Teaching Tools

Judging Conundrums

Create a number of difficult scenarios which a judge might face, and have groups of judges discuss what they would do, either in small groups or all-together. Two example ‘conundrums’ follow:

-The affirmative’s criterion is individualism, and the negative’s criterion is rule of law. Both sides have given reasons why their criterion is good, but the debaters have not compared either criteria to the other. According to affirmative’s criterion, affirmative wins, according to negative’s criterion, negative wins. Which criterion would you use?
-The affirmative is using a historical example to make their point. Based on your own knowledge, you realize that affirmative has their facts wrong. Negative, unfortunately, never realizes this and makes inadequate answers to this historical example. Do you accept affirmative’s use of the example?

It is not necessary for the situations to have one correct answer. The point is to start a discussion of different perspectives and to discover that some considerations (like not inserting one’s own arguments into a debate) are basic matters of fairness while others (like how one resolves an issue when the debaters don’t clash over it themselves) will depend upon the judge’s own style and will understandably vary from judge to judge.