(Photoillustration: Tablet Magazine; photo: High School Debate Team by rightsreaders, some rights reserved.)

Growing up, Mark Oppenheimer was always itching for a fight. He didn’t want the kind involving jabs and hooks—rhetorical skill and quick wit were his weapons—but, even so, neither his peers nor the hands-on-activity-loving teachers at his progressive elementary schools shared his inclinations. Salvation came in middle school, when he discovered the world of competitive debate. There, verbal agility was rewarded, as Oppenheimer, a Tablet Magazine contributing editor, recounts in his new memoir, Wisenheimer: A Childhood Subject to Debate. He discussed how debate skills do and don’t contribute to journalistic endeavors, and what this all has to do with being Jewish, and his third-grade nemesis—a teacher named Lisa—with Vox Tablet host Sara Ivry.