formally known as Lincoln-Douglas in which one competitor debates another competitor regarding issues of values. Note: Despite rumors spread by the TPers, LD does not stand for "Lonely Debaters," "Lame Division," or even "Loser Debaters."

TP- refers to a type of debate formally known as Team Policy in which two competitors debate two other competitors regarding policies that may be reformed by the US federal government. Note: despite the opinions of the majority of Americans, TP does not stand for "Toilet Paper."

Hipster- a person who is desirous of evading what is "mainstream" and doing things before they are cool that you've probably never heard of.

Mainstream- something that most people enjoy, do, partake in, ect.

Suicide T- eight minutes of solid Topicality arguments in one round. In the first speech. Then another 8, and then 5 and 5. It's called Suicide T because judges tend to cringe at it, as you are probably cringing now, Judge. But some TPers find it attractive.

All definitions come from the Dictionary of Chandler, volume IV.

The criteria for this round will be "Affirmative victory." Essentially, whichever ballot you believe will further my chance of breaking is the ballot you should go with.

Oh, and my value is "Winning."

Ahem. Moving on. There is no observation two. Sorry.
But, it is my firm belief that the LDers are the hipsters of homeschool forensics. I mean, first off, there are often about as many TP teams as there are LDers at any given tournament. This means that twice as many people are doing TP! It's so mainstream. Secondly, LDers are generally more independent, or "indie," if you will. You can tell because they debate alone. Occasionally, you get a TPer who thinks, "Hey. I should try LD. It might be fun." In fact, at very recent California tournament, students were given the option of debating in both LD and TP. (and Parli) Man, those TPers swarmed over to the other side, even if they still kept one foot on the Policy side of the line. But everyone knows that the LDers were doing it before it was cool. Especially the LDers. (They're nice people in real life though, so they were probably happy that so many TPers finally saw the light.) Still, what was kind of underground suddenly became mainstream! It probably caused quite a predicament. Parli must be the new hipster type of debate, then. I mean, it has its own national tournament. It's called PITOC. What's that? Yea, PITOC. You've probably never heard of it.

However, that doesn't mean that switching debate styles only happens one way, though. Sometimes LDers try out TP. Whether it's to partner with a sibling, try something new for their senior year, protest a resolution, or have an excuse to run Suicide T, it happens. Maybe LD became too mainstream for them, possibly. I've noticed that sometimes the best debaters are really good at both, no matter where they're coming from. That's always cool. I think it is, at least.

So hey. Why not try something out the other kind of debate? It could be awesome.

I know! Let's invent a new kind of debate, one-on-one, in which the debaters have to argue in funny accents about whatever resolution is announced fifteen minutes beforehand. We'll call it Interparliamentary. It'll be great. My club volunteers to host iPitoc.

You're homeschooled. Try something new.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Tournaments You're Not At

Yes, grammar nerds, I realize that "Tournaments You're Not At" is grammatically inaccurate, but "Tournaments At Which You Are Not Present" didn't flow quite as well. If you've put up with my fragment sentences, made-up words, and use of commas as if they are going out of style, a phrase I never understood, then I'm sure you'll forgive me, yes? Cool.

Anyway, I was getting "untopical" for a second there. Now, for those of you who are not grammar nerds (like, 2 of you), your first thought was probably, "We like tournaments that we're not at? I thought homeschoolers were like, 'Compete at ALL the tournaments!' so why would you like one you weren't competing in?" That's a good question. Have you ever not been at a tournament? Have you ever obsessively checked online or texted or called someone to see how your friends are doing? Are you notorious for stalking results on speechranks? Hmmm? I thought as much.

First, checking online. Do you know that some people actually push and shove their way through the postings line just to take pictures of postings and put them online so that everyone can see them? You probably did. 'Cause it's true. And everyone appreciates it, because everyone's obsessed with the tournaments they're not attending. We want to know how our friends are doing. And if other people want to tell us, yay for them!

Sometimes we text or call people. Last year, my friend and I were hanging out over at her house while a tournament was going on. I kept making fun of how often she would answer her phone to hear who just broke and then freak out. I, being a non-debater who hadn't even heard of these teams, didn't care and made fun of her. A year later, aka last week, I definitely texted her to get breaks and then she called me and I got excited and also lamented with her and yea, I know. I'm such a hypocrite. Well, I would be, but I don't tease her any more.

