Introduction to Policy Debate

Introduction to Policy Debate

by Christy Shipe
5th Edition, ©2010, ISBN: 9781880665046
Spiralbound, 209 pages
Current Retail Price: $20.00
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Update: This product is now out of print, and has been replaced with materials from NCFCA Comprehensive Guide to Policy Debate program.

Please Note: This is a revised and slightly expanded version of Introduction to Argumentation and Debate. You do NOT need both!

There is nothing particularly special about this text that will make one a national champion. However, it must be remembered that a student should be firmly grounded in the fundamentals before proceeding on to the more complex skills. An Introduction to Policy Debate does an excellent job of concisely and succinctly instructing teachers and students in the fundamentals of debate. Broken into nine chapters, this book covers the basics of debate with brief and clear descriptions. The initial chapter seeks to simply bring the reader into the world of debate and offer a frame of reference with which to make sense of the rest of the book. The second and third chapters serve as a crash course in the rudiments of logic and evidential research—the foundation of any debate (as well as any argument in life). Chapters four through seven focus on the "how-to" of debate theory for both sides of the debate. Chapters eight and nine focus on speech delivery with specific instructions to each speaker in the debate rounds. (There are four speakers in every debate round—two teams with two members each. Every speaker has three "speeches": a constructive speech, a rebuttal, and a cross-examination.)

An Introduction to Policy Debate is just that: an introduction. It is not meant to be an exhaustive work expositing the complete elements of, or a full "how-to" manual for debate. On the other hand, it is an excellent overview of cross-examination debate without reading a thick textbook. Easily read in a day or two.

Written by Christy Shipe (the daughter of HSLDA president Michael Farris).

Table of Contents:

  1. Introduction to Debate
  2. Logic
  3. Evidence and Research
  4. Affirmative Stock Issues
  5. Affirmative Case Construction
  6. Negative Arguments
  7. Speaker Responsibilities
  8. Speech and Delivery
  9. The Debate Round: What to Expect

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  A Good Student Text on Policy Debate
TammyA of Oregon, 5/28/2011
"Introduction to Policy Debate" 5th Edition, by Christy Shipe indeed does what the title claims, give a good introduction in how to learn team policy debate.

While the 5th Edition includes a lot of material gleaned from the 4th edition, and keeps the same chapters and order (nice for clubs who had already developed class curriculum from the older edition), it is a noticeable improvement over the 4th Edition which had become a standard for team policy debaters everywhere, in particular the NCFCA league (which grew in part from Mrs. Shipe's efforts).

The 5th Edition will continue that tradition but is now a more useable tool for the novice debater and novice debate club, for both the NCFCA league and the CCNW league (with some minor modifications of rules and explanations for the CCNW), and homeshool co-ops that desire to include a debate unit in their curriculum.

The 5th Edition does more than just update the title of the 4th edition, it finally includes things lacking in the earlier edition:

An actual example of a written first affirmative case, no more guessing what one looks like from only descriptions of case elements

A written sample of a flow sheet for a round

A written sample of an NCFCA ballot

Better explanations of terms and concepts and how to do research and set up your research results

Correction of the erroneously explained Toulmin logic model (prior editions described the Toulmin terms incorrectly)

Removal of the badly explained syllogism logic section with more focus on fallacies and the type of logic used in policy debate

End of chapter questions so the book can be used as a text (although no answer key is provided if the parent has questions, and the questions are not particularly thought-provoking or insightful)

Explanation of policy debate vs. value debate

A Glossary of terms (note: each league will define some terms differently)

What the book does not do is provide guidance on how to set up a debate club or debate league; it does give a student ideas of what to expect if they participate in a NCFCA event.

It also does not go into detailed discussion of debate theories, however that is not normally helpful in an introductory manual, so that is a benefit rather than a detraction.

It is also not a teacher manual setting out how to teach team policy debate to students. It is a student text only. Debate instructors will still need to set up what they want to say for class presentation, how they want to organize and engage a class to learn debate skills, and find their own games and activities to implement learning.

I find the 5th edition continues to be a good primer text for debate students in learning how to do team policy debate.

Previewed by Mrs. Arp, the coach of the
Beaverton Homeschool Debate Club

To find debate leagues in Oregon: