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ByDaan Spackler and Rob Honig

This is how Lagerhuis+ improves high school debating

Source cover image: DebatUnie

There are many debate formats in the Netherlands. In this new series, debaters tell you why they think a certain debate format is the best. This time: Lagerhuis+, especially for high school debating. Do you want to read more about how Lagerhuis+works? Click here (Dutch).

In the discussions about the best debate format, the largest group of debaters is sometimes forgotten: high school students. In Dutch classes, a “debate” is held at hundreds of schools in the final years as a school exam. You’ve probably experienced it like that yourself. Until recently, teachers of Dutch opted for the classic American parliamentary structure; usually with 2 versus 2 speakers. In recent years, more and more people have switched to the “Lagerhuis+” form of debate (a variant of the “World Schools Format”), also in debating clubs.

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ByFabian Beitsma

Debating Parenting

Bron cover image: Eckerd Connects

I am Fabian, 23, and almost graduated in clinical psychology. I started debating in the fourth grade of high school, and it immediately fascinated me. Debating involves a combination of a competitive element, plus the development of many skills such as analytical and critical thinking, processing speed and abstract thinking. Debating has brought me a lot more besides these intellectual skills: part-time work as a debate trainer for politicians, making many friends and acquaintances and an accepting environment for LGBT+ people and identity formation.

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ByFabian Beitsma

Tiger Parenting: good or bad?

Source cover image: New York Times

In this article, I have discussed different parenting styles. I will apply this knowledge to a motion that often comes up, namely:

This House supports Tiger Parenting.

This is a form of upbringing in which the parents set high standards for their child but also reward them for achieving a result.

The observant reader will have noticed that the simplest argument for the statement is that Tiger Parents are, in a sense, authoritative parents. They set high standards but are also committed and rewarded for good results. This ensures that the child has enough positive reinforcement but also develops positive cognitive schemes such as “I can achieve anything if I work hard”. They see the value of making an effort for something that will only give you long-term reward (such as studying for a degree), which is important for later skills such as financial responsibility.

An argument against the motion is that parents are, or want to be, insufficiently aware when their child cannot meet the high standards. Much milder forms of developmental disorders such as a non-verbal learning disability or Klinefelter syndrome are sometimes not noticed until late or even never. As a result, children are punished for not being able to plan enough or achieve high performance. By repeatedly being negative reinforcement without understanding where the problem comes from, children develop negative schemas like “I always fail.” These schemes are not only limited to learning but also determine how they deal with social relationships and other situations.

ByGijs Weenink

Why is Policy Debate the best debate format?

Source cover image: NK Beleidsdebatteren

There are many debate formats in the Netherlands. In this new series, debaters tell you why they think a certain debate format is the best. This time: Policy Debate. In the article, Gijs Weenink will explain what Policy Debate exactly is.

My name is Gijs Weenink. I am the founder of the Tilburg Debate Society Cicero in 1991, the Nederlandse Debat Vereniging in 1993 (the predecessor of the Nederlandse Debatbond), the Nederlandse Debatinstituut in 1997, and the Debatacademie in 1999. In 1995, I won the 5th Dutch Championship Policy Debate with Frank van der Salm and after that, I joined the Committee of Recommendation. In 1993, I followed the Policy Debate course at the University of Leiden in Language Management. The Policy Debate course was also available for years at Public Administration in Enschede and at many universities of applied sciences. In 1995 (Cork) and 1997 (Athens) I participated in the World Debating Championships. With the Debatacademie, I was able to lead 2,500 Lagerhuis debates with 250,000 participants in 21 countries in Europe. In addition, I gave approximately 2,500 debating and speech training sessions to 25,000 participants. I have written three books; one about debating in organizations (Durf te kiezen, April 2018), a book about crisis and leadership (Never waste a good crisis, April 2020) and one book, together with Richard Engelfriet, about online meetings and presentations (Ben ik in beeld?, May 2020).

