She teaches kids to argue back



Lynn Robinson

Middle school debate coordinator for Baltimore Urban Debate League

Age --29

Years on the job --One

Salary --$35,000

On the power of debate --"Debate is more than a tool for teaching how to formulate an argument and address conflict. ... It gets you to understand the other side and ... acquire the tools to make your own argument stronger."

What's involved --After five years of teaching at Harbor City High School and coaching debate since 2001, Robinson went to work for the Baltimore Urban Debate League. The nonprofit league has been forming competitive debate teams in the city's public high schools for seven years. Teams participate in citywide tournaments but occasionally debate other schools.

Typical tournament day --Robinson and her partner, Andy Ellis, get in early to pack up "tubs" (containers that hold supplies) with evidence to be used in the debates, registration information, bottles of water, timers for judges and ibuprofen. The six-hour tournaments are held once a month at the University of Baltimore.

The good --Usually the focus on debating is that it can help students get into college but it offers more, she said. It provides reading comprehension, it gives students a voice, it helps them learn to speak in front of others and to become advocates for themselves.

Philosophy on the job --"My own personal life goal is to change the world one thing at a time. ... Touch one life and that life can go on to change the world."

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