The professional debaters have left town following the Iowa Caucuses and now the high schoolers will take over with the state debate tournament that begins today in Ankeny. Craig Ihnen, the executive director of the Iowa High School Speech Association, says students will compete in four categories.
He says the four disciplines, are policy debate — a two-person debate, LIncoln-Douglas one-person debate, student congress — where they debate like congress does. The newest category of public forum debate, where they debate topical issues in the news. Ihnen says the students are judged on how well they represent their case.
Ihnen says each category has an affirmative and a negative side, and a judge listen and scores the debaters based on who presented the better case for their side. He says the judge may disagree with the resolution, but may feel you presented the best argument for your side. "So it’s basically a discussion of facts and ideas and research," Ihnen says. He says this competition does a lot to prepare students for other things.
Ihnen says it’s one of the top areas for developing skills for the future in developing research techniques and the ability to speak and present good arguments. Ihnen says 37 schools will compete and unlike sports, there’s no separation of the schools based on their size.
Ihnen says the real exciting thing is that all the schools compete against each other, as he says some of the smaller schools that have some of the most outstanding programs in the state. He says the competition is based on how hard you want to work, so there’s no need for a classification. The state debate tournament begins today at the Ankeny Des Moines Area Community College campus, and wraps up with the finals on Saturday.