I used to think I was the only speechranks stalker, but I've been disproven repeatedly. It doesn't even extend to only competitors, because you can totally stalk tournaments. I love seeing the people of really tiny tournaments who win, like, 8 of the 9 events they have. You know, the sort of tournaments where only 3 people get checkmarks in each event. Those are great. The big tournaments are really fun too, because I love seeing people get tons of points, even though I keep moving down on the speechranks list as they move up, which is annoying, but whatever. It's still fun. I like seeing really good teams that win tournaments and then I'm like, hey! We debated them! I feel less bad for losing now! And then sometimes, I see a team win a really small tournament, and I'm like, hey! We debated them! I feel awesomer for winning now!

Even tournaments we don't attend can be exciting, because whether our friends are there or just people we almost know, we can get into the tournament mode too. And that's fun.

You're homeschooled. 'Cause that's where it's at.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Winning Against Really Good Debaters

Today I learned that two novice kids in my club recently beat a really, really good team at a debate tournament. Man, I was proud of them. That is a good feeling. When you beat a good team or LDer, no one asks about your speaker points. They're not concerned with responses you made in other rounds. They don't even care if you didn't get a winning record and checkmark. All that matters is, wow! You beat ____-_____, and they won a tournament or something! Wow!
Then everyone high-fives you and gives you hugs and chocolate.
Well, not chocolate. That would be cool. If I had an M&M for every time I beat a good team, I'd have, like, more than one M&M. It'd be great. I would eat them in a bowl of peanut butter ice cream.
Anyway, besides the hypothetical chocolate rewards, another super cool benefit of beating a good team is that your nerves were for nothing. My debate partner always got nervous really easily. I think his thought process went something like, "Oh no! That team is composed of debaters! They must be good." or maybe "Oh no! They each have a last name. We're going to lose." or perhaps "Oh no! They probably have evidence. We're literally going to die." Like I said, nervous easily. To his credit, it never showed in the round. You can imagine that whenever we hit teams with lots of evidence and recognizable last names accompanying their pretty strong reputation, he was a lot more nervous. I had to pretend like I wasn't so that our team wouldn't utterly collapse, but I was a little nervous too. In a good way, I guess. It was nice the few times when we hit really good teams and found out upon receiving our ballots that we had somehow gone against the odds and picked up the victory. 
Another advantage is an extreme burst in confidence. When you win a round, especially against a team you felt you should've lost to, you're going to feel better about your self and your apparently-mad skills as a debater. The same goes for speech. If you get a high rank in a room where you know some seriously incredible competitors also were speaking, you get to feel awesome. 
Another element that boosts your confidence is the way your teammates treat you. Yes, we all applauded that novice team that had that unlikely yet evidently warranted victory against that one awesome team. When I was in a similar boat once, some of my well-meaning teammates tried to exaggerate the situation. "Is it true that you kept ____-______ from going 4-2?" they asked. While I wished we could've taken responsibility, I had to reply that, no, they still went 4-2, and keeping them from a higher record was obviously not a single-handed effort. The kids may have been a bit disappointed, but hey. I'm thrilled they thought so highly of me. 
We try to be humble and not expect to win. But we do our best anyway. It's so cool when that pays off. Debate records, RFDs and all else aside, if you captured a ballot against a team that no one expect your mom thought you capable of beating, you win and stuff. Congratulations. Soon you'll be one of those great teams and we'll all be so proud.   
You're homeschooled. You win at life in general.

