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I was asked to teach 14 high school students at a homeschool co-op about 30 minutes south of me. They aren’t really competing, but just taking a class, are halfway through the Christy Shipe book and have read all the Ethos 1ACs (presumably–this has been homework for awhile). What would you teach? Here’s what I went with:

Coaching Strategy:
– Start with a hook (how easy this is to forget!)
– Provide some theory that is fast and furious
– Practice so they can taste it

What I SHOULD’VE done is practiced the same thing I taught, but the main thing I needed to teach on (cases, case structure) didn’t correlate to a great practice exercise that 14 people can do in the given time post instruction (i.e. short parli cases). Two hours and I would’ve.


1. Get there a little early and write up on the whiteboards as much as they can hold without being confusing yet. This is both intimidating and gives the students a roadmap.

On one whiteboard I wrote the “Jesus quiz” stock issues exercise I favor. It has 5 statements of the gospel message, each missing one stock issue–but all in normal language so you have to decipher into theory. When we started I asked the students to identify on a paper which stock issues were missing from which one.

Then I came to the other board while they thought where I had the following (two words + graph):




The idea we’re going for here is that we just practiced. Now we need to discuss theory and then see how it works in practice. Without such “pain”, our talent at some point will taper off–like a musician who never learns to read music and therefore is very limited in the types of music he can perform. Alternatively, a musician who learns only theory may know what he wants to do in his head, but fingers on the keys the body is unable to actually DO what the mind desires. Thus, there is difference between theory and practice and both are important.

The lesson: Stock issues as they relate to case structure.

THEORY column: topicality, inherency, significance, solvency. (remarks about how these work for all everyday decisions)

PRACTICE column: outline of a case with stock issue elements written next to them. Here we can see that the THEORY we have learnt doesn’t look so orderly in practice b/c there are other competing theories (style, audience retention, identification, refutation, “building” your case, etc etc).

Definitions (T)

Resolutional Analysis (T, Significance)

Status Quo (Inherency — cause)

Harms (Significance, + inherency if tied in)

Plan (Topicality, Solvency)

Solvency (Solvency [un-cause from SQ], Inherency [new cause])

Advantages (Significance)

So the stock issues get jumbled in practice. And THEN case structures can flip every and other which way. Keeping track of the theory through morphing practices is what must be learnt.

(All this in 30 minutes so far)

Cases: Some questions (directed at individuals) about what cases they are running. We get some discussion flowing and questions answered…about whale saving, pharmaceutical dumping, chemical security, etc.

Now I want EVERYONE’S cases up on the board (we have a list of about 8). Final practice: everyone must argue against topicality of one of the cases on the board using one of three topicality arguments: Not USFG, not significantly reforming, not Environmental Policy.

It’s kind of “ending on a high note” to have people speak at the end. There happened to be a drum set there so I was sure and beyond the usual “slap the table if anyone says ‘um'”, I got to hit cymbals for filler words. Woohoo!

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