So I was chatting with serakit a while ago, and remarked, as I often do, that my SCA apprenticeship was essentially in productive debate. baron_steffan and I spent a lot of years refining that particular art, of taking a question and working, somewhat together and somewhat in opposition, to explore it thoroughly. We'd always start with each of us arguing a particular viewpoint, but part of the game is keeping yourself open to change. (The platonic ideal of Silverwinging is when we discover that we've entirely switched sides somewhere in the course of the discussion.)
Anyway, her comment to me was, "Somebody really ought to teach a class about that." And after pausing to think about it, I found that it's an interesting idea.
I mean, heaven knows SCAdians like to argue -- we do it all the time, both online and in person. Yet I can't think of ever coming across a single class in *practical* rhetoric: how to argue in ways that actually get things done. I suspect it would be useful.
Of course, it's an enormous topic -- one class couldn't do more than scratch the surface. (Indeed, it's a substantial subset of the topic of my on-again off-again Art of Conversation blog.) But even scratching the surface might well be helpful, if it inspired a few more people with the idea that debate is about more than just winning and losing: that it's about working together to find the best answers.
This is nothing but an ill-formed idea at this point. But I welcome thoughts on it: it sounds like it might be fun and useful to some folks...