Friday, March 23, 2012

The Hunger Games

Now before you yell and scream "Non-unique!!1!" since the The Hunger Games is not something that is solely liked by Christian Homeschooled Speech and Debate Kids... well, ok, I'll concede uniqueness, but please hold off on the screaming. Not that I'd hear you over the sound of excited teenagers who still haven't recovered last night's this morning's midnight premiere. Anyway, even though tons of people like the Hunger Games, we like it in a different way. It's because we're not only homeschooled, but we also talk competitively. We're different. 
So yea, as everyone in America knows, The Hunger Games film came out today. My sister is fairly convinced that everyone in America was at the theater she visited last night. I wasn't. I was sleeping, though I would've loved to go. Other Americans I know of who did not go to a midnight showing of some sort are the various CHSADKs who are at a tournament this week, and there are several of those going on right now. Some people, I hear, went anyway, but I guess if you aren't going to be able to sleep at a tournament, you may as well not sleep in a movie theater.
At one of my homeschool classes yesterday, we had a mini-discussion on the first book of the series and whether or not it was considered good literature, ultimately deciding that it was, despite word-choice and grammar that might make a homeschooler cringe. I actually didn't notice either of those issues while reading, but maybe because I'm an interper and get really into character when I read. Actually, speaking of character, we kind of dismissed the actual writing aspects on the basis that anything resembling Dickens or Tolkien or another great author would have been out of place for Katniss, the main character and narrator. It's amazing how many good discussions could be pulled out of that book. I mean, it's a fiction novel about a society (our society, by the way) who basically abandons God and any system of morals or values, which consequently results in their having an evil dictator. The nerd in me thinks de Tocqueville could have come up with the plot had he so desired. The homeschooler, I mean. And then, there's the classic idea of good vs. evil, with good rebelling and fighting for freedom and if that doesn't make a homeschooler happy, I don't know what does.

Now watch as the Hunger Games phenomenon sweeps our little community even more. Girls will start wearing their hair like Katniss in tournaments. No, I guess they pretty much do that already, even if unintentionally. Well, people will soon talk of interping it. Wait, no, they already do that too. Maybe they'll use the Games as an application in LD? I don't know, but it would totally work. Or maybe they'll take archery and call it PE? Does anyone do that? THAT would be awesome.

You're homeschooled. May the odds be ever in your favor!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Being Sneaky In Cross-Ex

There is a reason that Cross-Ex was my favorite part of debate rounds back when I was a mere observer. Records indicate that I used to think "Cross-Examination" sounded like a surgical term, but that Cross-Ex was fun to say. Try it? Cross-Ex, Cross-Ex, Cross-Ex. See? It's fun. Anyway, since I didn't know how to flow, or how to speak "debate" in general, I had a difficult time following/paying any attention to rounds, and Cross-Ex was the only time I felt any real clash and excitement.

The foresight of debaters to ask sneaky questions that would come up in a later speech impressed me most. At the risk of giving away a secret of my debate team, there is this one question we sometimes ask. You start out... no, never mind. I won't tell you. Otherwise you'll be prepared next time one of my people debates you. Let's just say, it's clever, sneaky, and silly enough to impress me when I was a non-debater, and I still consider it quite brilliant.

One sneaky tactic that I noticed was using the phrase "Are you aware..." to make arguments in Cross-Ex. But then, I'm always irked when people try to make arguments in Cross-Ex and justify it by ending the responses with question marks. I don't know why that bothers me so much, it just does. But I'm not throwing out this particular phrase entirely. I wouldn't say using this phrase is always mean. Sometimes, debaters use it to be cocky about their arguments, but others genuinely want to know if the person is aware of whatever. Sometimes, it's a helpful question, because you discover that they are perfectly aware, and sometimes you get to clear stuff up. I was once debating a girl who was novicer than myself, and one of her arguments against the 1AC showed she was really confused about our case and misunderstood the meaning of one term. I asked, "Are you aware that ____ refers to ____?" The poor girl just stuttered and probably blinked several times (I couldn't really see her) and replied, "Uh, no." I smiled and told her it was okay and that I had no further questions. Was I being sneaky? Yep. But the judge probably thought, "Oh. Ok. That's why she made that argument. She misunderstood." Suddenly, the judge gets what the girl was going for, and perhaps sympathizes, but all credibility whooshes over to the aff and we win. I like that kind of sneakiness. I like being nice and then winning.

The best kind of sneakiness may be getting them to admit to something that they don't realize they're admitting. That is talent, folks. It's also a lot of fun:

"So, how does your Counter-Plan affect tax loopholes?" (your plan does)
"It... doesn't." (here he's confused)
"Ok. How does it affect taxes?"
"It doesn't affect taxes." ("was she even listening?" he thinks)
"Does it affect revenue generation?"
"No." (now he's a little annoyed)
"So what you're saying is, it has nothing to do with our plan?"
"Sure!" (he says in exasperation)
"Then, that means that we could do both plans at the same time?"

And then your partner gets up there and runs Perm like crazy. That sort of thing works splendidly against novice teams, and I seem to hit novice teams frequently, but that doesn't mean you can't be sneaky against big, scary teams too. If they don't notice, it's even more fun. Lots of opportunity for Cross-Ex sneakiness. Cross-Ex can be terrifying. It can also be a blast. It depends on how you look at it, and how sneaky you are.

