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Gifted Tongues : High School Debate and Adolescent Culture - Gary Alan Fine

Gifted Tongues

High School Debate and Adolescent Culture

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Learning to argue and persuade in a highly competitive environment is only one aspect of life on a high-school debate team. Teenage debaters also participate in a distinct cultural world--complete with its own jargon and status system--in which they must negotiate complicated relationships with teammates, competitors, coaches, and parents as well as classmates outside the debating circuit. In Gifted Tongues, Gary Alan Fine offers a rich description of this world as a testing ground for both intellectual and emotional development, while seeking to understand adolescents as social actors. Considering the benefits and drawbacks of the debating experience, he also recommends ways of reshaping programs so that more high schools can use them to boost academic performance and foster specific skills in citizenship.

Fine analyzes the training of debaters in rapid-fire speech, rules of logical argumentation, and the strategic use of evidence, and how this training instills the core values of such American institutions as law and politics. Debates, however, sometimes veer quickly from fine displays of logic to acts of immaturity--a reflection of the tensions experienced by young people learning to think as adults. Fine contributes to our understanding of teenage years by encouraging us not to view them as a distinct stage of development but rather a time in which young people draw from a toolkit of both childlike and adult behaviors. A well-designed debate program, he concludes, nurtures the intellect while providing a setting in which teens learn to make better behavioral choices, ones that will shape relationships in their personal, professional, and civic lives.

"An illuminating and considered look into the world of competitive high school policy debate that reveal--all at once--the good, the bad, the peculiar, the ugly, and the truly remarkable about high school debate."--Timothy M. O'Donnell, Argumentation and Advocacy

Preface ix
Introduction 3
One: Learning to Talk 19
Two: Rites of Arguments 38
Three: Evidence and the Creation of Truth 67
Four: In the Round 97
Five: Our Team 133
Six: Debate Culture 162
Seven: Teachers and Coaches 190
Eight: Gifted Leisure and the Politics of Debate 217
Nine: Debate and the Adolescent Toolkit 241
Appendix: Communities of Debate 252
Notes 271
Glossary 297
Index 299

ISBN: 9781400824199
ISBN-10: 1400824192
Series: Princeton Studies in Cultural Sociology
Audience: Tertiary; University or College
Format: ePUB
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 328
Published: 1st July 2010