My first seminar was on time management and study skills. However, we mostly learned about note taking. We learned how to "flow" an argument. This basically means writing down a fast-read argument extremely quickly using a combination of techniques such as the application of shorthand, symbols, and structure to your notes. We learned that we can use, and should, use this method not only for debating, but for every set of notes we take. This method seems like it is be extremely helpful to my note taking in the future.
The second seminar, although it did not discuss the demigod known as Winston Churchill, did have some good things to say on written advocacy. However, I had already learned what she was talking about from a teacher at El Cerrito! El Cerrito High School teaching the same methods as Yale? Score 1 for public education. The method was to be sure to avoid convoluting your essays with "meaningless words," as George Orwell would out it. The instructor asked us to read a George Orwell excerpt which condemned the disenfranchisement of the English language. He asserts that English rhetoric and literature has devolved into a convoluted mess used by politicians and writers alike. This convolution, Orwell asserts, is due to the surplus of meaningless words, usually adjectives, in the current use of the English language. he says that to illustrate your point more fully you have to show the reader that your argument is correct by techniques such as citing data or giving examples. This works much more effectively than simply telling someone your argument and backing it only with an adjective that solely represents your individual bias. For example, "The awesome Winston Churchill.. " does not prove anything about the awesomeness (yes, "awesomeness" somehow passes spellcheck as a legitimate word) of Churchill and the adjective "awesome" is a "meaningless word." However, if you say "Winston Churchill is awesome because he poses for pictures while holding Tommy guns and smoking cigars." you have illustrated your point using examples and given your argument more legitimacy. This is one of the most important rules of writing that I have leaned so far and I can not thank Mr. Jepson (AP Literature teacher at ECHS) enough for the valuable lesson.
We got a break tonight and got to watch a biography on Robert McNamara and study in our Marshall Briefing groups. However, I know you would disappointed if I told you we went through all this trouble to get me here and I have nothing to do at 2 o'clock in the morning. You guessed, I have to get back to studying and doing some "homework."
Thanks for reading!