Persuasive writing often demands that students consider a series of moral/ethical dilemmas. In the past, the AP Language and Composition test has asked students to determine the valueof Peter Singer’s argument about
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donating all money not used for necessities to global charities, examine the ethics of incentives for charitable giving and consider the implications of a buy nothing day. The SAT prompts from December 2011 ask students to consider the role of small groups in creating lasting societal change and whether or not idealists can be successful. As I said yesterday, students have opinions about these topics but frequently struggle to marshal specific evidence when they answer these questions. That’s where Good Media Company and Magazine come into play.
Before jumping into the variety of resources Good Magazine has to offer, it seems appropriate to offer students a bit of background. Interviewed in 2007 on NPR’s Weekend Edition, Ben Goldhirsh discusses the purpose of the company itself. The story seems very much like Andrew Carnegie’s Gospel of Wealth. Child of well-to do parents with philanthropic tendencies receives trust fund and the responsibility of a foundation that funds brain cancer research. Trust fund can only be used to create start-up business. Child launches a magazine for “people who give a damn.”
It’s an interesting concept. Have students start with the concept of good itself. Treat them to an “impromptu” version of a persuasive essay. I’m sure they’ll love it.
Example: As a member of society, do individuals have the responsibility to do “good” works?
Have students construct written responses to the questions below or use them to scaffold the beginning of a larger essay.
- Define the concept of good.
This is easy enough to do in broad clichéd terms. Have them think smaller. So start with categories like:
- List three ingredients necessary for good food.
- What makes good music?
- What action qualify as doing good?
Give specific examples from your own extensive experience and knowledge.
Then ask students to review the actual About page for Good Magazine. Consider asking them a range of questions about the purpose of this type of mission statement. Areas of focus could include rhetorical analysis and argument analysis.
- In the context of Good’s mission statement what might “give a damn” include? Why is this the way in which they choose to phrase their argument?
- Examine informal language, sentence fragments and listing. What effect does this style have on the company’s argument about itself?
- What do they imply about modern society? What do they imply about you if you landed on their about page?
- Is what the company stands for possible? Would it be possible for any company? Explain.
Now, this might be as far as you want to take Good Magazine in your classroom and that would be okay. However, as I hinted on Monday, Good can be used as a useful classroom tool to build knowledge. And so, tomorrow we’ll talk The Daily Good.