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ByMike Weltevrede

Tab workshop: Interview with Tatjana Stanic

On October 24, 2020, the Nederlandse Debatbond organized a workshop in tabbing, held by Marthe Wijfjes. To date, Marthe has tabbed over 30 competitions. She has assisted all Dutch debating societies (except ESDA Chronos) at least once by tabbing their tournaments. Internationally, Marthe has been part of the tab team of Novi Sad EUDC 2018 and she has tabbed most major online competitions in mainland Europe.

One of the participants in the tab workshop was Tatjana Stanic. She was kind enough to sit down for an interview about her experiences with the tab workshop. When asked to describe herself, Tatjana said the following:

Tatjana usually struggles with answering the simple question “Where are you from?”. Namely, she was born in Serbia, spent her early childhood in Russia, moved back to Serbia, then moved to Hungary and all of this by the time she started high school. Unfortunately, in none of these places debating was part of the education system. It remained a thing she admired from far away. Her last move was to Maastricht to start an MSc at the business faculty. Thankfully, this city had a debate club: Rhetorica. She joined just over a year ago and is loving it.

Q: Why did you decide to join the tab workshop?
A: Tabbing has always been a mystery box to me. I have been curious about it but I never knew how it was done. So, I wanted to learn! Moreover, there are a limited number of tabbers in the Netherlands and, since we do not know for how long they are still on, I wanted to make sure that we at least have a tabber for our own tournament.

Q: I can imagine that there were many questions to be answered and many things to learn. What was the most valuable piece of knowledge that you picked up on?
A: Marthe explained the whole process of tabbing very clearly. She took us through it step-by-step as if it was a real tournament. This, combined with the interactiveness of the workshop, meant that I got a very clear idea of what generally has to be done and what tasks a tabber needs to take on. I realized that there is actually much more going on than I thought but now I know how everything connects to the specific items of organizing a tournament.

Q: What traits do you think a tabber should have and do you think that you have those?
A: A tabber should be able to be in control and perhaps even have a loud voice (or a military voice as a fellow member of Rhetorica calls it) to retain order in the tab room. One of the things that I will like about tabbing is actually the messiness of it; when all hell breaks loose and everyone starts screaming, a tabber should trust that they can fix it and have some sort of inner peace. I believe I can do that.

Q: As a result of this workshop, will you be tabbing some tournaments?
A: Definitely! Marthe offered to take us along at a future tournament that she is tabbing to really put the knowledge that we gained into practice. That seems really cool to me so I will definitely take her up on that offer!

Q: Thanks for the interview, Tatjana! Do you have any final remarks?
A: I think the workshop was well organized and thorough; it covered pretty much everything. I want to repeat that the opportunity to tab alongside Marthe at a tournament is a cool idea which will be very useful.

Were you unable to attend but are you still interested in watching the workshop? It will soon be up on our YouTube channel so make sure to keep an eye on that.

Source cover image: https://wallpaperaccess.com/tabby-cat

ByJonathan Kellogg

Why is WSDC the best debate format?

Source cover image: DebatUnie

There are many debate formats in the Netherlands. In this new series, debaters tell you why they think a certain debate format is the best. This time: WSDC. Do you want to read more about how WSDC works? Click here.

I am Jonathan Kellogg, a past-DSDC debater. I am now studying at LUC (I am aware of the cliché). As a schoolie, I have participated in numerous WSDC format tournaments in both Dutch and English. I have also participated in numerous BP tournaments. I doubt whether there is an objectively “best” form of debate; it is largely a matter of personal preferences. But the WSDC format is one of the most underappreciated formats among students and deserves more attention than it is currently receiving.

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ByGigi Gil

Should we ban Artificial Intelligence in criminal proceedings?

This is the last part of our series on Artificial Intelligence in debating. Read part 1 and part 2 too!

In the previous two articles, you have read what is meant when we speak of artificial intelligence (AI). Mike has done the hard work. In this article, it is my honour to give an example of the application of this knowledge in debating, based on the following motion:

This House would ban the use of statistical risk assessments for determining penalties in criminal proceedings.

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BySrdjan Miletic

The strongest argument against vegetarianism

This post outlines an argument against vegetarianism. I originally used it in a workshop to show how arguments can be convincing without being one-sided or overly aggressive, a problem which I find many debaters arguments fall into. I repost it here in case anyone else is interested.

