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Starting the Whole Heart Debate Club
(by Kristy Lindvall)

Chapter 1 - The Dawn of Vision

When our oldest was 12 or 13 I was interested in debate. He was sort of interested. We looked around the area to see if anyone was doing debate, and didn't find anything available in the homeschool community in our area. I purchased the video and book "An Introduction to Argumentation and Debate" by Christy Shipe, thinking that someday we might get enough kids interested to make a go of it.

Then several more years went by. Our kids were getting into middle and high school, and I decided to throw the question out again and see if any other students might be interested.

Our family is part of a 4-H group made up of local homeschooling families that has been meeting for about 5 years. We meet once a month, and offer an array of electives for the kids to choose from each year, generally by whatever parents could be found that were willing to share a skill with the kids over the year. I thought, "Perfect! Here's my opportunity to do debate!". So I volunteered to teach a class on debate as my contribution to our 4-H group this year.

Some of our kids have done Toastmasters public speaking as part of 4-H, and some others have done livestock judging where giving oral reasons was part of their training. So we had some students familiar with public speaking, and the concept of backing up their statement with reasons. Combined with their Moms who encouraged their kids to try debate, we had a group of 14 students sign up for the debate class.

So there I was, interested and with lots of enthusiasm, but knowing nothing about debate other than what I'd learned by watching the video and reading Christy Shipe's book. I had heard of a group doing debate through OCEANetwork, and seemed to remember they were in Salem. So I contacted the editors of the Salem area homeschool newsletter, and they put me in touch with Ray and Denise Engel.