Essay Assignment #3
With argumentative or persuasive writing, you are trying to sway an audience towards a particular point of view or towards a particular action or group of actions you feel that should be taken. For instance, you may feel that the schools need to adopt year-round schedules. The first thing you would need to do would be to establish the basic details that you could use as evidence to support what you have to say. You will not necessarily use everything that you come up with because of considerations about your particular purpose for writing and about your audience.
Once you have come up with potential supporting material, you need to choose an audience. The argument you write in order to convince working mothers that year-round schooling is a good idea will use details that will appeal to them and to their needs. For instance, you could point out that working families will not have to make alternate arrangements for child care during long summer breaks. Instead, they will have shorter, more manageable breaks to work around. You could also point out the benefits to the children. With shorter breaks, there is less time to forget material learned during the term. Also, if there are difficulties encountered, supplementary instruction is generally available during the breaks.
The argument you write in order to convince high-schoolers that this is a good idea will be somewhat different, using details that are more geared to their needs and wants. For instance, it has been suggested that many colleges look favorably upon students from year-round systems since they are more accustomed to continuous learning. Also, it has also been suggested that potential employers also look kindly upon students from year-round schools since the students schedules more closely match those of the working world.
Audience, of course, as well as your purpose (and to a lesser degree, role) helps to determine your language choices. However, denotation and connotation also play a large role. Read these two sentences.
–Johnny was very thrifty and always kept the clubs budget balanced.
–Johnny was very parsimonious and always kept the clubs budget balanced.
Which of the two sentences above sounds more negative? Even if you dont know that parsimonious means excessive unwillingness to spend, Im assuming that sentence was probably your choice.
Evidence and Bulletproofing
You also need to consider bulletproofing your arguments. Sit down and consider the various ways people might try to undermine your argument. After identifying these, try to incorporate details that will help protect your paper from counter arguments. (Some say that year-round schedules increase drop-out rates; if you go ahead and bring this up and then COUNTER it with evidence to the contrary, you will have successfully bulletproofed your paper against that particular counter-
The key word in any argumentative or persuasive paper is evidence. You can have any opinion you want, but you must provide accurate, reliable evidence from personal observation and/or supplemental evidence from supporting material (researched sources). With little or no support, youre arguments carry little or no weight since you are asking your audience to take what you say at face value and without using critical thinking.
Supporting material, by the way, doesnt necessarily HAVE to agree with your argument. Certainly, people agreeing with what you have to say is, of course, a good thing. However, material that goes against what you have to say, if your argument is good enough, can serve as a whipping post against which you can compare your argument and show why the other point of view is either wrong outright or is simply less effective than yours. (If you were arguing for the presidents Social Security plan over alternative plans, for instance, you could do a point by point comparison and show how the presidents plan is simply better.)
However, do not provide the other sides arguments unless you are prepared to refute them. Doing so otherwise undermines your point of view. Also, do not use unnecessary qualifiers like It is only an opinion, or I could be wrong, but, etc. These also undermine your arguments. One of the things that will help you in this regard is the use of third person point of view. Do not say “I,” “me,” “my,” “you,” etc. in this paper unless you have gained advance permission from me to do so.
When you are searching for supporting material, think critically about what is being said. As I said, anyone can have any opinion he or she wants as long as he or she can adequately support it.
Religion and Emotion
Do not mistake emotion for evidence. Appeals to emotion may produce anger or a tear or two, but they also tend to turn off those who do not already believe the way that you do.
Similarly, arguments based entirely on religion also tend to reach only those who already feel the way you do. Religion and emotion should be used like salt and pepper: they add flavor, but they should never be the main dish.
Avoiding Logical Fallacies
Remember the Logical Fallacies discussed in class and in your textbook. When we discussed argumentation, I told you to avoid both the overuse of emotion and the overuse of religion because both types of arguments tend to “preach to the converted.” Emotion and religion can also appear to be red herrings, items you threw in to disguise a more fundamental problem with the actual argument.
You will need to write a minimum two-page argumentative essay using at least ONE (preferably more) outside sources. Your use of this source material will be documented using MLA format.
Formatting: Your essay must be formatted in the following manner:
10 or 12-point font
Third person point of view (no I, me, my, mine, you, yours, etc.)
Typed formal outline
Works Cited page
Creative, attention getting title (no Essay 3 or Argumentative Essay)
Grammar: You must observe the following grammar restrictions:
Do not start sentences with there or here (example: There is a place that I love very much.).
Do not start sentences with FANBOYS (for, and, nor, but, or, yet, so).
Do not start sentences with it unless the antecedent is clear to the reader. No: It is a shame when Christmas trees catch on fire. Yes: We looked through the window at the skunk. It sat there, fat and happy, eating what was left on the plates.
Limit your use of contractions (example: its, shes, youre).
Use third person only
Topic Restrictions: No essays may be written about the following topics:
September 11/conspiracy theories
Comparison of political candidates or parties
Otherwise, you have complete control over the topic selection. More than any other paper, argumentative essays require a topic about which you are keenly interested.
Because the course is nearly over, you will not be able to revise this essay. I will, therefore, be grading this essay differently.