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Essay: Pro and Con Argument

Pro and Con argument

     Dr. Otto
I am struck by the weak argument against the writer’s thesis presented in the essay ‘Time is Running Out, in this Module. The writer offers one brief point by saying,’ True, some regions may enjoy some benefits. For example, the farmers on the prairies might enjoy a longer growing season.Then he goes on to present a series of arguments to … 
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Notes

Readers tend to look forward to a good argument but they soon loose interest if the arguments are not presented in a clear and coherent manner. Readers expect a thesis or position statement so that they know what and how the writer will present arguments. Readers can be swayed by the way arguments are present. For example, if the final argument is a weak pro argument, readers tend to regard the writer’s position as rather weak. So, start with the least convincing con arguments and build up to the strongest pro argument and readers are more likely to view the pro arguments as strong arguments.

Writers should include the following features in a pro and con argument:

  • Present a thesis
  • Present the con arguments first
  • Present the pro arguments last
  • Order arguments from the weakest to the strongest
  • Base the conclusion on the thesis and arguments

Sample

Time is Running Out

While scientists are debating whether the people of the earth should be concerned about global warming, Canadians need to act. This is not said to belittle the debate among scientists; their research provides vital information. However, since many scientists claim that the global warming trend is likely to have negative consequences, the people of Canada should plan for the future with this information in mind.

Why the people of Canada? Many scientists agree that if the atmosphere continues to get warmer, many regions will experience negative effects. True, some regions may enjoy some benefits. For example, the farmers on the prairies might enjoy a longer growing season.

But, most Canadians would suffer negative consequences. The Maritimes and the West Coast would experience coastal flooding; arid regions of southern Alberta would turn into deserts; and the permafrost in the Yukon would decay more and more. Skiers would have fewer places to ski in British Columbia , Ontario and Quebec because of a shortage of snow. The fish migration patterns along the eastern shoreline might change so much that the prime fishing areas may disappear. All these changes together would have a negative impact on the lifestyle of most Canadians.

 

Of course, more research is needed to determine the impact of global warming. But that is not good enough for responsible Canadians. We need to take steps immediately to slow down the global warming trend. Canadians should object more strongly to clear cut logging in British Columbia. We must change from being one of the highest users in the world of fossil fuels to one of the lowest.  This would be a promising start to save Canada, as we know it. Not to respond to the threat of global warming would be like ignoring a tornado warning. Let’s not wait till devastation is upon us.

Template for a pro and co argument

1. Introduction – Thesis

the people of Canada should plan for the future with this information in mind

2. Con Argument

True, some regions may enjoy some benefits.

3. Pro Argument

most Canadians would suffer negative consequences

4. Weakest to strongest arguments

  • Weakest argument

True, some regions may enjoy some benefits.

  • Strongest argument

most Canadians would suffer negative consequences

5. Conclusion

This would be a promising start to save Canada, as we know it.

Assignment

Read the following report and complete the template below.

Writing on Demand

The ability to ‘write on demand’ has been neglected in schools in the past few decades as teachers have focused on teaching the writing process and encouraging students to ‘express themselves’. In this paper, I advocate that teachers need to teach the skills of writing on demand without abandoning the writing process.

The research in support of teaching the writing process and encouraging students to express themselves is substantial. (Graves 1983, Murray 1985, Calkins 1986). Their main focus has been on encouraging students to write about what they know on topics of their interest. Through this experience, students discover that writing is a recursive process consisting of rehearsing, composing and revising.  Gradually, they learn about the mechanics of writing through informal instruction and writing. This approach also emphasizes that students need to write frequently and receive feedback.

This approach to writing reflects a number of serious weaknesses, especially as it relates to the ability to write on demand. First, it is excessively student centered in that students are free to write about topics of their choice. Hence, their writing tends to focus on personal narratives. This does not prepare them for writing on assigned topics within time limits.

Second, personal writing experiences do not prepare students for writing essays or reports. It does not introduce them to the formats and thinking strategies required to write expository text. What if all high school graduates were unprepared to write reports required by the workplace? Who would hire them? How would they get jobs?

Third, a student centered approach to writing does not prepare them for the workplace. For example, suppose a foreman requires an employee at Canadian Tires to prepare a report on the inventory of automobile tires on a specific day. After counting and classifying the tires, the new enthusiastic employee eagerly begins to write a report. He prepares an accurate report on the inventory. But, the inventory numbers are contained in a colorful report which includes a description of different tires, a narration of an unusual encounter with a skunk and some personal impressions on working at Canadian Tires.

