Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Resolutions can be good things

In 7th grade, my English teacher assigned our class to participate in a debate, “Resolved, that foreign aid is good.” Yes, I know, pretty basic for a debate topic, but we were 12-year-olds. The entire class was required to do research, and then the teacher selected none of us to participate in the debate – four to argue for the resolution, four to argue against, and one moderator. The judges would be the teachers, but the students would also be able to vote by applause.

I was selected for the affirmative side. Also assigned to our team was the guy known as the class smart-aleck, the one the teachers had the most disciplinary problems with. A lot of the kids believed we were doomed to lose because we had somehow gotten stuck with “Roy.” Not to mention the fact that the best-looking guy in the7th grade was assigned to the negative team, and he could make a lot of the teachers blush.

I did my individual research in the New Orleans city library and the Tulane University library. My father dropped me off at the university one Saturday, and somehow I found my way to the building and a helpful librarian. She pointed out that technically the library was supposed to be for only students and faculty but that she would make an exception for me. She smiled when she said that.

We practiced. We rehearsed. We held mock debates within the affirmative team, and threw all the arguments we could find against our position. And we began to see something in Roy that no one else had ever noticed. He was a smart-aleck, yes, but he was also smart. He was articulate

The debate was a big deal. We would be speaking in front of the entire 7th grade – some 200 kids, 10 teachers and a bunch of people from the administrative office. What really convinced us it was a big deal was that we had to wear coats and ties.

We had a strategy. I was captain of the affirmative side, and I was positioned as first affirmative – to lay out our major arguments in favor of the resolution. We assigned Roy as second affirmative rebuttal – the last one to speak in the debate. The class smart-aleck would have the last word. Now everyone knew we were doomed, because the teachers hated Roy.

We did well. We held our own. The negative side was no set of slouches, however, and they had prepared as well. But you could say the affirmative side had a slight lead going into the home stretch.

Roy stood up. With the booming voice that drove his teachers to threaten violence, he swooped in on the negative arguments like a giant hawk. And destroyed them. When he finished, the entire audience was on its feet, cheering. It was just like one of those movies except it really happened.

The affirmative side won. For the first time in his life, Roy was a hero. And it completely changed his life.

I don’t make New Year’s resolutions, but some kinds of resolutions are good things.

It’s the One Word Blog Carnival hosted by Peter Pollock, and the word for this carnival is “resolution.” To see more posts submitted, please visit Peter's site, Rediscovering the Church.


David Rupert said...

Glynn. I was in debate too. And taking opposing sides of any argument helped me hone my thinking and critical skills.

I was like Roy, able to sway the masses. But that's not so fun anymore.

I don't like to win arguments these days, but I do like to poke and prod and find ways to expand my world of thinking.

Patricia said...

I wonder what Roy ended up doing for a living? I love those affirming, life changing moments. Clarity is so powerful.

Louise Gallagher said...

Your story made my heart sing.

Beautifully told.

Kathleen Overby said...

Defining moments are good to remember.

Mama Zen said...

I'm cheering, too! I'm glad that Roy did well.

Lisa notes... said...

A beautiful story. So glad for Roy. If everyone can just find their niche, they can shine.

Anne Lang Bundy said...

Awsome story! I'm convinced that with the right direction, any kid's natural inclination can become a strength. Whether it's among my five homeschoolers or my Sunday school third & fourth graders, I make it a point to play to the gifts sometimes disguised as annoyances.

katdish said...

Yay for Roy! You may find this hard to believe, but I was also a smart aleck. (Shocking, I know.) The debate I was involved in was in a senior government class, and much like Roy, it was a defining moment for me, too. It was the moment I understood that people might actually consider taking me seriously, even if I was the class clown.

We box people into what we think they're capable of, or worse, what they're not capable of. So glad you were able not to do that, despite any reservations your team may have had.

Cris Ferreira said...

What a wonderful story, Glynn, thanks for sharing.
This show how important is the teacher not only in teaching academic contents but also in identifying each student's strenghts and encouraging them to develop them.
I don't know if your teacher chose Roy because she noticed something in him that gave her that clue, or out of pure luck, but I'm glad that Roy got to shine and change everyone's opinions about him.

Maureen said...

Great story. Be it resolved: Never underestimate the power of the one you least expect to deliver what's needed.

Anonymous said...

the opinion
of teachers
i a huge
i wonder

Karen Eck said...

This made me cry. I'm so glad you had the eyes to see the story and have the ability to retell it. May we all find the treasured mark of God's design in every person we encounter. Thanks.

Mari-Anna Frangén Stålnacke said...

Good for Roy! Good for you!
I also loved the librarian helping you out. Many of us book-lovers have our own silent heroes in libraries helping us to resolve things.
Beautiful story, thank you! Blessings!

Anonymous said...

This story makes me smile so much. :)

A Joyful Noise said...

Those who are the class clown and cut up, usually are smart as well as witty, Now if they can be pointed in the right direction there you have a potential business man, preacher, or politician. :-)