Analysis in Congress and the Team Dynamic

By NSD instructor, Alex Smyk

Every Congress squad I’ve encountered is really close. We spend absurd amounts of time together, both inside and outside of rounds. That’s part of the beauty of Congress – it’s a social event that is conducive to teamwork.

Teamwork, though, sometimes goes awry. The problem is when analysis – rather than analytical skills – is passed from older team members to younger ones. Older members who have encountered and developed awesome points typically want to just share them with younger members. Sometimes, the needy eyes of helpless freshmen are irresistible, and you just can’t avoid the temptation. However, this in itself doesn’t benefit their analysis in the long run – they just learn to regurgitate points rather than develop them themselves. Obviously, some points must be shared to give them a sense of what a quality argument looks and sounds like. Tough love is the way to go though.

Give them guidelines – Claim, Warrant, Impact structure – give them examples – encourage them to go to final rounds – and give them lectures, not points.