Why Arguing isn’t (shouldn’t be) Yelling

Star Wars is by far the greatest modern day mythology since Homer’s The Iliad or Dante’s Inferno or Zeus. A very close second would be The Lord of the Rings (sorry Tolkien).

The absolute best ice cream imaginable is vanilla, or more specifically, vanilla bean.

Apple hardware/software products are far and away more superior than anything that any other Pee Cee company could ever produce. Especially Windoze (I say as I’m typing on a Windoze machine)!

Now if you were so inclined, you could completely yell and rage and throw chairs at me (Geraldo Rivera anyone?) about these (perceived) outrageous claims that I’ve made above, or, and perhaps the better response, you could engage with me on the claims that I’ve made and we could have ourselves and impassioned yet civil debate/discourse.

Debate, Argument, Claim, Support, Refute, Rebut, Ethos, Pathos, Logos, Etc

Until last year, for me anyway, reading well and writing well were the end-all be-all pillars in my class. Regardless of the standards-flavor-of-the-day, my students read a lot and wrote a lot. After my blog-reading-soul-searching days last summer, I have incorporated a third pillar into my class pantheon. And that is argument. Argument is the vehicle in which all of my lessons and units will ride this year. Argument will inform our reading and writing, and our reading and writing will inform argument. Argument will be either the basis for or the outcome of nearly everything we do in class this coming year (I haven’t forgotten narrative, I promise).

Argument carries with it many beneficial skills and strategies that, when learned and practiced and honed, will provide my/our students with necessary, important tools to engage the world and culture around them. Skills and strategies that are most noticeably lacking in today’s teens. Don’t want to believe it? Try reading posts on any social media platform out there, and then come back and tell me that they know how to state a claim, support a claim, rebut an attack against their claim, or even refute someone else’s claim.

Not only will argument help them to become better thinkers, writers, and readers, I believe it will help them to become better speakers as well. Mostly because I will force them to speak in my classroom daily within varying audience sizes; table partners, face partners, in their quads, and in front of the class. Have you talked with a teen on the phone recently? Probably not, probably, like me, not even with your own kids. Everything is text, everything is thumb talk, without having to actually verbalize anything. How awful it must be to have to actually answer a phone call out in public where other people might hear you. I shudder to think.

Anyway, argument will be front and center, dare I say, at The Core, of my class, my teaching, my lessons, my units, and my students’ lives 50 minutes at a time. Hopefully I articulated why I am adding Argument in my class; if not, feel free to ask questions in the comments below. In the next few posts, I will cover what I will be doing to incorporate argument into all those areas.

May the force be with you,



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