Roundtable Debates + Observer Reports

15.01.2016 GFFA im City Cube

First observer report is due on Monday! The outline for the observer report is on the back of the debate rubric. In case you need it, here are the expectations for the observer report.

Observer’s Reports:

On days you are not debating, you are still expected to actively participate by taking notes and asking questions. You will be expected to write two “observer’s reports” (~1.5 pages) detailing:

  1. what you saw and heard during the debate
  2. what the most convincing arguments on both sides were
  3. which side you ultimately sided with on the issue and why (should be the largest part of your report)

Observer reports are not meant to be formal papers – rather, they simply show me that you were engaged in the discussion, learned something meaningful about both sides, and took the time to carefully consider the moral implications of the issue.

Roundtable Debate Rubric: MoralityModernIssuesRoundTables

Debate Guidelines: MoralityDebateExpectations


Thanks to all the groups that have gone this week – I’ve been impressed by your capacity to look at these issues seriously and consider various perspectives.

To all the groups going next week, notice what went well or what could be improved – and DO that! You’ve got the precedence of your brave, trailblazing peers to help you improve your own project. Use that privilege!


Perspectives on Abortion


The first moral issue that we will discuss will be abortion. Since well before 1973, when two Supreme Court cases legalized abortion in the United States, the issue of abortion has held a central place within U.S. culture.

Recognizing that this is an incredibly personal and emotional issue, please remember personal attacks have no place in this classroom – love another, please. At the same time, DO raise any questions or opposing views that are on your mind – these are the key to a  helpful discussion that actually addresses the issues. Just make these questions and points thoughtfully and compassionately. We are seeking truth together – trust that we genuinely want the best for one another.

In order to help us discuss the issue of abortion, I have selected a few readings that offer different perspectives on the issue from the lens of the Catholic Church that you may be unfamiliar with. I have personally found these perspectives helpful in trying to understand why the Church teaches what it does.

For tomorrow (Friday), please read whichever of the two readings below interests you more, and write a 2 paragraph summary of the main ideas of the article as well as any ideas that you found new or interesting, and a 1 paragraph personal response to those ideas. Make sure that your personal response discusses the ideas of the article (not the author!) and raises any questions or statements that didn’t make sense to you. Disclaimer: both of these are from a Catholic perspective, since they will guide our lesson on the Church’s teaching and reasoning on the issue. We will discuss other perspectives on the issue on Monday!

Option 1: The Relationship between Poverty and Abortion – Poverty and Abortion A Vicious Cycle

Option 2: A Catholic Feminist Perspective on Abortion: Women Deserve Better Than Abortion

(Additionally, if reading about the Church just gets you angry, you may want to check out either Pro-life Humanists or Feminist for Life . Both of these secular organizations offer some non-religious perspectives and reasoning on the issue of abortion that you may find more interesting or engaging.)


Listening to the Other


Today in class, we discussed the importance of learning to listen and take another perspective. The Wright brothers’ style of debating is a perfect example of this – we only stand to benefit from trying to really hear and understand the “other” side.

For Thursday, please read this short opinion piece titled “The ‘Other Side’ is Not Dumb” by Sean Blanda, a writer for The Medium:

After you finish reading, please fill out this Google Form with reflection questions: