Competitive debate veteran and veteran debate coach James Fishback joins Tim to talk about free speech, and at times the lack of certain kinds of debate in high school debate. James founded an organization called Incubate Debate in 2019 after serving as a volunteer debate coach in Miami-Dade county for two-years. Prior to that, he competed in high school debate for four-years in Broward County.
James Fishback started Incubate Debate, with the goal of making debate accessible to students of all socioeconomic backgrounds and political beliefs. Over the past four years, James says Incubate Debate has helped thousands of students from all over Florida through its tournaments, workshops, and camps, all at no cost.
But what caught our attention was some publicity James received when he spoke out on the issue of free speech and high school debate.
According to James, there are some points you’re just not allowed to make as a high school debater. But before we get into that, I wanted to find out more about James’ own experience with high school debate and how it’s supposed to be.
- Incubate Debate
- At High School Debates, Debate is No Longer Allowed, The Free Press
- National Speech and Debate Association (NSDA)
- NSDA Statement on Its Policies (Link to Google Docs)
About this Episode’s Guest James Fishback
James Fishback founded Incubate Debate in 2019 after serving as a volunteer debate coach in Miami-Dade county for two-years and competing in high school debate for four-years in Broward County.
Both were incredible and eye-opening experiences, but ones in which he recognized tremendous issues that prevented many students from participating in and reaping the benefits of debate.
In 2019, he started Incubate Debate, with the goal of making debate accessible to students of all socioeconomic backgrounds and political beliefs. Over the past four years, Incubate has welcomed thousands of students from all over Florida to its tournaments, workshops, and camps, all at no cost.
Incubate is built on the principle of making debate easy to learn, hard to master. Through our proprietary debate formats (TownHall, Roundtable, Tribunal), Incubate is easy to learn: students get a basic understanding of the rules and processes fast, but it is hard to master because it demands a high level of skill, knowledge, and practice to be successful.
Mastering Incubate’s challenging, yet accessible style of debate requires dedication and a willingness to continually strive for improvement.
The following is the Editor’s Note from The Free Press Article mentioned in the episode and linked-to above:
“One day after this story published, the NSDA released a statement on Twitter, stating in part: ‘Our judge training materials in partnership with the National Federation of State High School Associations provide best practices for adjudicating speech and debate, such as “Judges should decide the round as it is debated, not based on their personal beliefs.”…Tabroom.com is a project of the National Speech & Debate Association, and its purpose is to provide a tournament management system for debate and speech tournaments worldwide. The 47,000 judge paradigms housed therein represent the opinions and viewpoints of the individual paradigm authors. Schools or other organizations that use Tabroom.com to hire judges are free to evaluate those paradigms before engaging their services.'”