Thursday, October 11, 2012

Passing English Class Writing Series: The Difference Between an Argumentative Essay and a Report

It doesn’t matter if you’re in high school or college, to write an argumentative essay—a collection of paragraphs that makes a point, you need understand the difference between what makes your paper a worthless piece of fodder and a shining example for the rest of the class. I can tell you what that difference is: YOU!

Children write reports when they’re told to write essays. They list a bunch of facts that, at best, makes an all-too-obvious argument. For example:
Did you know that there are only 1,600 giant pandas left in the world? I believe that Pandas great and should be saved. People destroy 300 acres of natural forestland every year. This means that there is less room for pandas to live.

Let me be honest, if you’re above the age of 16, you should not be writing like this, but I can help you improve. Let’s look at the argument, which is:
I believe that Pandas great and should be saved. That is technically an argument, but tell me, is that a good argument? Would you read that? If more than 80 percent of the world agrees with what you have to say, then to whom are you really arguing against?

Hit the jump for the rest!

Pandas ARE great and most people would agree that they should be saved. Let’s be blunt—if hardly anyone would argue against you, then you’re not making an essay-worthy argument. Without an interestingargument, you’re making fodder.

Now, if you want to stand out in your English classes, if you want to pass with the +A, then give the teacher something that he’ll enjoy reading
. Many teachers will grade you higher if you’re making an interesting or bold statement (even if they disagree with you!), as long as you’re using sound logic to back up your argument.

Children report on tired topics through essays, but
adults make NEW ideas through essays. Use yourself. Write something ONLY YOU would have considered writing. Make an argument that teeters on the line of what most people would think it truth or normal. For example:

People destroy 300 acres of natural forestland every year. This means that there is less room for giant pandas to live. I believe we can solve this problem by breeding giant pandas to be smaller in size, and therefore they will take up less space in our shrinking environment.
 Now this argues for something perhaps the reader would not have been expecting. Shrinking down pandas to make way for deforestation? Sounds crazy, but as a student you can (and should!) make the craziest claims you want as long as you back up your argument with tons of facts that support your argument. High schools and colleges are places to experiment with writing. Make bold, unique claims. Step out of the zone you find comfortable. You’ll be thankful you did.

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