Teaching Tools

Refutation and Impact Back

Refutation Ball:

Method: The teacher, with a soft ball in hand, presents a generic argument and then tosses the ball to a student. That student must present a refuting argument and then toss the ball to another student, who also presents a refutation. The process continues until all reasonable lines of refutation have been presented. Bonus points are awarded to students who present offensive refutations. After concluding the refutation, the teacher can lead a discussion about which responses were most persuasive and why.

Sample Initial Argument: “Government policy to curb carbon emissions will spark innovation in the private sector. Businesses will see a flurry of investment in new green technologies, and jobs will be created in new green industries. Therefore, implementation of a cap and trade system to limit carbon emission will improve the economy.”

Sample Refutations: 1) Cap and trade won’t encourage new investment because businesses will be worried about more stringent regulations in the future. 2) Cap and trade will distort the market and lead to investment in inefficient technologies. 3) Cap and trade will hurt the economy in the short term by raising the price of electricity. 4) Cap and trade will cost the economy jobs by shutting down high-pollution industries.

Impact Ball:

Method: The teacher begins by presenting a simple argument. The teacher then tosses a ball to a student, and that student must present an impact to the argument. The student then tosses the ball to a peer, who presents another impact, and so on.

Sample Initial Argument: Requiring school uniforms is a good idea because it will prevent intruders from coming onto school grounds, since authorities will be able to identify who is and is not a student.

Sample Impacts: 1) Students and teachers will feel safer at school, so they’ll be able to focus more on their studies. 2) If students can focus more on their studies, they will perform better and have a greater chance of going to college. 3) If more students go to college, they will help the national economy and decrease poverty in the world. 4) There will be a lower risk of gang violence, since gang members will be less likely to come on school grounds. 5) Gangs will have less ability to recruit members, which means there will be less violence in the streets, too.