Defending quizbowl

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Knickerbocker glory
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Defending quizbowl

Post by Knickerbocker glory » Thu Sep 25, 2014 7:14 pm

How do I defend the merits of quiz bowl against attacks? Today a student approached me during our school's club day and asked what quiz bowl was. I explained to him the basic structure and format of quiz bowl and showed him a quiz bowl packet. After I had done that he remarked that he "didn't need to know useless trivia." He then pointed to Catherine the Great on the packet and said that knowing who she is was irrelevant to his life. I didn't know how to respond to him. Any suggestions for dealing with people like this?

Also, in general quiz bowl needs to dispel completely the idea that it is trivia. The thing is though, I don't know how to argue that quiz bowl isn't trivia. It's not, but I don't know how to say it in a way that any random Joe can understand.

I hope the community can help me on this one.
Bruce Lou
Saratoga '15 | California '18
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Re: Defending quizbowl

Post by AKKOLADE » Thu Sep 25, 2014 7:18 pm

I think someone who doesn't care who Catherine the Great is isn't likely to be intrigued by quiz bowl; I don't think it's anything that needs defended about it.
Fred Morlan
PACE President, 2018-19
International Quiz Bowl Tournaments, co-owner
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Re: Defending quizbowl

Post by Knickerbocker glory » Thu Sep 25, 2014 7:43 pm

It's just that all of the other activities say that their activity helps (insert mental benefit here). For example, Speech and Debate say that participating in their activity helps increase confidence and is useful for presentations and such. The robotics people say that robotics helps people become interested in science and engineering. I'd like something like that for quiz bowl where I can cite the benefits of quiz bowl. Of course, I (and many others) do quiz bowl because I like to read and learn and I like to show off my learning while competing, but there must be a better argument than "learning for learning's sake."

And of course, the God-awful depiction of quiz bowl as "trivia" or "memorizing facts" needs to go away. I'm trying my best to explain that quiz bowl is about understanding and finding new information to people at my school, but they insist that knowing information that can be looked up online isn't a skill needed in the age of the Internet. How do I defend against people like this, because I'm seriously getting angry towards people who think all I — and all people who play quiz bowl — do is memorize weird facts without understanding them.

I'm not trying to get this guy to join quiz bowl; I'm merely trying to defend quiz bowl as a legitimate activity that takes skill and effort, and should not be branded as "useless" or "mindless."
Bruce Lou
Saratoga '15 | California '18
2018 COLLEGE champion

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Milhouse
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Re: Defending quizbowl

Post by Milhouse » Thu Sep 25, 2014 7:47 pm

I would guess you've already seen this, but if you haven't, this discusses examples of the positive effects of quizbowl.
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Re: Defending quizbowl

Post by The Stately Rhododendron » Thu Sep 25, 2014 9:00 pm

For the "I don't care about Catherine the Great part" you could mention the breadth of subjects that quizbowl covers. I don't care that much about plenty of things in quizbowl (like old battles, comp-sci, greek stuff, etc.), but there are plenty of other things I do care about (literature, current events, etc.). You don't have to be interested in everything, just interested in something.
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Re: Defending quizbowl

Post by Santa Claus » Thu Sep 25, 2014 9:34 pm

Hey Bruce, it's good to see you working to get your Quiz Bowl team up and running.

I think the vast span of information covered in Quiz Bowl is certainly an important point. Quiz Bowl often acts as place to practice something you already enjoy, and while someone could argue that certain parts of Quiz Bowl are not worth knowing, it's not a very meaningful argument; even within the Quiz Bowl community people argue about how important certain subjects/distributions really are. What really matters is that it has something for pretty much everyone.

Also, addressing the robotics example, you can say that Quiz Bowl encourages interest in science and engineering just as much or perhaps even more than any other team/activity on campus, because it provides a very direct way to apply your knowledge. Plus, because it does cover more area, it has many advantages over the other teams, which tend to much more specialized.

If all else fails, you can pull the "3rd in the nation" card.
Kevin Wang
Arcadia High School 2015
Amherst College 2019

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Joshua Rutsky
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Re: Defending quizbowl

Post by Joshua Rutsky » Thu Sep 25, 2014 10:09 pm

As a teacher, I can think of few things that are more useful to the OVERALL student, one who intends to really go beyond a single subject to see the world as an interconnected web of ideas and topics to be built upon, than quiz bowl. See what I said in http://www.hsquizbowl.org/forums/viewto ... 78#p153078 if you want it said nicely.
Joshua Rutsky
President, Alabama Scholastic Competition Association
Hoover HS Coach, 2007-2019
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Re: Defending quizbowl

Post by The Time Keeper » Thu Sep 25, 2014 11:55 pm

GOODCOMPANY88 wrote:How do I defend the merits of quiz bowl against attacks? Today a student approached me during our school's club day and asked what quiz bowl was. I explained to him the basic structure and format of quiz bowl and showed him a quiz bowl packet. After I had done that he remarked that he "didn't need to know useless trivia." He then pointed to Catherine the Great on the packet and said that knowing who she is was irrelevant to his life. I didn't know how to respond to him. Any suggestions for dealing with people like this?

Also, in general quiz bowl needs to dispel completely the idea that it is trivia. The thing is though, I don't know how to argue that quiz bowl isn't trivia. It's not, but I don't know how to say it in a way that any random Joe can understand.

I hope the community can help me on this one.
That student didn't have a use for quizbowl, and I don't think he could be persuaded otherwise. Quizbowl is technically as trivial as anything else, it's just more meaningful for us the way it is. With people like that student, I think the only way you can deal with them is to let them choose not to be a part of quizbowl and look for others who will find a similar meaning in the game that we do. That student just did a really, really bad job of expressing himself. I think it folds back to the idea that knowing more of the "how" of something is (facts, etc.) leads to the greater understanding of "why" something is. Quizbowl is a way to express and test that.

The reason that student isn't going to be a part of quizbowl is because he defines something as "useless"
Pat Freeburn - No particular affiliation.

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Re: Defending quizbowl

Post by Skepticism and Animal Feed » Fri Sep 26, 2014 8:21 am

Not everybody needs to like quizbowl.
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Re: Defending quizbowl

Post by Adventure Temple Trail » Fri Sep 26, 2014 10:03 am

While quizbowl can certainly do a lot to "sell" the positives of the game so as to find more interested people (I wrote a lot about this in the Sales Pitch thread linked above), Pat and Bruce Arthur are right to note that even the best salespeople don't get 100 percent of customers interested in their offer. The purpose of talking to as many people about quizbowl as possible at a venue such as a club fair is to get the subset of students who feel "hmm, that's interesting" to come back around (and to discover how large that subset could be). We generally consider it a big success if a school of 500 to 2000 students is consistently getting 3 or 4 new people involved each year, and while it'd be amazing if more schools could regularly field D-teams and E-teams like the Wilmington Charters and Ransom Evergladeses out there, your realistic goal is to make the game sound good so that the single-digit number of potentially-intrigued people become actually-intrigued people, not to try and change the minds of every student with a very indifferent or hostile mindset.
Matt J.
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