New Curriculum Discussion with IEW
This blog entry by Teresa Hudson may also be found on IEW’s website.
As I have been listening to the sea of words swirling around the topic of the election over the past few months, both in person and via the internet, I am reminded of the incomparable value of teaching our children to think well, and then graciously articulate those thoughts in a way that will have a positive impact on others. The friends, family, and co-workers that we know — and the politicians, bloggers, commentators, and journalists that we don’t know — have sought to sway our opinions with their rhetoric, and many times that rhetoric has been questionable, at best. Listening to the cacophony of misinformation, illogical thought, and passionate (but inaccurate) diatribe has caused me once again to be grateful for the skills my children and so many others are learning through the National Christian Forensics and Communications Association (NCFCA).
When I first got involved in NCFCA I didn’t fully understand the importance of actually teaching my children communication skills. Sure, I knew that it was important to pursue an excellent education, but I didn’t think about the fact that a wonderful education does no good if a child is not equipped with the skills necessary to share what he knows with others in a winsome way. By involving my children in NCFCA competition, they began the process of figuring out how to craft an effective message, develop their delivery, and learn to gauge whether or not the listener is perceiving their message. They learned how to organize and then articulate their thoughts in a way that made an impression on their audience. They learned the importance, power, and impact of the spoken word. And I began to understand the true value of excellent communication skills.
NCFCA is an organization that is committed to teaching young people how to first think critically, researching and pursuing truth before weighing that information in an effort to make a reasonable determination of the proper and logical position. Then, NCFCA gives opportunity for those same young people to take a stand for that position, communicating their stance in such a way that the listener is drawn to their gracious and articulate presentation. Truly that is the approach that will be most effective in drawing others to the truth, and have the most impact on our culture.
NCFCA offers students a chance to practice speaking and debating through competition. As an organization, we are dedicated to training high school students to address life issues from a biblical worldview in a manner that glorifies God. Ultimately, this training prepares our students to impact others for Christ by providing a fertile practice ground and an opportunity for the speaker to receive feedback critical to his development. Over the past few years, it has become apparent that to be highly effective in both the competition arena (the practice field) and in real-life situations, a student needs great training and instruction via the educational arena (the living room, classroom, or club meeting) first. Our students need guidance as they work to prepare their presentations. Out of that realization came the drive to produce a curriculum that would focus on excellence – excellent instruction that would serve to help the student develop excellent content and couple it with excellent delivery in order to achieve excellent and effective communication.
Our new curriculum The NCFCA Comprehensive Guide to Speech is the result of that realization. It is a fabulous resource that seeks to help young students utilize the parts of the NCFCA ballot as criteria by which to assess the effectiveness of their presentation. These criteria (content, delivery, and overall presentation) are not just useful to the judge with a ballot; they are useful benchmarks for anyone striving to improve their speaking skills.
Even though NCFCA is an organization that holds competitive events, please be assured you don’t have to be an NCFCA competitor to get great value from NCFCA’s curriculum. Make no mistake – tournaments are important and there is much to be gained from the “iron sharpening iron” experiences inherent in competition. But the goal of NCFCA is not to produce trophy winners or give out great college scholarships. Our goal is to train young people to be thoughtful, articulate, and gracious in their quest to share the love of God. Anyone can use this curriculum and the criteria outlined in these pages to learn to glorify God through their communication.
It’s been such a blessing to be able to work with folks at IEW to publish The NCFCA Comprehensive Guide to Speech. Their commitment to partnering with us to create a work that meets the standard of excellence held by both IEW and NCFCA has been a critical component in our efforts to give families the tools they need to teach their children to effectively and graciously speak truth to the world. Thanks to Andrew Pudewa, Julie Walker, and all the other fabulous staff at IEW for all you have done for us and for the families who will be blessed through this curriculum!