About Debate Resource

A website by Ben Silvian

Let me let you in on a little secret...

There are three phases to a competitive debater's career: Novice, Varsity, and Withdrawal. I know because I've experienced all three...

New Pro Pic 2022.jpeg

Three Phases of a Debate Career

Phase One: Novice. You're intrigued. You just learned about this new activity and you immediately see the potential it has to affect your life. An entire community of students, smart and committed like you, looking for a way to explore their intellectual side while competing nationwide to see who can be the best at this high-stakes game. You know you have the intelligence and strength to succeed, but you're intimidated; so many others are so much better than you already; they speak in this odd jargon, talking about "cards," "cases," "indicts," even "frontlines." The barriers look insurmountable, but that won't stop you from trying.

Phase Two: Varsity. You're hooked. You've spent at least a year debating, have gotten good enough to win some big rounds at the local or national level. You were up all night last night looking for the perfect card - the perfect evidence to solidify your argument and are running on adrenaline and coffee. You've got schoolwork to do but it doesn't feel to important at the moment since a tournament is coming up - arguments run through your head all day long. But at every tournament, 99% of teams (all but 1, of course) end the tournament with a loss. Your taste of success keeps you going, but you're never fully satisfied.

Phase Three: Withdrawal. Good news: you graduated high school! Bad news: debate's over. You can't get the nagging question out of your head: will I ever find another community with this amount of rigor, passion, and intellect again? You search for other activities and communities in college that might offer something similar - maybe even stay involved by coaching and judging the students you used to compete with. But in the end, you want to cash in. How can take those hundreds to thousands of hours of focused, strong work and turn it into something lasting?

Why This Site Exists

Most existing debate resources are geared toward those of us in Phase Two. These are coaching services, briefs, and camps. They can be pricy with respect to both time and money, but they have a good purpose and are good for people who have connections or can pay. I attended debate camp and coached at debate camps, but this problem of exclusivity is tough to overcome.

This Debate Resource website is currently designed to help those of us in Phase One. It offers a foundation upon which to build your skills: 10 Robust Lessons in the form of articles on the Free Online Curriculum page, and 10 Proven Cases which can be found on the About page. Hopefully, the experience and skills I've gained will also prove helpful for Phase Two Varsity Debaters - and why not check them out, they're free!  

At the same time, this site is an experiment. What I'd really like to do is test a new path and attempt to help the community through phase three.

 

After graduating from Newton South High School in 2016, I continued to coach my high school team despite knowing they weren't in a position where they could pay me. I did some paid tutoring on the side and dabbled with teaching at camp. Both were rewarding, but I couldn't help thinking there could be something more to gain from all that work I put in - a way to monetize my skills that offered lasting fulfillment without the serious commitment and responsibility that accompanies being a paid coach. Fortunately, after graduating college, I stumbled upon the world of online business.

I believe every student who has experienced competitive debate has a unique and valuable skillset, and an unbreakable connection (due to a shared trauma, you could say). Growing up in the 21st century, largely due to Google and the rise of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) means we have the chance to explore new pathways. On this site, I'll test out monetization strategies like Print-On-Demand and Affiliate Marketing and EBooks, keeping costs to the consumer minimal while hopefully driving a lot of value. If this project has any success, I aim develop guides to spreading the power of debate-based education, building a lasting online community, and monetizing the hours and hours of work you put in, and deserve to get something out of.

Thanks for checking out my site and I hope the resources I provide can be helpful. If you find this content helpful or have any thoughts and feedback you can offer, I'd love for you to stay engaged by commenting on posts and signing up for the Debate Resource mailing list by entering your email in the box in the footer (bottom right of the page).

Alternatively, reach out! You can reach me at ben@debateresource.com.

All the best,

Ben Silvian

NSHS '16

TOC Champion Coach '18