Consequently, the preparation of the report took several hours longer than necessary.  Including personal information in an inventory report interfered with the preparation of business report for the company.

Writing on demand requires students to go beyond the ability to ‘express themselves’. According to Leila Christenbury, professor of English education at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, writing on demand includes timed writing where attention is paid to correct writing as well as accurate content. She notes that teachers who teach writing on demand “have students practice using sample texts as prompts writing and checklists of items to be aware of as they write including organization, sentence variety, effective vocabulary, spelling, usage, and grammar.”


Sherry Swain, director of the Mississippi Writing/Thinking Institute at Mississippi State University , maintains that students should have a set of strategies that includes thinking through a topic, generating ideas, organizing them, and choosing what’s relevant.” The co-authors of Think More…Write More, Joan McCreath and Otto Toews have identified a set of thinking strategies and a set of writing strategies that students should know and be able to use to write expository text. This includes introducing students to basic formats for writing essays and reports. Sample texts are used to demonstrate how formats are used to organize text.

In short, if students received solid instruction in expository text structures, thinking and writing strategies, and the procedures of the writing process, they should be able to write on demand. Of course, they need to write frequently and receive feedback. In short, teaching the skills of ‘writing on demand’ challenges the assumption held by some educators that if students learn to express themselves they are ready to meet the writing demands of the workplace. There is more to writing than ‘expressing oneself’.

Template for a pro and con argument

  1. Introduction – Thesis

__________________________________________________________________

__________________________________________________________________

  1. Con Argument

__________________________________________________________________

__________________________________________________________________

  1. Pro Argument

__________________________________________________________________

__________________________________________________________________

  1. Weakest to strongest arguments

–       Weakest argument

_________________________________________________________________­_

__________________________________________________________________

–       Strongest argument

__________________________________________________________________

__________________________________________________________________

  1. Conclusion

___________________________________________________________________

___________________________________________________________________

Assignment

Writing Assignment: Pro and Con Argument

Write a paragraph in which you present a pro and con argument on a topic of your choice. Complete the template below to ensure that you have included all aspects of a pro and con argument. Submit it to your teacher or tutor for feedback. Then edit your paragraph based on the feedback you received.

Template for a pro and con argument

  1. Introduction – Thesis

__________________________________________________________________

__________________________________________________________________

  1. Con Argument

__________________________________________________________________

__________________________________________________________________

  1. Pro Argument

__________________________________________________________________

__________________________________________________________________

  1. Weakest to strongest arguments

–       Weakest argument

_________________________________________________________________­_

__________________________________________________________________

–       Strongest argument

__________________________________________________________________

__________________________________________________________________

  1. Conclusion

___________________________________________________________________

___________________________________________________________________

Answer Key

Pro and Con Argument

 

  • Introduction – Thesis

–       I advocate that teachers need to teach the skills of writing on demand without abandoning the writing process.

  • Con Argument

–       The research in support of teaching the writing process and encouraging students to express themselves is substantial. (Graves 1983, Murray 1985, Calkins 1986). Their main focus has been on encouraging students to write about what they know on topics of their interest.

  • Pro Argument

–       Writing on demand requires students to go beyond the ability to ‘express themselves’. According to Leila Christenbury, professor of English education at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, writing on demand includes timed writing where attention is paid to correct writing as well as accurate content.

–       Sherry Swain, director of the Mississippi Writing/Thinking Institute at Mississippi State University, maintains that students should have a set of strategies that includes thinking through a topic, generating ideas, organizing them, and choosing what’s relevant.”

–       The co-authors of Think More…Write More, Joan McCreath and Otto Toews have identified a set of thinking strategies and a set of writing strategies that students should know and be able to use to write expository text.

  • Weakest to strongest arguments

–       Weakest argument

First, it is excessively student centered in that students are free to write about topics of their choice. Hence, their writing tends to focus on personal narratives. This does not prepare them for writing on assigned topics within time limits.

 

personal writing experiences do not prepare students for writing essays or reports.

 

a student centered approach to writing does not prepare them for the workplace.

 

–       Strongest argument

writing on demand includes timed writing where attention is paid to correct writing as well as accurate content.

 

students should have a set of strategies that includes thinking through a topic, generating ideas, organizing them, and choosing what’s relevant

 

a set of thinking strategies and a set of writing strategies that students should know and be able to use to write expository text.

  • Conclusion

–       if students received solid instruction in expository text structures, thinking and writing strategies, and the procedures of the writing process, they should be able to write on demand.