Saturday, April 14, 2007


My mind is so full tonight.

Triss and I are working hard to finish her constructive cases for debate on Monday, and we have bitten off more than we can chew. We could use at least another week (or a few). I really dislike missing a deadline, but I am not sure we are going to make it. This way of researching and writing, and indeed the entire research topic, is very new to Triss, and the only way she is keeping her head above water is because of the reading of good literature she has done over the last few years. The majority of her proofs are literary allusions. I am helping her find quotes from authorities in the field. What is the field? Homeschooling. The resolution is:

Resolved: Socialization should take precedence over academic achievement for homeschooled students.

She has to defend the affirmative position, and then the negative position. Somehow we agreed for her to debate both sides (in two separate debates, lol) on Monday. We are suckers for punishment. Thankfully, she has a partner for the negative case. But they are each writing their own case and then deciding which one to use.

The thought processes required for this kind of composition are almost beyond what Triss is capable of. I have been very excited about Lincoln Douglas Values Debate because establishing solid principles that apply to life is a big goal we have for our kids, and it is time for Triss to begin thinking analytically about them. But she is only on the edge of beginning that process, and as we have worked (and worked and worked) on the writing of these cases, it has become more and more obvious to me that LD debate is probably too much pressure for her at this time. As a result, I have been connecting the dots for her occasionally, rather than simply presenting the material and discussing it with her. (I'm doing that, too.) The process tends to go like this:

1. I pre-research the topic, finding things I want her to read about it, to give her a starting place.
2. She reads those things and writes about them (with a time limit).
3. We discuss what she has read and brainstorm, doing more research as needed.
4. I have her write about what we talked about (with a time limit).
5. I show her some good places to research online, and give her a specific sub-topic to research (with a time limit).
6. I read what she has written and offer my critique. We discuss it and she changes the things she thinks should be changed.
7. Then we start over. She has spent about an hour each day on this, sometimes two.

We have determined values, criteria, and contentions, very slowly, in this way.

But I am thankful that we both are having this experience. It is opening Triss' eyes to the idea that there is more than one side to a question; we have had lots of great conversations about homeschooling and what is important in life and education; and the process has enhanced my ideas for schoolwork in the years ahead.

I do wish we had another couple of weeks, though.

Update 4/15: We managed to finish both of her constructive cases. Yes! Now on to the actual debates tomorrow. Mariel is about ready to present her speech for tomorrow's tournament as well.

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