It's not always about being funny.

What I learned about judging the Georgia Academic Decathlon State Competition

When I told Heather that I’d be happy to come up to Atlanta to be a Speech Judge for the Georgia Academic Decathlon’s (GAD) State Competition, I saw it as little more than an excuse to visit Atlanta.  I figured I’d listen to some nerdy kids, dole out scores, and enjoy the little slice of power that I held over the future of children.

I didn’t think that I’d actually learn anything about myself. But I did:

1.  I’m a lot stricter with kids than I ever thought I’d be. I’ve always said that if I taught high school or college, I’d be the professor that everyone would want to have, because I’d be lenient.  When listening to these students giving their speeches and judging them on their ability and presence, I was surprised to find myself not giving them a break at all.  I realized that I actually have high expectations for our youth, and that it wouldn’t do anyone any good to give a high score simply to be nice.

2.  I’m actually capable of treating everyone equally. I’ve said many, many times, that I have a severe prejudice against people whom I perceive to be ugly.  I know it’s shallow, and I know it’s twisted, but my heart just hates uggos.  At the same time that I do that, I tend to give the benefit of the doubt to attractive women.  It’s probably my biggest flaw.  While judging the speeches, though, I had no problem docking the scores of the gorgeous European multilingual girl in the thigh high boots and tight black skirt and giving a higher score to that one awkward boy who just didn’t look right.

3.  I wanted to help these kids. As a judge, we were there to listen to their speeches, score them, and send them on their ways.  This was not the time nor place to offer advice or constructive criticism.  We couldn’t provide them with any guidance or counsel.  And for many of them, I yearned to.  I wanted to write notes and give suggestions and encouragement.  Their futures, at that moment, seemed important to me.

4.  I want to come back. The scant hours spent judging these kids was an amazing, enriching experience.  I want to do it again.  Even more, though, I want to see how I can get involved in teens’ lives in other capacities.  This was so much more than I expected it to be, and I’m extremely glad that I was asked to be involved.

5.  Bloggers rock. The girl who had the best speech out of all the ones I saw actually did her entire speech about NaNoWriMo and how she wrote a 50,000 word novel and actually was proud of her accomplishment.  She followed it up with an impromptu speech about Batman.  She was a nerd. She was a blogger. And she rocked.

In other Avita-news, today is the birthday of a good friend and kick-ass chick, Jen (aka @DuchessMama)! She’s 31 today, and she needs lots of birthday wishes, because otherwise, it’s not shaping up to be a good birthday weekend for her. Go give her some Twitter love, and happy birthday, Jen!

16 thoughts on “What I learned about judging the Georgia Academic Decathlon State Competition”

  1. You really weren’t swayed by thigh-high boots?
    I have a friend in Georgia with 2 teenagers that were involved in Speech and Debate tournaments. They have traveled to Florida for tournaments. You could probably find a way to get involved closer to home.
    Or find a local team that needs a mentor.
    I’m glad you enjoyed it.

  2. You know, I’m actually a little harder on attractive people in terms of my expectation for their intellect. I guess that’s *my* flaw? Also, the idea of your being around teens is frightening to me. Not because I care about the kids, but I’m not sure if I have enough money set aside to bail you out in a timely manner.

  3. I’m glad to see you want to guide today’s youth and you said it well when you said,

    ” I realized that I actually have high expectations for our youth, and that it wouldn’t do anyone any good to give a high score simply to be nice.”

    Well done.

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