Cross-Exam, Part 2: Why Submit Questions in Advance?

A teacher asked this great Cross-Examination question:

Why do we have to post our questions the day before when we don’t know what the “holes” in the other team may be? Why can’t we have a team member, who is listening intently, come up with the questions as the debate is going on?

Here is the Rebuttal:

  1. Teams are asked to prepare the questions in advance to help reinforce their reasoning skills. Because they are preparing both sides of the debate, coming up with questions for each side helps them see the potential holes in their own arguments. The ability to predict what the “other” side may say or ask and then anticipate a viable response are crucial debate and literacy skills.
  2. Preparing questions in advance helps familiarize the students with the main arguments and counterclaims for each side as they learn to refer to or select the appropriate rebuttal for a specific question.
  3. Even though the teams are asked to prepare the questions in advance, they are always welcome to change them on the fly. Just let the moderator know to make the change. (In fact, this does happen regularly, but more often with the high school teams.) The prepared questions can be thought of as “back-up” questions. With all that is going on during a debate, however, and because of our time constraints, it is important to have some questions that are ready-to-go.

And that is why preparing for and practicing the questions in advance strengthens students’ debating skills!

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