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217. Gathering material. Where to get material depends on the nature of the question to be debated. The first and most important lesson to be learned is that nothing but facts, accurately stated, are of any great value. What a debater himself thinks, or what anyone else thinks, matters very little unless the facts on which his opinion is based are known and stated, and the more facts, the better. Matters of local interest require local investigation—the local papers, addresses, interviews with persons directly connected with public affairs, public records, reports of officials, and the like. For example, if the debate is on the proposal to build a new schoolhouse, all the facts connected with the present school are important—the condition of the building, the number of pupils, the equipment, the effect of the school building and its equipment on the pupils' comfort, convenience, promotion, examinations, leaving school; a comparison of your school, its conditions and results, with other schools—some better, some worse; your school and its work as related to the educational policies of the state department; the cost of erecting and maintaining a new school as compared with the old, the tax-rate and the probable increase, possible methods of meeting the cost, the ability of the community to do it, the effect on the community of the old school and the possible effect of the new one; the opinion and advice of the state officials, of members of the board of education, of superintendent, principal, and teachers, of alumni, of former school officials,
of prominent citizens; possible alterations in the old building to correct present defects, and the comparative cost; other local matters of greater importance that need attention; e. g. water, sewers, fire protection.
218. Sources. Whenever first-hand information from original sources is available, it should be gathered; but in many propositions such information cannot be had. Then debaters must rely on reading for their material, and the usual books of reference—encyclopedias, books on the subject, magazines, congressional and other records, newspaper almanacs, reports of debates, newspapers, all must be searched for material. The debater should understand from the beginning that it is not important what view an article takes of the matter under discussion. It need not be in support of his side of the controversy; in fact, opposite opinion is of the greater value, in a way, for it indicates what the opponents will attempt to prove and thus helps you to meet their arguments. It shows you how opponents will meet your arguments and thus informs you as to which of your arguments they are most afraid, and it likewise shows the weak places in your argument. The debater who gets into a debate with only his own argument prepared is like a boxer attempting to spar with one hand, and just about as effective.
Some state and city libraries will collect and furnish material for debate subjects. Debaters should make use of such opportunities because of the time saved.
219. Things to avoid. The greatest detriment to the work of debate is the ready-made brief and argument. These should be kept out of libraries and away from young debaters, because at best they furnish only third-hand material and they deprive them of one of the greatest benefits of the debating—original investigation.
HANDLING MATERIAL 220. Briefing. The handiest way to record material is on small cards—one fact, with the source from which it came, on each card.
Need of New Building Ventilation
It is not possible to ventilate the building as it is, nor to install a suitable system of ventilation in it. Report of Engineer X. Y. Smith to Board of Education.
Letter, June 6, 1916.
221. Determining issues. When the reading is done and the cards filled out, they should be sorted so that all facts bearing on a topic are together. Part of these will be affirmative and part negative on the various divisions of the subject. Wherever there are several opposing items, there is a clash of opinion between the two sides, and the result is what is technically known as an issue. If the ground has been thoroughly covered there will be several such issues. For example, in
gathering material on the proposal to build a new schoolhouse, you will find that opinions and facts may differ as to the need of a new building; that, then, becomes an issue. Other issues may arise as to whether the community can afford it or not, whether the present time is the best in which to build, or whether other matters should first be attended to, and so on. Wherever material gathered shows divergent opinions, there is an issue.
222. Arranging material. After issues are determined, comes the arrangement of material in support of your side of each issue. Such an arrangement is made by taking the material from the cards and writing it in the form of an outline, or brief, on theme paper. The following method is simple and useful:
1. Statement of proposition.
2. Defining terms and restating proposition in terms of the definitions given.
3. Excluding all admitted or extraneous items.
4. Statement of issues resulting from clash of opinion.
(These may be omitted in the negative brief.) 5. Proof for affirmative.
a. First issue with its proof.
b. Second issue with its proof. And so on until all issues are covered.
223. The brief. Here is a simple and practical way of making the body of the brief:
AFFIRMATIVE PROOF A. There is need of a new schoolhouse (first issue).
Average size of classes is 32. Some are as large as 44
The laboratories are
Statement of former
The rooms used are old class rooms that were not originally
planned for laboratories
vidual tables, apparatus, cabinets, etc.
students and 20 tables, etc.
The heating facili
ties in the building are faulty, for
Statement of janitor
and of the principal
There are ten old hot-air furnaces. They take too much
time and coal. In two months last winter they burned
Took 120 tons. Steam would have taken but 75 tons
and some too cold. On days when wind is west rooms on