Rappers & Rebuttals

Lee Hudson Teslik, Newsweek, Nov. 13, 2006

Forty Seattle teenagers gathered at the University of Washington this summer to practice for their high-school debate teams. Seminars included break-dancing and deejaying. Some counselors were local hip-hop artists. As camp wound down, the students showed off their progress, rhyming arguments and mixing in R&B tracks.

Hip-hop has come to high-school debate. Les Lynn, director of the National Association of Urban Debate Leagues, says a stylistic fusion came naturally as more inner-city schools got involved. Ten years ago, only three urban public high schools had competitive debate teams; now there are more than 300. Jen Johnson, who organized the Seattle camp, says hip-hop is definitely a draw.

{snip} Critics question, is this really debate? “In established debate circles, their main concern is to ensure that the rigor, the critical thinking, the analytical reasoning—that these are still there,” says Lynn. Often they are, he adds. “This isn’t an excuse simply to listen to music.”


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