STUPID – Lincoln-Douglas Debates

by Tom Terrific

My wife and I just participated in the Webster University speech contest. Besides normal types of speeches, after-dinner, informative, persuasive etc, they also have a contest they call a Lincoln-Douglas debate. The students study an issue for a year and then when the debate begins, they flip a coin and and whomever wins gets to decide if they want to argue the affirmative or negative.  If you look at YouTube videos where actors portray these debates, you might think that this would be interesting, fun, and informative.

The Lincoln-Douglas debate format however seems to have morphed into a technical debate, more concerned with technicalities than issues. I am particularly troubled that this form of debate has developed into a rapid reading contest. I can talk faster than you, so my points must be better. There is little eye contact, emotion, humor, gestures etc. – all elements needed for traditional communication.

This is what our colleges are teaching! STUPID !!!


After talking to a local high school forensic and debate coach, I was informed that there is a national pedagogical (get out the dictionary) dispute over which is the best way to hold these types of debates. Luckily, at this one school, speed is actually  discouraged. It appears that at the college level speed is encouraged and rewarded.

One thought on “STUPID – Lincoln-Douglas Debates

  1. Gerry was really impressed and thought the debates were great! I think “Lincoln Douglas” is a great name for a debate form.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s