Posts Tagged ‘Argument’

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Beyond Our Classrooms

posted: 5.8.15 by Donna Winchell

All teachers hope that their students will make use of the knowledge and skills taught in their courses–in spite of the students’ protestations that “I’ll never use this after the class ends!” One example from a writing course:  “I’ll have a secretary to catch grammar and punctuation errors for me.” I must admit that I don’t see either of my sons ever using the advanced math they were learning by the end of high school. But as teachers of writing, we can rest assured that more of our students will make use of the skills we teach than will ever make use of imaginary numbers. As teachers of critical thinking, our hope is that all of them will take that skill out into the world and put it to use as workers, voters, parents, community members, and just as people alive in the world. [read more]

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Categories: Argument, Critical Thinking, Donna Winchell
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Freedom: A Definition Issue?

posted: 4.10.15 by Donna Winchell

Indiana’s controversial Religious Freedom Restoration Act reminds us once again of the role that definition can play in argumentation. The case has been made that the recent Indiana law is no different from the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act signed into law by President Clinton in 1993. One crucial difference, however, is a matter of definition. The federal RFRA states, “Government shall not substantially burden a person’s exercise of religion even if the burden results from a rule of general applicability.” The wording of the state law is identical except that the term “governmental entity” replaces “government.” That is not the crucial difference, however. [read more]

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What a Difference a Word Makes

posted: 3.6.15 by Donna Winchell

Language has made the headlines once again. We teach our students that word choice affects their arguments. President Obama has drawn criticism over the last few weeks, mostly from Republicans, for being what some critics consider overly cautious. He has chosen to carefully avoid use of the word “Islamic” in referring to ISIS terrorists [read more]

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The Movie Review as a Claim-of-Value Essay

posted: 2.13.15 by Donna Winchell

Because my son Jonathan is a film scholar, I am probably even more aware than most that this is awards season. The Academy Awards ceremony each year is for our household what the Super Bowl is for others. Jonathan recently posted on Facebook that in his lifetime he has seen 2,502 movies. The fact that he knows that speaks volumes about his obsession, along with the fact that he was watching classic silent movies before he could read the subtitles. I came naturally to use the movie review as a means of teaching the claim of value, but my approach can be adapted to other types of evaluative writing as well.  [read more]

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Categories: Assignment Idea, Donna Winchell, Genre, Popular Culture, Rhetorical Situation
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Teaching the Tensions

posted: 1.30.15 by Donna Winchell

The last few weeks have seen two threats to freedom of speech that have generated international attention. The first was North Korea’s threats against Sony if the movie The Interview was released because the comedy was about the assassination of North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong-un. Although the threats were enough to delay the release, within days the movie opened peacefully nationwide and was soon available on demand. It may have been only a movie—and a mediocre one at best—but it was a matter of principle. Threats to freedom of speech became much more serious with the massacre of twelve journalists at the French weekly Charlie Hebdo following the publication of cartoons mocking the prophet Mohammed. They may have been only cartoons, but twelve people died for the right to publish them, and hundreds of thousands marched in support of that right. [read more]

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Categories: Argument, Critical Thinking, Discussion, Donna Winchell
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Holiday Appeals

posted: 12.12.14 by Donna Winchell

I just read on cnn.com about the Hendersons of Hurricane, Utah, who have cancelled Christmas in an effort to teach their three children to stop being disrespectful and to stop acting entitled. They will celebrate the religious meaning of Christmas, but Santa won’t be visiting their house this year.

Ads also appeal to their audience’s values, and during the Christmas season, there is an extra push to remind people to exhibit the spirit of Christmas by sharing with the less fortunate. If you’ve ever dropped some money into a Salvation Army bucket–or felt guilty for not doing so–you have been targeted by one of the most visible of the season’s appeals to values.We all know the common complaints about the commercialization of Christmas. In fact, the Christmas season is a good time to look at the commercials that start showing up around Halloween. If we think about commercials as arguments designed to convince us to buy a product or act in a certain way, we can analyze the needs and values that they are appealing to. [read more]

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Claims and the Research Essay

posted: 10.31.14 by Donna Winchell

A significant part of many argumentation courses is the research essay. We teach our students how to find and evaluate sources and how to use them to support a claim. When a substantial amount of time is spent on the research unit, a sequence of assignments based on the same body of research provides a way to use course time more efficiently and reinforces the differences among the different types of claims taught when using the Toulmin Model. [read more]

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Generalizing from the Headlines

posted: 10.3.14 by Donna Winchell

The headlines about Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice and the accompanying video of him knocking his then-fiancée unconscious in an Atlantic City hotel elevator sparked national debate about domestic violence.  Rice is awaiting appeal of his indefinite suspension by the NFL. He has already been judged in the court of public opinion. Widely publicized events like this one, however, provide compelling examples that can be used in teaching argumentation. [read more]

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God and the Gridiron

posted: 4.25.14 by Donna Winchell

There seems always to be some scandal in college football. This time my university’s football coach is being criticized for “religious coercion” by the Freedom from Religion Foundation, the same group, based in Michigan, that recently attacked the local school board here in South Carolina for letting a student lead an opening prayer at each meeting of the board. [read more]

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Medical Moral Dilemmas

posted: 3.31.14 by Donna Winchell

In an essay we include in Elements of Argument, “The Case for Torture,” Michael Levin asks under what circumstances it would be all right to use torture. The immediate impulse might be to say never. He presents some rather convincing hypothetical scenarios, however, to test readers’ steadfastness in sticking to that answer. [read more]

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