You're homeschooled. You can't be trusted.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Being Really Extra Dramatic in DIs

I just practiced my DI about 30 minutes ago. My throat still hurts. Also, I just cut stuff from it, so I was "practicing" it by sitting down and reading the script straight off my computer. And then I realized I was hitting my desk really hard on the angry lines and then I stopped doing that. Yet somehow it felt really good.

We like knowing we can get into character, I guess. We can be angry when we want. We can bring tears into our own eyes on occasion. We can even recover quickly and thank the judges for timing, and that is a valuable skill.

How often do you see a DI that just isn't dramatic at all? It's quite infrequent. I mean, it happens, but not every day. Even pieces entered as DIs that are more OI in nature are still dramatic. It seems to me that far more often we'll see a DI that is reallly dramatic. Sometimes the drama is fitting. Sometimes it's way over-the-top. That's just how interpers are. We like being really extra dramatic in DIs. We like being really extra dramatic all the time!

If you're in speech and debate, the odds are good that you like being in the spotlight. You like people staring at you. You like jumping on a big stage by yourself. If you're in DI, then for some reason, you even get a kick out of dying from time to time, and that's totally ok. How often do you get to die or hurt somebody? How often do you get to scream as you're being tortured? How often do you get to pour your heart and soul into a anger-filled monologue while three moms watch with tears in their eyes?

For us, all the time. We love it.

Just let it out, man. Let it out. Sometimes one of your multiple personalities characters has something to say and they've just got to scream it really super dramatically. And we like it that way.

You're homeschooled.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Having A 10 Minute Speech

I'm not good with time. I mean, if I look at a clock, I can tell you what time it is; that's not an issue. What I'm not good at is looking at a script and telling you how long it is. Or whenever I think I'm right, I'm wrong. Or whenever I time an interp or platform, and the timer says ten minutes, it's actually not. In competition it will be 11. Which is, you know, fantastic.

So then it's back to the drawing board, or word-processing program, as the case may be. It is time to cut. So I cut and cut and cut and cut and cut. I then do one of two things: I will either read everything I have cut in succession to determine how long it took me to read, and assume that that time is the approximate amount of seconds I just shaved off this speech. Alternatively, I may calculate my words-per-minute reading rate, add up the amount of words I cut, and go from there. If I want to be really sure I've cut enough, I do both. This is the process I followed with a recent DI that was going much, much too long. I estimated a 45-second decrease in time based on my two experiments.

Naturally, the dang speech just got longer.

Timing is hard. I should also mention that I have never, ever had a speech that was too ridiculously short. Oh, except once. My first interp I ever gave was, like, 7:30. But it didn't really make sense. So I added stuff. A few short weeks later, it was up 3 minutes. Like I said, I hardly ever have luck with time. I feel bad. I get why judges rank me down for it. It's not fair of me to take up a bunch of extra time that other people could have been putting to good use if they went over time. Please forgive me, other people. And judges.

That's why it's so great when you have a speech that's an even 10. Or close to an even 10. Some people get away with 11:00. Some people break with 8:05. Some people win tournaments with 13 minute interps, or so I've heard. But those people are weird and not normal, and are certainly not me.

Having a ten minute interp or platform is an often-eluding goal. But man, it feels good when you get there. It feels awesome to hear the high-pitched voice of an adorable timer tell you everything's all right. Then you can live in peace until the next pattern.

You're homeschooled. Time's up.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Debating Against Your Friends

I like my friends. Obviously. That's why I'm friends with them.
Also I like debate. Put the two together and it's like, whoah! awesome! Debating with friends is fun. Last  Monday, I, in an extreme lapse of sanity, agreed to debate my good friend in LD despite the fact that I had never before done LD. But you know what? It was fun. I'm glad I did it. Everything's more fun with friends.

Recently I found my first flowpad from back in the ancient days when I had only been doing TP for like a week. It's amazing comparing it to the flowpad I use now. So much has changed since then. The pens I used then are out of ink (though I still keep forgetting the green one is), I can actually do a 1AR that's five minutes, I know the meaning of fancy terms like "affirmative," "harms," "timer" and "running permutation on non-mutually exclusive counter-plans." But you know what hasn't changed in the numerous months since my uber-novice days? On both my first flowpad and the one I'm using now, admittedly my... second, one consistent theme is that I often debate my friends.

