7-2 | Competitive Speech and Debate


Competitive Speech and Debate
How Play Influenced American Educational Practice

Michael D. Bartanen and Robert S. Littlefield


The authors identify competitive speech and debate as a form of play that helped democratize American citizenship for the poor, who used what they learned through the practice to advance their personal social and economic goals. In addition, this competitive activity led to the development of speech communication as an academic discipline and legitimized the pedagogy of game theory. Through a brief overview of the evolution of competitive forensics, an overview of the theory of play and its role in personal development and interpersonal and group interaction, and an explanation of the theory of forensics as a form of playfulness, the authors show the impact of forensics on the course of educational practices in America. Key words: debate as play; competitive forensics; game theory