Posted on November 7, 2006

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.”