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Old 12-04-2012, 12:35 AM   #1
SandrA9810
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Essay writing, agreeing with two different points of view

So there was an in class essay today, but it kind of threw me for a loop on how to respond to it. We're given a prompt, then we have to either agree or disagree, and write a standard MLA style paper.

Today's prompt was "How Americans Learn." The statement was, some people believe that people learn best in a classroom. However, others believe people learn best in real life situations.

Since the author doesn't explicitly say which side he agrees with, I don't know if I did my thesis right. I agree with both sides, it takes a little bit of both. School is more black and white, there's right and wrong. While real life is shaded in gray, and there isn't always one right or wrong way to do something.

Did I do it wrong? Is it possible to agree with both sides?
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Old 12-04-2012, 12:47 AM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SandrA9810 View Post
So there was an in class essay today, but it kind of threw me for a loop on how to respond to it. We're given a prompt, then we have to either agree or disagree, and write a standard MLA style paper.

Today's prompt was "How Americans Learn." The statement was, some people believe that people learn best in a classroom. However, others believe people learn best in real life situations.

Since the author doesn't explicitly say which side he agrees with, I don't know if I did my thesis right. I agree with both sides, it takes a little bit of both. School is more black and white, there's right and wrong. While real life is shaded in gray, and there isn't always one right or wrong way to do something.

Did I do it wrong? Is it possible to agree with both sides?
In real life, yes, it is possible. However, it sounds like the assignment was to pick a side. Is the professor someone who is a stickler for following directions to the letter? Or someone who is more concerned with the quality of the writing and the strength of the argument? I have had both types of teachers; certainly prefer the latter!
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Old 12-04-2012, 01:00 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SandrA9810 View Post
So there was an in class essay today, but it kind of threw me for a loop on how to respond to it. We're given a prompt, then we have to either agree or disagree, and write a standard MLA style paper.

Today's prompt was "How Americans Learn." The statement was, some people believe that people learn best in a classroom. However, others believe people learn best in real life situations.

Since the author doesn't explicitly say which side he agrees with, I don't know if I did my thesis right. I agree with both sides, it takes a little bit of both. School is more black and white, there's right and wrong. While real life is shaded in gray, and there isn't always one right or wrong way to do something.

Did I do it wrong? Is it possible to agree with both sides?
As Janepod says, since the assignment was to agree or disagree I'd think you should have chosen a side and argued it.

Within that, you can come down the middle some, and acknowledge that there are positive aspects to the other side and for some people, etc., or whatever, but if it's to agree or disagree, you should choose.
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Old 12-04-2012, 01:23 AM   #4
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In real life, yes, it is possible. However, it sounds like the assignment was to pick a side. Is the professor someone who is a stickler for following directions to the letter? Or someone who is more concerned with the quality of the writing and the strength of the argument? I have had both types of teachers; certainly prefer the latter!
Well there was one essay I wrote a few weeks ago. I agreed with the point of view, but I didn't blatantly put it as my thesis, which the teacher noted on my paper. This time I said something along the lines of "I agree with this person on how americans learn, a student learns in the classroom then as part of society learns from the real world. (Well something along those lines.)

All the in class essays were pretty much a surprise essay. I never really learned how to write an argument style essay, so they've thrown me for a loop. Other than those essays, I've done really good at the rest of the stuff. I just hope my better work before doesn't hurt me with this essay. Like I set the bar too high for myself.
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Old 12-04-2012, 06:39 AM   #5
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I teach middle school writing. I tell my students to basically pick one side and stick with it. I also acknowledge that even though you may agree with "both" , pick the side that is easiest to present.

OWL Perdue has some good information on argumentative essays.

http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/685/05/
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Old 12-04-2012, 09:34 AM   #6
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The answer is: it depends.

But the easiest answer is to always stick to your prompt. If the teacher says to pick a side, pick a side. If this were a class focused on self awareness, it would be more important to explore your opinion. But as this is a writing class, I assume, the task is more an exercise to teach argumentative/persuasive writing skills. Your actual opinion, in this instance, is less important than developing the skill.

Now, in an upper division lit/comp class, strong argumentative writing does acknowledge any agreeable or accurate points made by your opponent. You then state why those points fail to dissuade you. However, I'm going to go out on a limb here and say this would not have been required of you. Unless done correctly, it can too easily muddy which side you are actually taking.

Without seeing your paper, or knowing your teacher, it would be impossible to say you messed up. Maybe you did a great job of exploring both sides, yet clearly preferred one over the other. Or perhaps your writing skills were enough to overlook your not being clear. Most teachers, in my experience, do take into consideration past work when grading. So hopefully, if there is a problem, she will give you a good grade with some tips for the future. Either way, don't be so hard on yourself. This is what these exercises are for, after all.
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Old 12-04-2012, 09:54 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SandrA9810 View Post
Well there was one essay I wrote a few weeks ago. I agreed with the point of view, but I didn't blatantly put it as my thesis, which the teacher noted on my paper. This time I said something along the lines of "I agree with this person on how americans learn, a student learns in the classroom then as part of society learns from the real world. (Well something along those lines.)

