Resources for Students

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Understanding Models

Models are an explanation of how the resolution works that is stated in the first minute of the debate by the first proposition speaker. Depending on the motion, models can be highly specific, requiring a lot of detail; other times you might not even need a model at all. 

A model creates a playpen for the debate to work within. The goal of this playpen is to take out uninteresting or farfetched arguments, while still keeping it as fair as possible for both sides. Models don’t have a formula to follow because they are catered specifically to a resolution. Here are some tips to creating a model. 

Determine if a model is needed

Broadly speaking, there are two kinds of motions:

  1. Policy motions- are a type of debate in which an action is specifically stated. For example, THW make voting mandatory. In order to have a good debate, prop needs to define how exactly this would happen. If prop doesn’t, the debate becomes muddy due to how broad and uncertain the change is. Policy motions vary in the degree of model needed from a small level of detail to an extremely detailed model. 
  2. Values motions- don’t have an action attached to them, for example THBT advertising does more harm than good. In this motion you do not need a model, although clarity is still needed in the round. 

Motions can be a combination of these types of debate. The best way to determine when a model is needed is to ask yourself a few questions:

  • What would happen if this motion were actually going to take place?
  • If I was on opp what arguments would I make?
  • If the motion requires an action, what would that action look like?

Determining what goes in the model

Once you have figured out that you do in fact need a model, it’s time to figure out what goes in it. If you sensed that a motion needs a model, ask yourself why? The questions above should also help you find some of the areas in the motion that need modelling. If you are still stuck, try using the actors wheel to figure out who is being impacted, maybe some of those people are uniquely impacted by the motion causing the need for a model. 

Double-check your work

It’s very important for every proposition team to have a solid understanding of the motion. When creating a model or a case stance, you want to ensure you have a solid understanding of the motion. When you and your partner getup to speak you want a consistent understanding of your model to avoid contradicting one another. Use these questions to help ensure your model and case stance are solid. 

  • Does the model actually address the problem the motion is talking about?
  • Does the model describe who is in charge? Is that the best person?
  • Does the model have any side effects?
  • Does the model address the most important issue in the round?

These questions are good for opposition as well. Model critiques can be very effective as refutation. Look for flaws in proposition's case by asking these questions about the model. These kinds of critiques are far more effective than asking questions about how much it would cost, or how specifically would the model be carried out. 

How can I practice at home?

Find a list of debate motions that fit your level of debate. These can be your own collection, SEDA's archived motions, or a motion collection website like hello motion (these are best suited for advanced practice). When first beginning to practice give yourself 15-20 minutes with the goal of working down to roughly 5 minutes. More complicated models on more difficult motions will take longer to make. Pick a motion and go through the process of developing a model as described above:

  1. Do you need a model? (What kind of motion is it?)
  2. What should go into the model?
    1. What are the problems in the world that need fixing? How should that happen?
    2. Where in the world is this taking place? Who is this house?
    3. Who should be incharge of making things happen?
  3. Double check your model against the questions above^ (ex. Does the model actually address the problem?)


Kids Practice Models and Definitions

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