I’m still only a few hours removed (I’m writing this from an outlet station inside of Chicago-O’Hare) from the weekend I spent coaching and judging policy debate at the National Catholic Forensic League National tournament in Chicago Given that I had given my simulation lesson on American College Policy Debate a few days before in class (GEB 4596), I also haven’t been far removed from the same teaching teaching role I that I find myself in whenever I travel with the Oak Hall School Speech and Debate Team. As the rounds at NCFL Nationals went on it became increasingly apparent that some of the judges I was on panels with were parents and others (we call them “lay-judges”) who had never really been exposed to the jargon and speed of the activity.
The parallel was too obvious to ignore. Some of the most pressing issues with my presentation in class were the clarity of the instruction for the activity I did. Likewise, some of the most pressing concerns were with the debaters communicating in front of those lay-judges. In both situations, the communicators (myself and those debaters) were in a way telling the audience (the class and the lay-judges) what to think. The lesson to learn here is clearly to make sure that you are communicating to your audience in a way that will allow them hear what you want them to hear, in a way that they want to hear it, and that couldn’t apply to what I will keep in mind during my time in Tsinghua more if I wanted.