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Judging Yourself: Writing Personal RFDs

Updated: Aug 26, 2022

RFD (Reason for Decision): a judge's explanation for why they voted for a certain team

There are many ways to improve your debating skills, but this is a particularly effective and efficient strategy: writing personal RFDs.


After a debate round, spend around fifteen minutes deciding who you honestly believe won the round (you may choose yourself or the opposing team) and writing up a detailed, specific explanation as to why.


This is an excellent way to evaluate your performance and note what you could improve on the next time.

 

Example:

Resolution: The climate is a higher priority than the economy.

"As side government, we believe that the opposition team has won. Both sides made valid arguments about why each individual issue (the climate and the economy) are pressing matters that must be solved.


In fact, both the gov and the opp went a step further and proved that the two values encompass each other. The gov argued that the climate negatively impacts the economy by increasing rates of poverty.


Inversely, the opp argued that the government is in no position to combat the inevitable effects of climate change with a stable, reliable economy, for the following two reasons. One, the government needs the resources provided by a stable economy to combat the effects of climate change. Two, a poor economy will only lead to a poorer environment, as poverty results in increased emissions (i.e. in Brazil, poorer farmers burn down the Amazon rainforest out of desperation).


These two competing stances–that one needs a good climate for a good economy and vice-versa–were the arguments that ended the round.


Thus, side gov votes for the opposition team off presumption. The gov would have had to indicate that there was a sense of urgency to address the climate directly now, as opposed to in the future after addressing the economy. After all, if all else fails, economic impacts are reversible. The same cannot be said of the climate."

 

It can be especially helpful if both teams write their own RFDs, in addition to the judge. Then, the gov reads aloud their RFD, followed by the opp, and finally the judge.


Try this out the next time you debate!

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