Developing an Argument Week in Review

           Friday Dialogue from                

                                      Your Two Favorite Educators 

As Emily and Aubrey look back over the week they use their razor sharp wit to break down why “Call Me, Maybe” is the greatest song ever.

1.)  What do you like the most about teaching argument and persuasive writing?
Aubrey: If I could teach some version of the AP Language and Composition argument prompt all year I would die happy.  I love that the evidence isIs Aubrey right? always different.  I love that you can use the classical argument structure.  I love that you don’t have to just know literature.  You have to know EVERYTHING.  I also think it can be the most complex to teach since it relies on the student to pull evidence from their own knowledge base.  Scary.  Still, it forces students to contemplate the world as a mosaic.

Emily:  Even though it scares me, I, too, like the unpredictability.  Plus, I like that this prompt encompasses all aspects of the course.  Beyond AP English LanguWhat does Emily say?age, I love teaching argumentative writing and pieces to my students because it is so much more applicable to their lives.  The text stands a better chance of actually reaching the students when it is a persuasive essay because the students are actually interested in the text and can find meaning.

Also, “world as a mosaic,” huh?  Nice phrasing.  Sounds like you’re in the running for Miss America.

2.)  All of our conversations over the past two weeks have involved our obsession with the poppy “Call Me Maybe” that is flooding the airwaves.  Some people think this song sucks.  Using your knowledge of the Classical Argument scheme, write a refutation AND concession (which is virtually impossible because this is the greatest song ever).

Aubrey:Well, refutation is easy but concession not so much.


      While it is easy to write off most of pop music today, Carly Rae Jepsen’s “Call Me, Maybe” proves that bubbly effervescence can effectively discuss the merits of “crushing.”


    Pop music, with all its auto tune and tales of inappropriate indiscretion can be a turn off.  Absolutely.  It’s foolish, cloying and sometimes all around disgusting. *

*But “Call Me, Maybe” is the best thing since MMMBop.  Even NPR thinks so.

Emily:  I think I would add “however, ‘Call Me, Maybe’ uses auto tune to a minimum and the subject matter of the song, while possibly pithy, is reminiscent of the innocence and excitement found in youth.”  I would also maybe add something like “so this song is awesome.  Deal with it” but imagine I would lose my audience over it.  Who cares though?  This song is awesome.

3.)  On Tuesday I profiled various critical context areas that can help students reach deeper, richer complexity to their arguments.  One strategy I gave was to present students with an issue and ask them to determine the various implications through one critical context lens.  I am now tasking you with this.  Your topic:  the mom who put her five-year-old daughter in the tanning bed.  Your critical context area:  economic.  How is this issue an economic one?
Hmmmm.  Clearly this should be the end of all tanning beds available for children and parents.  We can’t trust any of them to make good decisions.  Economically that has the possibility to set the U.S. economy in an incredible tailspin.  
I know economic is tough.  I also think that the mother, who is clearly What does Emily say?obsessed with tanning, believes that having a better tan brings out benefits otherwise missing from a person.  As a result, putting her daughter in the tanning bed indirectly suggests that she think making her daughter tan will bring her gains.  Since tanning beds are expensive, she is willing to spend money for her daughter to have an artificial appearance.  Phew…that was tough.

4.)  Which of the three argument models (Classical, Rogerian, Toulmin) do you use with your students and why?
Classical–all the way.  It’s easy to teach.  It’s easy to model.  Everything is tidy.  I taught Toulmin when I was a graduate student.  Perhaps it was my lack of ability to teach or the freshman composition class full of athletes but it was terrible.  I was terrible.  I’m forever soured on even saying T-O-U-L-M-I-N.

Emily: I know that Toulmin is the most popular method, but I find it a bit outdated and impractical.  If anything, I prefer Rogerian to Toulmin but would have to agree that the Classical Argument Scheme is my favorite–maybe that’s just because I love Aristotle though.

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