Sometimes they kill me. I mean, not literally, and they're nice about it and all, but I'm pretty dead by the end of it. I guess that's what happens when you have 3 teams in your club who are some of the top teams in the nation and your coach makes you debate two of them the summer before you officially even start in Policy and then the other team very shortly after because you'll apparently learn something. We had fun, but man. I had no idea what the heck was going on. Cross-Ex was a nightmare. But then my friends would always hug me afterwards and sometimes tell me all about the flaws in their arguments so I could attempt to, I don't know, metaphorically poke them next time while they ruthlessly claw at my responses and then unrepentantly destroy them until they no one even remembers they exist. And then hug me.

The great thing about debating friends, though, is that they're fun about it afterwards. Sometimes you debate acquaintances, and you're not sure how you're supposed to feel about them afterwards, so you're nice, of course, but it can get a bit awkward. Sometimes you debate people you've never met or even seen before, and you're not sure if you're all of a sudden supposed to be friends or if you should keep pretending like you've never met, because, if you want to get super technical, you probably haven't. But when you're with friends, even if you don't like them very much during the course of the round, you know you can act like everything's great afterwards.

I love debating friends who, immediately after the round, pretend like it didn't happen. Let's pretend we weren't just arguing. Let's pretend I wasn't attempting to rip your arguments to shreds or attack your credibility with various evidence indicts. Let's pretend I didn't take a careful flow of the 1AC so I can tell everyone in my club about it later. Let's just be friends again. That would be awesome.

So you are. And you laugh and joke and at the next tournament, someone will say, "That was such a fun round, but I still don't know how we won."
"Wait, seriously? You guys so deserved that!"
"No way! You two are great! And-"

And life goes on.

You're homeschooled. No dispute there.

Monday, March 12, 2012

When Your Friends are Community Judges and Love It

You should've seen my church on the Sunday before last. It's not a very big church. It would probably not be an exaggeration to say that 75% of the adults at my church were judges at our recent-est, local-est tournament. Which was awesome.

They were all discussing their experiences before and after the sermon. One judge told me about his Apologetics adventures. He thought the first speaker had a pretty good idea of giving three points within his speech. It didn't take him long to realize that that was what everyone does. Suddenly it was a lot less impressive. He also was annoyed by long introductions and wished that kids would just state their topics right away so he could cross it off the secret judge topic list. But I had to explain that most judges like flowery intros.

He had fun judging LD too. Yet he was startled, because he had been told in orientation that he shouldn't say anything during the round. And then, right before it started, someone asked him if he had any judging philosophy or anything he would like to see or not see during the round. He wasn't sure if he should answer, but he told them that this was his first time and he wanted them to make things simple for him. Then he noticed that both kids were reading their cases they had already written, and figured they weren't bothering to change anything. He was determined to give them something sneaky and nefarious next year to see if they would do it, like "I want you to end all of your speeches by explaining why your opponent should win." I told him that probably wouldn't fly.

It was definitely interesting hearing what everyone thought and who they judged. A lot of them had a lot of big-name speakers and debaters, who they were happy to hear ended up in finals or out rounds. It was also fun hearing one man explain Parli to another and two guys trying to express to someone else the awkwardness of Cross-Ex ("They would look at me, and then talk to the other person. So they're making eye contact with me, but they're not talking to me. It was so weird!"). I talked to my aunt about OOs she saw, and was happy to hear that she ranked my friends pretty high. All-in-all, Sunday was fun. They finally got to see what I partake in all the time and maybe understand why I'm so addicted.

Finding community judges is hard. How many people have a few spare hours lying around on a weekday, or feel like spending Saturday at some school or church somewhere with a bunch of teenagers? Only the awesome people. We love those guys. And really, we're doing them a favor. They always love it, right? They always want to come back. Your job is just that much easier next time around.

You're homeschooled. Thank you for judging.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Taking Forever To Fully Recover From a Tournament

I didn't debate last year. I just speech-ed. That meant a significantly less amount of early mornings and late nights than I have experienced this year. My mom attempted to talk me out of debating so that those early mornings and late nights would be less likely to occur, but it was to no avail. Yes sir, now I have experienced my fair share of early mornings and late nights at tournaments. It's not that we stay up and party at tournaments. No, we stay up and argue with each other. It's way less cool.

