PF Debate

I have modified the timeline to make it suitable for 6th graders.

A Public Forum Debate Style Modified for TDA Students (27 Minutes Total):

Speaker 1 (Team A, 1st speaker ): Constructive Speech 3 minutes
Speaker 2 (Team B, 1st speaker): Constructive Speech 3 minutes
Crossfire (between speakers 1 & 2) 2 minutes
Speaker 3 (Team A, 2nd speaker): Rebuttal 3 minutes
Speaker 4 (Team B, 2nd speaker): Rebuttal 3 minutes
Crossfire (between speakers 3 & 4) 2 minutes
Speaker 1: Summary 2 minutes
Speaker 2: Summary 2 minutes
Grand Crossfire (All four speakers) 3 minutes
Speaker 3: Final Focus/Last Shot 2 minutes
Speaker 4: Final Focus/Last Shot 2 minutes

Public Forum is a team debate event that advocates or rejects a position posed by the monthly resolution topic. The clash of ideas must be communicated in a manner persuasive to the non-specialist or “citizen judge”, i.e. a member of the American jury.

The debate should:

  • Display solid logic, lucid reasoning, and depth of analysis
  • Utilize evidence without being driven by it
  • Present a clash of ideas by countering/refuting arguments of the opposing team (rebuttal)
  • Communicate ideas with clarity, organization, eloquence, and professional decorum
  • The round starts with a coin toss; the winning team selects either:
  • The side (pro or con) they will argue
  • The speaker order (begin the debate or give the last speech).

The team that loses the toss will then decide their preference from the option not selected by the winner (i.e., if the winning team decides to speak last, then the losing team may decide which side they will argue). The debate, therefore may begin with the con side, arguing against the topic.

Each team may use up to two minutes of prep time.
The judge is the chairperson of the round (facilitating the coin flip and giving time signals if requested), and may halt any crossfire lacking civility. S/he may not interact in the crossfire.
Judges evaluate teams on the quality of the arguments actually made, not on their own personal beliefs, and not on issues they think a particular side should have covered. Judges should assess the bearing of each argument on the truth or falsehood of the assigned resolution. The pro should prove that the resolution is true, and the con should prove that the resolution in not true.

When deciding the round, judges should ask, “If I had no prior beliefs about this resolution, would the round as a whole have made me more likely to believe the resolution was true or not true?” Teams should strive to provide a straightforward perspective on the resolution; judges should discount unfair, obscure interpretations that only serve to confuse the opposing team. Plans (formalized, comprehensive proposals for implementation), counterplans and
kritiks (off-topic arguments) are not allowed. Generalized, practical solutions should support a position of advocacy.
Quality, well-explained arguments should trump a mere quantity thereof. Debaters should use quoted evidence to support their claims, and well-chosen, relevant evidence may strengthen – but not replace – arguments. Clear
communication is a major consideration. Judges weigh arguments only to the extent that they are clearly explained, and they will discount arguments that are too fast, too garbled, or too jargon-laden to be understood by an intelligent high school student or a well-informed citizen. A team should not be penalized for failing to understand his or her opponent’s unclear arguments. In short, Public Forum Debate stresses that speakers must appeal to the widest possible audience through sound reasoning, succinct organization, credible evidence, and clear delivery. Team points provide a mechanism for evaluating the relative “quality of debating” by each side.

Judging Public Forum Debate

Public Forum Debate is a team event that advocates or rejects a position posed by the resolution. A central tenet of the debate is that the clash of ideas must be communicated in a manner persuasive to the non-specialist or “citizen judge”, i.e. a member of the American jury. While Policy Debate focuses on a plan to solve the problem(s) posed by the resolution, and Lincoln Douglas Debate focuses on the core value of the resolution, Public Forum Debate focuses on advocacy of a position derived from issues presented in the resolution, not a prescribed set of burdens. In Public Forum Debate, a plan or counter plan is defined as a formalized, comprehensive proposal for implementation. Neither the pro or con side is permitted to offer a plan or counter plan; rather, they should offer reasoning to support a position of advocacy. Debaters may offer generalized, practical solutions.
New arguments in the “final focus” should be ignored. The “final focus” must be based on argument and issues previously addressed in the debate.
Logical reasoning, maturity of thought, and effectiveness of communication are of primary consideration. Evidence, examples, and analogies are to be used for the purpose of illustration.
The debate should:

  • display solid logic, reasoning, and analysis
  • utilize evidence but not be driven by it
  • present a clash of ideas
  • counter the arguments of the opponents (rebuttal)
  • communicate ideas with clarity, organization, eloquence, and professional decorum

In making a decision, a judge should be as objective as possible. Remember these are propositions upon which there may have strong feelings of which the debaters are unaware. Judges should adjudicate the round as it is debated, not as they personally feel.

Source: NJFL Tournament Manual 2011

Flow sheet download: