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Do Lists Work?

Many coaches assign lists of information for their scholastic bowl team members to learn (or memorize).  Some coaches have asked me if I feel this strategy is a good one.  Being honest, I feel it is.

Several lists have been produced over the years.  Some of the most common include works of literature and authors, lists of musical compositions and composers, lists of facts about the presidents, lists of facts about the elements on the periodic table, lists of important dates in history, the amendments to the Constitution, and lists of acronyms and their meanings.

Some coaches are reluctant to use such lists, fearing it will keep their players from being exposed to the actual content of the literature, or the motivation behind certain events in history.  However, most students who play SB will probably already have been exposed to a large amount of cultural material.  Even better, as they move through the high school grades, they will be exposed to the types of information that no list can provide, such as the plot of a work of literature, details about a certain historical event, just to name a few.

However, lists are very useful.  SB covers such a wide range of material that no high school could teach everything that could possibly be asked in a match.  For this reason, lists can be valuable.  Very few high schools ask students to read Ulysses, but if they had a list, they would know that James Joyce wrote it, and a good list will often say that it is written in stream of consciousness.  In a high school match, that's probably all they would ever ask about that work, information that could be found on a good literature list.

Although lists, in themselves, will not make a good team, they can enhance the knowledge of any team, especially in the areas of humanities and social studies.

So, are lists beneficial?  I believe so.  However, remember no list is complete without practicing on the material contained in the list.  Good lists are one of SB coaches' best friends.

Jeremy Krug

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