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This is part two in a series focused on helping you improve in parliamentary debate. In my last post, I briefly spoke about the benefits of parliamentary debate and provided 20 practice resolutions for you to use in club or on your own, to improve. This post will feature 10 resolutions along with tips for guiding reading and research outside of tournaments to give you the best possible edge with limited preparation rounds.

The Importance of Reading and Keeping Up with Current Events

There are a few reasons why being well-read is so important in parliamentary debate.

  1. Better Use of Prep Time- Being knowledgeable about the topic that is posted allows one to focus more time on developing arguments and ensuring a consistent, coherent position from both speakers. This allows for one to go deeper into the argumentation and improves content.
  2. Relevant Examples- Some debate topics do not require any knowledge of current events. They are philosophical or deal with fun scenarios about pop culture or everyday life. However, often, concrete examples can be applied to support points regardless of the nature of the topic. These examples, whether they be from books, historical events, breaking news, or pop culture, allow one to build connection and credibility with judges, especially those who focus on the practical over the theoretical.
  3. Forming Opinions on Relevant Issues- Reading to stay informed about current events is not just important because it will help you succeed in rounds; rather, it is a key role in becoming an informed citizen who can articulate and support one’s beliefs. Knowledge allows one to persuade, and to strive for truth, by first looking at common ground, and moving forward. It also gives one sympathy for those who are struggling, and can inspire one to act to fight injustice.

How to Systematically Read to Prepare for Rounds

So you may be wondering how you can best prepare yourself for parliamentary debate rounds outside of practice rounds and learning theory/strategy. Here are a few tips for guiding your reading and research:

  1. Read a Variety of Sources- Read newspapers, fiction books, scholarly journals, law reviews, and magazines. Read philosophy, economics, history, science, sports, international articles, domestic articles, and map out a schedule to help you focus on what you need the most help in. Perhaps you read half an hour a day, rotating topics every week.
  2. Take Notes- While you read, take notes of your findings so you can consult them in prep time. Note events or arguments that can be used as practical and tangible examples to warrant your points. By doing this, you will not only become more informed about the world, but able to articulate truth concerning Charlottesville, Korea, the Middle East, etc.
  3. Share Resources- This is where debaters can truly grow—by working with others to improve. Form preparation groups with other debaters, sharing notes on certain areas of interest, and rotating from history to philosophy to economics, etc., to provide each other with a deep level of knowledge across the wide scope extemporaneous speaking or parliamentary debate can cover.


Practice Resolutions!

Credit for several of these goes to the coach of my college debate team.

This house, as Oxford University, would “no-platform” Milo Yiannopoulos.

This house, as Israel, would accept a two-state solution, with East Jerusalem as the capital of an independent Palestine.

This house would boycott companies due to unequal pay solely due to gender or race.

This house regrets the “War on Drugs.”

This house regrets the increasing demand for “all-natural” products.

Resolved: Government laws which protect individuals from themselves are unjust.

Resolved: The US federal government ought to require students learn a foreign language throughout elementary, middle, and high school.

Resolved: Economic sanctions are unjust.

Resolved: In education, career preparation is overvalued.

In a futuristic society, a new peak, Mount Cambridge, emerges as the highest land mass on the earth, standing 30,000 feet above sea level. No one has reached the summit successfully. You are climbing Mount Everest, and are 75% up the mountain when you see another hiker stranded and running out of air. You only have enough air for you to summit the mountain, or for you to return with the hiker. Resolved: Summit the mountain.

A new debate season is beginning and there are many more events to come that will impact our world. Keep informed, and seek to become a better speaker, debater, citizen, and witness for Christ.

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