Almost four years ago, the venerable Thaddeus Tague (former Ethos owner and certified debate genius) wrote “The Unrivaled Success of Ethos Debate.” In the article, Thaddeus lays out the core history and development of Ethos during his involvement with the company, and let me tell you: it’s pretty impressive. Ethos has a history of training some of the best minds in the competitive speech and debate scene.
Fast-forward to present day. Ethos underwent a leadership transition in the summer of 2020, and I’ve been here at the helm for over two years now. I have to say, these have been some of the most intense, fun, and rewarding two years of my life. I couldn’t have asked for a better group of coaches and debaters to work with. The amount that I’ve personally grown in my understanding of debate and pedagogy shocks me, and I think that’s primarily due to the minds we have associated with our brand.
That said, I think it’s high-time to give everyone an update about where our company is right now, why our company exists, and where I expect that we’ll be going in the next few years. This isn’t an “Unrivaled Success of Ethos Debate, Pt. 2” — that will come later. For now, I want to walk you through the set of resources we offer and explain my motivation behind the development of each.
Just a quick note: each of the headings below are links. Click them to read more about that Ethos product or service.
In the beginning and middle of every competition year, Ethos releases our series of top-of-the line Mastership sourcebooks for debaters across the nation. If you’re new to the debate scene, “sourcebooks” provide debaters with a set of evidence, organized mostly into Affirmative cases and Negative briefs, that can be used to get a leg up on the competition in the early season. Ethos releases four sourcebooks for both TP and LD across Stoa and NCFCA. Many, many debaters bought and used Ethos sourcebooks last year. In fact, I received reports from my students that top debaters were still using arguments, cases, and strategies first developed in Ethos sourcebooks at the national tournaments.
Why are Ethos sourcebooks gaining in popularity? I’ve found that other sourcebook companies employ minimal guidance during the writing process and very often contract with high school students. The end product is often a set of briefs with little strategic viability and often suffering from lack of cohesion. I developed our line of Mastership sourcebooks to resolve this problem. Each year, I hand-pick some of the best researchers across the nation to work on an intensive, summer writing team. I personally review every card, sentence, and brief that our writers pick. We only hire college students and professionals to write for our sourcebooks (this year, we had a lawyer, and economist, 3 debate champions, and an academic philosopher), and we always pay our writers the best rate on the market. My rule of thumb with our writers is simple: if you don’t think you can win early-season tournaments using the briefs and cases you submit, then they’re not good enough for the Ethos sourcebooks.
One of the most popular resources we offer is individual coaching for debate events and speeches. In fact, I just did the math: Ethos coaches completed over 300 hours of individual coaching this year, not counting all the lectures and coaching we did as a part of Ethos Legends. Our expert coaches on staff have been hand-picked by yours truly based on their character, success, and overall understanding of theory and strategy. Everyone on the coaching staff is an alumni of either NCFCA or Stoa, and they’ve led hundreds of students across both leagues to victory! And we don’t only coach high school debaters. Increasingly, lawyers, CEOs, and other business professionals have been turning to Ethos for guidance in the development of their presentations and arguments. Whether you’re new to the activity, an advanced debater, or you’re starting a new club and need some TP coaches to Zoom in and give a few lectures, Ethos coaches can and will help you succeed.
All Ethos coaches are hand-picked by yours truly. I review those that want to work for us and select candidates that demonstrate a clear passion for communication, virtue, and maturity. My vision for the homeschool debate leagues is to increase the average level of true debate comprehension — picking up on the “debate behind the debate.” As such, all Ethos coaches are required to have a very robust understanding of the ins and outs of argumentation. Real world experience also sets Ethos coaches apart. All of our coaches are accomplished alumni in speech and debate, but within our midst we have an economist (myself), two lawyers (one studying at Harvard, the other a Duke graduate), an academic philosopher, and some very strong undergraduates studying everything from political science to cybersecurity. This real-world experience is what allows our coaches to guide students with a focus on the development of character and skills that will spill over to life outside of highschool forensics.
Ethos Legends is the official online debate community of Ethos Debate Communications. Purchasing a Legends subscription gives debaters 24/7 access to Ethos coaches on our Discord server, weekly lectures (all recorded) in debate theory and strategy, monthly negative briefs on some of the best cases in the league, a 10% discount on most Ethos products, and a solid community that’s essential for team preparation. Some of the top debaters in the country use Ethos Legends — in fact, every NITOC debate final round this year had at least one Ethos Legends debater in it, and a Legends debater was on the National Championship team in NCFCA TP! The debaters in Legends challenge even me to rethink positions and formulate my debate views in better ways. Our community will certainly assist you (or your students) to do the same.
Need a camp run in your area? Our coaches are some of the best minds in debate, and we can organize and assist with camp preparations throughout the summertime. Ethos has a very solid track record of organizing camps that will get at the fundamentals of what every debater at the camp needs to learn. Please reach out to us and we’ll see if we have the availability to send an Ethos coach to help you put on the best camp you’ve ever had!
Last but certainly not least is the famous Ethos blog! Since 2006, the Ethos blog has been one of the biggest free resources helping both new and advanced debaters develop their understanding of forensic speech and debate. Every week during the school year, the Ethos coaches publish between one and five blog articles that are specifically geared toward addressing relevant issues in the debate community. Subscribe to our blog mailing list to get the newest articles in your inbox every single week!
Admittedly, I’m a bit of a visionary. My goal as CEO and Head Coach of Ethos Debate Communications is not just to help debaters win, but to help them win well. Humans are communicators, and a good human will be one that communicates with his fellow man effectively and purposefully. At Ethos, our methods emphasize promoting the good character of our debaters. In fact, “Ethos” is a Greek word from Aristotle’s writings about the canons of rhetoric, and it translates closely to “credibility.” My desire is to give debaters an archetypal example of what good debate (and speech!) looks like. My hope is that debaters who use our resources will build this credibility over time, increasing both the educational value and the usefulness of debate to all who participate in it.
Thank you, and always feel free to reach out to our organization.
Jadon Buzzard is the Head Coach, CEO, and owner of Ethos Debate Communications, LLC. As an economist by day, Jadon is currently pursuing a Master’s degree in Applied Economics at Montana State University. An alumnus of Hillsdale College, Jadon received his Bachelor’s degree in Economics (with honors) in 2021 with a minor in Philosophy. Read full bio.