Vegetarians believe that eating meat is always wrong. As I see it, most modern vegetarians believe animals have some degree of rights and hence that eating animals, which involves killing them, is wrong. I absolutely agree that animals have a certain degree of rights but I still believe that eating meat is by no means immoral. I believe this because I believe that being killed is preferable to never being born. Not eating meat indeed does mean that animals are not killed but it also means they never live. This is because my individual decision to not eat meat means that there is less demand for meat which in turn means fewer animals are produced to satisfy that demand. This is a problem for vegetarianism as, if we assume that animals like humans would rather be alive than dead, then not eating meat means animals are worse off than eating it. Instead of living short lives before dying, they do not live at all. There are three potential responses to my argumentation which I would like to tackle. One response is that the conditions animals in factory farms suffer are indeed worse than death. I do not believe this is true but even if it is, it is entirely possible for meat eaters to restrict themselves to free-range meat which gives the animals it is taken from a reasonable quality of life. If this means eating meat less often, so be it. The second, better response is that morality if absolute, not relative. Even if eating meat is better for animals than not eating meat, that does not make it moral, just comparative less immoral. For example, torturing and raping someone is worse than just torturing them. That does not mean torture is moral, only that it is comparative less immoral. Hence, both eating meat and killing animals as well as not eating meat and causing the non-existence of potential animals are both immoral. The moral course of action would be to ensure animals exist and to not kill them, for example by donating money to animal sanctuaries The issue with this line of argumentation is that it presumes acceptance of not only a negative duty to not harm animals but a far stronger positive duty to ensure they live and live well. If you accept we have such a duty then vegetarianism can indeed stand up to my objection. But, the consequences of accepting we have such a positive duty are that we need to intervene wherever animals are suffering, even in nature at the hands of other animals, in order to prevent that suffering. Given that most people would not accept that we have a duty to intervene in nature in such a way, I doubt most people do believe that we have a positive duty of care towards animals and hence I believe that this specific defence of vegetarianism is not sufficient to persuade the average informed voter that they should be a vegetarian. The final response is that talking of the preferences of non-existing beings is ludicrous. For example, arguing that women should always be pregnant else they deny non-existent children their right to life is crazy. So is arguing that not eating meat denies non-existent animals the right to life. Our aim should be to avoid killing and if that means fewer animals so be it. The problem with this response is that even looking only at the preferences of currently living animals, insofar as we can assume animals have preferences, it is hard to imagine that any species of animals would prefer a world where their species did not exist or existed in far reduced numbers, to one where they did exist but some of their kind who would otherwise not have been born are killed by humans. Hence, even ignoring the preferences of non-existent animals my argument still holds.

Banner image source: https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/320047

ByNoah van Dansik

Why is Eloquentia the best debate format?

There are many debate formats in the Netherlands. In this new series, debaters tell you why they think a certain debate format is the best. This time: Eloquentia. Do you want to read more about how Eloquentia works? Click here.

I am Noah, twenty years young and the president of ASDV Bonaparte. I am also a municipal councillor for GroenLinks and I study law at the University of Amsterdam.

At Bonaparte, we debate in both the AP and BP format but my absolute favourite is Eloquence (Eloquentia in Dutch, elo for short). Rhetoric and eloquence are central to this format. You don’t win with just good argumentation but you have to actually convince your audience.

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BySilke Zwart

Why is British Parliamentary the best debate format?

There are many debate formats in the Netherlands. In this new series, debaters tell you why they think a certain debate format is the best. This time: British Parliamentary (BP). Do you want to read more about how British Parliamentary works? Click here.

My name is Silke Zwart and I am currently studying political science at the Radboud University in Nijmegen. About a year and a half ago I discovered Utrecht Debating Society. This year I can also take on the role of vice-chair of the association! In these eighteen months, I have experienced a lot of fun debates on many different topics. I’ve debated whether Cookie Monster should be on a diet, whether we should sacrifice our partner at the European Championships to an Aztec God, and whether we support lean-in feminism. Although these debates sometimes took place in the American Parliamentary (AP) format, since my membership I have developed a fondness for British Parliamentary (BP) debates. In this article, I’ll explain why this is the case!

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