All the in class essays were pretty much a surprise essay. I never really learned how to write an argument style essay, so they've thrown me for a loop. Other than those essays, I've done really good at the rest of the stuff. I just hope my better work before doesn't hurt me with this essay. Like I set the bar too high for myself.
Of course he or she did. A weak thesis statement is a recipe for a poorly written essay.
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Old 12-04-2012, 10:01 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cindy B View Post
I teach middle school writing. I tell my students to basically pick one side and stick with it. I also acknowledge that even though you may agree with "both" , pick the side that is easiest to present.

OWL Perdue has some good information on argumentative essays.

http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/685/05/
What I tell my students too.

As a student, I always either chose the side I felt most passionately about OR, if I was really indifferent (or just wanted to write an easy essay), I'd pick the side that was easiest to argue.
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Old 12-05-2012, 06:26 AM   #9
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I guess picking real world would've been easier. Everyone is going to have real world experiences. Being a student is not forever or for everyone. But it's also hard to make it in the real world without being a student first. It's a revolving cycle.... Each side was equally balanced in it's support for the prompt.

I got a D on my first essay, then a 90 on my second essay. All of our long essays, that we had a week to do, I got a 95 or above. I can write the essays, but everything flies out the window on impromptu writing like that. Class is only 70 minutes long, so there's barely enough time to write the 5 paragraphs, let alone think about what to write.
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Old 12-05-2012, 06:31 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by SandrA9810 View Post
I guess picking real world would've been easier. Everyone is going to have real world experiences. Being a student is not forever or for everyone. But it's also hard to make it in the real world without being a student first. It's a revolving cycle.... Each side was equally balanced in it's support for the prompt.

I got a D on my first essay, then a 90 on my second essay. All of our long essays, that we had a week to do, I got a 95 or above. I can write the essays, but everything flies out the window on impromptu writing like that. Class is only 70 minutes long, so there's barely enough time to write the 5 paragraphs, let alone think about what to write.
How'd you do on the SAT or ACT writing portion? That's the same thing in only like a half hour - so maybe if you think back to that or how you prepared for that...?
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Old 12-05-2012, 06:54 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SandrA9810 View Post
I guess picking real world would've been easier. Everyone is going to have real world experiences. Being a student is not forever or for everyone. But it's also hard to make it in the real world without being a student first. It's a revolving cycle.... Each side was equally balanced in it's support for the prompt.

I got a D on my first essay, then a 90 on my second essay. All of our long essays, that we had a week to do, I got a 95 or above. I can write the essays, but everything flies out the window on impromptu writing like that. Class is only 70 minutes long, so there's barely enough time to write the 5 paragraphs, let alone think about what to write.
70 minutes is more than enough time. I teach 40 minute blocks for 6-8th graders and we practice timed writing often.
Our state test gives students 25-40 minutes for a five paragraph - depending
on grade level. I basically tell students 5-10 minutes to plan and the rest for actual writing

Are you prewriting/using gra phic organizers? That would help timing.

Does the school offer a tutoring or writing lab? I actually was a student worker for my university. I helped many people with essays, writing style and assignments.
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Old 12-05-2012, 06:59 AM   #12
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I see that others here esp. Cindy said to pick a side and go with it.

My dd who is a HS sophomore is a student in this arena and has taken a ton of these tests, some of them for competition. She does it very well.

Basically she said that not picking a side weakens your essay. The goal of the essay is to see how well you can support your side.

She said if you did agree with the "other side" in an essay you would have to immediately refute it and then go on to support the side you picked.

Anyway, you will get better!
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Old 12-06-2012, 12:31 AM   #13
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I never really took an interest in English before this class, my strong point is Math. I got a 136/200, but that only took my grade down 1%, so I still have an 90% in the class. I just need to do well on the final next week. Which we'll be given various prompts, and we have to use any work we've read to prove one of the points. I can do that much easier since I'll have the information at hand to prove it.

He's also a real stickler for grammar, so I spend some time proof reading to edit those mistakes. Give me a math test, and I can be the first one done. On an English test, I'm usually the last one done. I tried using the writing center once for my first essay, but they fill up the time slots so fast that it didn't really help. Instead I go to another professor I had last semester for a literature class, and he helps me out with anything I need. My teacher also gave me a book after class today on writing. I'm thinking about taking the next class with him next fall.
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Old 12-06-2012, 09:47 AM   #14
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I'm taking an English class this semester. In an argument paper, we've been told to agree with one side, however to present the other side and tell the merits of that other side, assuming there are some. By showing that the other side isn't totally without any points, we are reinforcing our stance.

I can't wait for this class to be over!!!....however I am signing up for a grammar course next semester. Glutton for punishment, I suppose!
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Old 12-06-2012, 10:53 AM   #15
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Sounds like the common assignment where you were supposed to write an essay in support of , or in disagreement with, a certain point of view.

It wasn't about which side the author or the professor agreed with.
It wasn't about 'how to compare' or 'agree with both sides'.
One could play Devil's Advocate, just for the heck of it, and take a controversial and unpopular side.

Just guessing, but you may not have done the assignment as expected.

You may personally agree with both sides...
But, I do not think that this was what the assignment was asking.
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