Introduction to Speech and Debate

Public Speaking

We all hope our children are confident leaders when they go off on their own. No other activity helps ensure such a launch than speech and debate. (Picture taken at the Centennial Tournament in 2011)

I still have quite a few Jeub’s Guide to Homeschool Speech & Debate. If you have even a small inking to participate in speech and debate throughout your child’s homeschool career, this book is for you. Pick it up while they’re free.

Maybe you’re not quite convinced that homeschool speech and debate is for you. If that’s the case, here’s the introduction to the book. Read it. I think you’ll be convinced that you really should be doing this:

It has been 20 years since my wife and I started homeschooling, and 10 years since I started writing editions of Jeub’s Guide to Homeschool Speech & Debate. This book is the flagship publication for everything surrounding 1 Peter 1:13, the key verse to the ministry I run. “Train the mind for action,” it reads (sic.), a mandate to Christians to prepare for the good work God calls His people. It lends to quite a vision I would like to share with you, but it will take a step back into the last couple of decades for you to fully understand.

In 1992 I was a public school teacher homeschooling my own children. (Talk about a values clash!) If I were to explain my own teaching pedagogy—the reason I cared so much about the education of young people—it would probably have been this:

I want young people to harness proper thinking skills on which they can ride into adulthood as godly leaders, parents, pastors and teachers.

This is why I gravitated so easily toward speech and debate, and for the most part, homeschooling. The Good Lord pushed me along a bit by making sure my first teaching job included the position of debate coach. I can’t begin to tell you how quickly I realized that debate—and later speech—had built into it all the leadership skills I desired to teach young people. I remember observing my first debate round, jaw dropped to the ground, barely able to comprehend what these 14- to 16-year-old kids were jabbering about. I was struggling to keep up with these little geniuses.

And they weren’t necessarily “gifted and talented”; they were just regular kids who participated in the activity of speech and debate. They were brilliant because of the activity, not in the activity because they were brilliant.

Naturally, when the Home School Legal Defense Association started its own debate league in 1996, I jumped on board. But though the activity had the full support of the HSLDA, it was difficult to show kids how to participate. In the organization’s second year, I wrote what is now popularly known as Blue Book. Consisting of 50 pieces of evidence and a handful of theory articles, I sold copies to eager parents across the country. The money I made from the writing project helped finance my travels across my home state to start debate clubs and qualify teams to nationals.

In 2000 I brought my entire family to the last HSLDA debate tournament at Point Loma Nazarene University in California, the birthplace of the National Christian Forensics and Communications Association. My eldest daughter (then 16 years old) had qualified in original oratory. The tournament was much larger than the first tournament, and the excitement for cultivating forensics competition in our homeschool students was high.

Clearly, homeschoolers had something going here, and after receiving pointed advice from ministry friends, I started Training Minds Ministry. It made sense to create a nonprofit organization that “trained minds for action.” I had been using 1 Peter 1:13 as the verse that justified to parents why speech and debate was worth pursuing. And the organization allowed other like-minded educators to jump into the action (like Vance Trefethen, who has been co-authoring Blue Book with me since 2001). We do anything our budget allows: run camps, teach classes, develop lessons and online communities. We can’t get enough of coaching speech and debate!

Today, my life is totally wrapped up in speech and debate. Training Minds Ministry hires the finest coaches for its camps and classes. Its sister publishing company, Monument Publishing, contracts with dozens of the best competitors and coaches to pump out curriculum, sourcebooks, textbooks, online resources and supplies to assist students and coaches in preparing for competition. I do this full time, traveling across the country from tournament to tournament—usually with a team of Jeubs or kids from my club in Monument (called “Monumentum”)—selling books along the way and promoting our camps and programs.

There are so many opportunities for homeschoolers today that stem from speech and debate. Students who pour themselves into this activity end up the smartest, most trained leaders and communicators; as I said, it is inherently in the activity itself. More so (or because of it), speech and debate students end up with scholarships, high-paying jobs, entrepreneurial vision, and opportunities unparalleled with their status quo counterparts.

Most people assume I debated as a young person, but allow me to share with you a secret of my past: I never debated in high school. I do remember—to my shame—being invited to join the debate club. But I was “too cool” to be on the debate team. What a significant regret that has become in my life. Today I write curriculum for debaters, so you can imagine how much better I would be at what I do if I had the firsthand experience of competition. (This is why I hire people like Vance to do the hard work of brief writing. He’s reliving his glory years, as he was a debater in the 1980s.)

My pedagogy hasn’t changed much over the years. I want to “train minds for action” more than ever. But I’m following up my pedagogy with a call to action. It’s a resolution for the homeschool student, and it isn’t impossible to accomplish. Here goes:

Resolved: Every homeschool student in the United States should do speech and debate.

That’s right, all 2 million of them. Can you imagine a few hundred thousand homeschool graduates every year—empowered with the leadership and speaking skills taught in this “uncool” activity—infiltrating colleges, seminaries, businesses and entrepreneurial markets? That gives me shivers up my spine! If anything ought to be called “cool,” that is.

I’ll be doing this for another 20 years. It’s in my blood, written all over my heart. Besides, my wife and I had our 16th child in April this year. Trust me, I’ll be doing tournaments for many years to come, likely with a half-dozen Jeubs on the roster. Training Minds Ministry and Monument Publishing will continue to flesh out new camps, programs and resources to help make speech and debate an easier venture for other homeschool families.

And one final thought: If you are one of those 2 million who are just starting, this book is especially for you. You’re just getting to know the community you will be participating in—the materials, the vocabulary, the rules. It’ll be overwhelming at first, but hang in there. Your kids can make it through and they will shine brighter than you ever dreamed possible. Remember, it’s inherent in the activity.

Enjoy the journey, and see you at some tournaments!

Now, go order Jeub’s Guide to Homeschool Speech & Debate, and read the rest of my book. It shows you the ins and outs of how to do this most awesome activity. You don’t want to miss out. And the Jeub family will see you at tournaments!

About Chris Jeub

Chris is the father of 16 children, busily running the family businesses and learning the depths of love along the way.

  • JenB

    I have just learned about your book via Andrew Pudewa, whom I came upon by accident. I am very excited! I am not sure what link will allow me to get your book though – none of the links in this article work. Thanks for your help! ~Jen

    • http://www.chrisjeub.com/ Chris Jeub

      Hi JenB. It’s great to hear of your excitement. This article is nearly four years old, and we’ve come out with a newer edition since then. See http://www.monumentpublishing.com/guide. Thanks!