In order to enable middle school students to continue debating throughout high school as most YG students do, YG only teaches high school debate formats. In speech and debate, students learn skills like public speaking, cross-examination, and basic research in order to construct sets of arguments and defend their position. We offer coaching in events equivalent to those featured in California high school and college competitive events.
The Young Genius "advantage" is that we tailor our classes to the group of students we are instructing. There is no "class in a can." We work with each group of students by adjusting to their level of ability and instructional needs. We are educators first, focusing on ethics, skills and knowledge. Even so, we offer students the opportunity to attend tournaments and put what they learned to the test. We have achieved outstanding competitive success-- even winning high school tournaments with middle school students.
Forms of Debate
The goal of Congressional Debate is to simulate the U.S. Congress, either the House or the Senate, by debating bills and resolutions of current interest. The competitive format is 10- 15 students in a room delivering speeches and asking questions of each other. While the goal is to simulate the U.S. Congress, we like to think that our students are sometimes better behaved and more knowledgeable than their adult role models in the real Congress.
Generally, we teach students from 5th or 6th grade all the way to High School seniors. Congressional Debate classes focus on the skills necessary to be successful in the event. Research, persuasive speaking, active listening, critical thinking, accurate and extensive note taking, and cross examination skills are all integral to the course. Congressional Debate is the format which is the easiest to master and we offer it as an introductory course for students with no prior experience in debate. Congressional Debate is usually a stepping stone to LD or Public Forum Debate.
See discription and an example Student Congress round
How to Judge Congressional Debate
Lincoln Douglas, or LD, is modeled on the original debate between Stephen Douglas and Abraham Lincoln in 1858. The format is one student debating one student. LD is "value" debate which means that the debate focuses on the values explicit or implicit in the resolution being debated.
We teach students generally from 5th or 6th grade all the way to High School Seniors. Ld classes focus on the skills necessary to be successful in the event. Research, persuasive speaking, active listening, critical thinking, accurate and extensive note taking and cross examination skills are all integral to the course.
Lincoln Douglas debate topics change 5 times a year and some tournaments have their own topics so there is always something new to learn 12 months a year. The summer is a time with few or no tournaments, which allows us to focus on skill development without the need to prepare for a specific tournament, ultimately making Summer an excellent learning time.
See an example LD round
How to Judge LD Debate
Parliamentary & Extemporaneous
This class capitalizes on the fact that “Parli” debate and “Extemp” both require the ability to think quickly on one’s feet and to have broad knowledge of current events.
Parli debate competitions feature the students, in teams of two, getting the topic for the debate round only 20 minutes prior to the start of debate. During this preparation time they may consult materials they have prepared in advance, but they may not be coached nor may they use the internet live in real time. Thus, they must know a little bit about almost any current event topic in order to debate with some expertise.
Extemporaneous Speaking is a speech event in which the students get the topic 30 minutes in advance and again must prepare without coaching or live internet access. At the end of 30 minutes they are expected to speak for 7 minutes, without notes. The Director of the Young Genius program, Don Heinsohn, has coached several state and national finalists in this event as well as individual state and national champions.
As these two events are so similar, students can get instruction in both events in almost the same time and effort as preparing for a single event. In essence, this class is a two for one deal and a great value educationally.
Young Genius is proud to be the only program in the Bay Area with such a course offering. If Parli and Extemp are for you, this is your class!
Public Forum Debate was originally based on the CNN show "Crossfire." (Which CNN claims to be planning to restart) It is two students on a team debating two other students. The topics are "ripped from the headlines" which means current events such as Drone Strikes, Income inequality etc.
We teach students generally from 5th or 6th grade all the way to High School Seniors. Public Forum classes focus on the skills necessary to be successful in the event. Research, persuasive speaking, active listening, critical thinking, accurate and extensive note taking and cross examination skills are all integral to the course.
See Introduction to PF Debate
How to Judge Public Forum Debate
All debates must be based on the current National High School Debate resolution chosen under the auspices of the National Topic Selection Committee of the National Federation of State High School Associations. The Topic Areas selected by the National Topic Selection Committee shall define the context of all policy debates.
Each speaker shall have eight minutes for constructive argument, alternating affirmative to negative. Immediately following each constructive speech, one of the opponents shall question the speaker for three minutes. Each debater shall take one turn at questioning. Each speaker shall have one four-minute rebuttal, alternating negative to affirmative.
See the Policy Handbook
Forms of Speech
There are two types of Spontaneous events: