Two of our children flew to Orange County this week to participate in the country’s largest homeschool speech and debate tournament, the Concordia Challenge. It is hosted by a friend of mine, coach extrodinaire Konrad Hack, forensics coach and teacher on the Concordia College staff.
He wrote the foreword to my book, Jeub’s Guide to Homeschool Speech and Debate, which is pasted below. This short but packed book explains how easy it is to jump into this activity with your children. After reading it, I have a few calls to action that you will certainly be interested in.
By Konrad Hack
Director of Forensics, Concordia University Irvine
If you are interested in giving your child THE VERY BEST preparation, both for the world of work and serving Christ and His church, then this book is for you.
Jeub’s Guide to Homeschool Speech and Debate will help you discover the life-changing activity of forensics competition, referred to here as “Speech and Debate.” Chris Jeub has masterfully produced this book that introduces you to the world of speech and debate competition. You will be introduced to a host of resources, including information about where you can compete, the kinds of events offered, tournament structure and best practices, and even advanced techniques. As you read this text, you will discover why so many of Mr. Jeub’s students do so well in national-level competition.
Having just completed my fifteenth year of collegiate-level speech and debate coaching, I can attest firsthand to the life-changing power of this activity. Like Mr. Jeub, I have also been fortunate enough to coach national champions. These opportunities were certainly gratifying. More importantly, I have seen numerous shy, inarticulate, timid boys, girls, and college students blossom into articulate and intelligent speakers and debaters. Their academic performance improves, they are more socially and emotionally aware, and they become change agents in a world that desperately cries out for leadership. This activity changes lives, and Jeub’s Guide to Homeschool Speech and Debate teaches you how it’s done.
I firmly believe that no other activity compares in preparing students for success. So much so that I suggest the following:
If your son or daughter is not involved in competitive speech and debate, I respectfully submit that, as a parent, you are not providing your child with the best preparation for their lives.
Yes, that’s a strong claim, but I’ve got some proof to back that up. I’m a teacher of argument, right? Please allow me a couple more pages to present two propositions for your consideration.
Proposition #1: Students MUST Develop Communication and Thinking Skills
You know the world we live in. Employers prize communication skills more than any other skill.
Two significant studies of managers and company CEOs both found that the skill employers most wanted was the ability to communicate orally. Followed closely behind in both reports is the ability to think critically. In fact, the 21st Century Skills Report puts it this way: “Professionalism/Work Ethic, Teamwork/Collaboration and Oral Communications are rated as the three ‘most important’ applied skills needed by entrants into today’s workforce.”
Proposition #2: Forensics Competition Develops Communication and Thinking Skills
Compared to their non-participating counterparts, speech and debate students demonstrate a number of gains. Again, the scholarly research supports this.
Forensics students show superior communication skills (Colbert & Biggers, 1985), writing and organizational skills (Matlon & Keele, 1984), critical thinking skills , research skills (Hunt, 1994), knowledge of the world (Shroeder & Shroeder, 1995) and leadership ability. In fact, forensics competition accounts for a 44 percent increase in critical thinking ability (Allen, Berkowitz & Louden, 1995).
These studies are revealing, but any layman can recognize the value of forensics in our history. Many, many prominent leaders had their beginning with forensics competition, including eight United States Presidents in the 20th century (Carter, Clinton, Johnson, Kennedy, Nixon, Roosevelt [FDR & Theodore] and Wilson). Forensics competitors spread throughout our government: chamber speakers (e.g. Tom Foley), Secretaries of State (e.g. Hillary Clinton), generals and admirals, First Ladies, and numerous federal judges. According to one source, over 80 percent of congressional members in the early 1980’s were former forensics competitors (Swanson, 1983). In the private sector, CEOs of major corporations and hundreds of prominent lawyers (Parcher, 1998) all took their forensics opportunities seriously in their preparatory education.
This data is compelling, but I believe that the most compelling reason to train students with speech and debate competition is to fill a need, that of genuine biblical leadership. Both our Lord Jesus Christ and the Apostle Paul knew the truth and were able to communicate that truth to the lost and dying world of their time. Specifically in Acts 17, the Apostle Luke tells us,
“And Paul went in, as was his custom, and on three Sabbath days he reasoned with them from the scriptures, explaining and proving that it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead…” (ESV, v 2-3).
Notice the importance of the skills learned in forensics: reasoning, proving and explaining. These skills are needed more than ever in OUR lost and dying world.
Parents, I implore you to give your children the tools they need to communicate with our world. Jeub’s Guide to Homeschool Speech and Debate will help you with that journey. Students, scour this text to learn about the various events that are offered in speech and debate leagues across the nation that will give you the skills to speak truth into darkness.
The exciting part is this: there are thousands of other homeschool families who have decided to jump in and give their children the best. I am glad you’ve decided to join them. Your journey down that road begins with the book in your hands.
May God richly bless you as you become equipped to serve Him in His Kingdom.
I sure love Konrad’s enthusiasm! He’s one of the most popular coaches in the nation who, like me, can’t help but try to convince others to get involved. We really believe this stuff! And Konrad is helping me run the national tournament in June. I’m the Superintendent for this event where approximately 500 homeschool families will descend on Colorado Springs for a week of competition and festivities. The National Invitational Tournament of Champions (NITOC) is going to be awesome!
Are you convinced? Because if you are (or if you are at least intersted), I want to take some action. You may be wondering what to do next. Wonder no longer:
- You can purchase my book for 1/2 price today. Use the coupon code “thinkspring” and this $19.95 book will drop to $9.97. In fact, this coupon code is good for anything in Monument Publishing’s store, a code that was sent out to all its customers as a clearance sale this month.
- Sign up to judge for the tournament Lydia and Micah are at this weekend. I’m serious! Tournaments can’t happen without volunteer adults (college students welcome!) to fill out ballots for the students. If you are in the Irvine, California, area:
- Visit the Concordia Challenge website
- Click on “Judges” at the top of the page
- Fill in your information, plus mention the Jeubs as referrers when prompted
- Come to NITOC! This is the national tournament Konrad and I are heading up. If you are going to be in Colorado Springs June 4-8, bring the whole family to Focus on the Family for a week of competition. The community of speakers and debaters is absolutely amazing. It will be a trip worth having.
- Sign up for Training Minds Camp. My family’s ministry runs camps that “trains minds for action” (1 Peter 1:13 sic.). We committed to three camps this summer. See www.trainingminds.org for complete information.
- Friend the Training Minds Facebook. My coaches just started this Facebook page, and we hope to have it grow to be a major source for speech and debate information. This will keep you in the loop to all things speech and debate.
Konrad’s words should persuade you, and I hope my enthusiasm helps push you along, too. Check out our Speech & Debate Category of articles, some with videos and other tidbits about this very best preparation for your kids.