You know that moment at a tournament where it just hits you how tired you are? Maybe it's when you look over at your partner before the 2NR when there's 1:40 left on the prep time clock and ask what his responses are and he stares at you like you're crazy and says, "This is your speech." Maybe it's at 11:30 PM when you're crawling into bed wondering if you remembered to give all of your speeches in Pattern B or if you forgot one or two so you stay awake thinking about it for another 45 minutes or so. Maybe it's when the tournament was running a bit behind or something, and for whatever reason they decided to post when you haven't even given all your IEs from the last pattern yet, so you hurry up and do those and then run over to your room only to find out that SURPRISE! there's a class going on in there and they have to relocate you, so you wait outside for 15 minutes for your partner and the judge and the tournament people and then you carry all of your stuff down several flights of stairs and way over to the big, smelly gym where you set up shop and get ready to go Neg against what proves to be Abolish the Death Tax for the twelveteenth time and just as you finish the Disads you had virtually memorized in the 2NC, you sit down and then the other team yells at you and you're like, "What? Oh yea, Cross-Ex. I forgot about that." Not that that happened to me the 4th round of the last tournament. (Was it 4th? It might have been 6th. I don't remember. I don't even think I knew at the time.)

But then, that sneaky tournament is almost over. And you're like, Whoa. It's Saturday? Where did that come from? And then it's the awards ceremony and you half-heartedly clap for ten-hundred people. Then it's over. You vaguely remember your friend winning... something. And you glance at your hands to discover that you somehow came out with a trophy and then notice several medals around your neck and you're not sure how either of those shiny things got there. Your mom asks you what place you got in ____ and you have no idea and tell her to check speechranks in a couple days.

Then comes the good part. You go home and sleeep and sleeeep and sleepandsleepandsleep. For days. Weeks even. You take like nine days off from thinking about speech and debate (except for a few hours Monday night) and try to get caught up on your homework. Because, seriously. The next tournament is in, what? Two weeks? You've got all the time in the world to recover from the last one.

hahaha. Yea right.

You're homeschooled and takin' it easy.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

How to Explain Debate To Outsiders

I enjoy talking to my non-speech and debate friends about speech and debate, and I appreciate that they are willing to listen and feign interest. They get interps because they've seen me do a bunch of them. They get impromptu because it's a fairly simple concept, even if they don't know why anyone would ever do it ever. They get platforms because everyone knows what a platform speech is even if they don't know the technical terms. I rarely try to explain Apologetics or Extemp. But this year I started debate, and that, sir, is a whole different ballgame. I have attempted to explain debate to people many times. Sometimes they are smart and realize that they should just pretend like they understand so I stop trying to explain it. Sometimes, they actually get it.

My explanations of Team Policy debate back when I was a non-debater went something like this:

First off, there's this thing called the Resolution. It tells you what they're debating about. So like, if the Resolution said, hypothetically, that we should reform our revenue generation policies, than the Affirmative team would come up with a Plan that reforms a revenue generation policy or two and then roll with that. But then, the other team, called the Negative, gets up and says "No, no, no, no! Stick with the stuff you know! It is better by far to keep things as they are. Don't mess with the flow, no, no! Stick to the Status Quo!" And then the Affirmative has to talk again about why their plan is good. It's not as hard as it sounds. Well, it sort of is. But you get the idea.

Except they usually didn't get the idea. So I try something less ramble-y and more professional now that I actually debate:

Ok, let's try something less ramble-y and more professional. Basically, we have a, um, topic that they give us that we need to debate about. So the affirmative first team stands up and gives arguments and a plan that the government should do, and then the second team argues against them and they go back and forth for 8 speeches. It's fun.

They can usually understand all of that except the last sentence.
But just in case it doesn't click, try this:

Ok, so, there's one team that argues something and then the other team disagrees with everything they say.

Debate in a nutshell, people. Let's pretend that Counter-Plans don't exist, and that no one cares if they're Topical or not. It's best to avoid any mentions of theory, speaker points, timers, flowpads, breaks, records, stock issues, and judges that fall asleep mid-round when trying to portray our little sport to those who have no clue what you mean as it is.

LD is a little easier.
One person argues with another person against what they should like better.

Boom. You're welcome.

You're homeschooled. I hope that makes sense.