Essay 1: Argument

PROMPT:

Twenty years ago, Dr. Field, a noted anthropologist, visited the island of Tertia. Using an observation-centered approach to studying Tertian culture, he concluded from his observations that children in Tertia were reared by an entire village rather than by their own biological parents. Recently another anthropologist, Dr. Karp, visited the group of islands that includes Tertia and used the interview-centered method to study child-rearing practices. In the interviews that Dr. Karp conducted with children living in this group of islands, the children spent much more time talking about their biological parents than about other adults in the village. Dr. Karp decided that Dr. Field's conclusion about Tertian village culture must be invalid. Some anthropologists recommend that to obtain accurate information on Tertian child-rearing practices, future research on the subject should be conducted via the interview-centered method.
Write a response in which you discuss what questions would need to be answered in order to decide whether the recommendation and the argument on which it is based are reasonable. Be sure to explain how the answers to these questions would help to evaluate the recommendation.

Essay:

There are many different ways and views on how a family should raise a child. The common phrase “it take a village to raise a child” comes to mind when comparing the benefits of community based child rearing, and nuclear family based child rearing. Dr. Karp addresses these in his quote, where he attacks another doctor’s work. The argument falls flat because it assumes that children talking about their parents means they are parented by them more, that the opposing study is directly relatable to his, and that his one study completely makes another study irrelevant.

The first part of the argument that falls short is that because the children spend the most time talking about their parents, they must feel the most connected to their parents, and feel like they are being raised more by their parents. The author does not expand at all about in what manner the children were talking about their parents. For example, the children may have been talking about how they feel like they spend too much time with their parents compared to another set of adults in the tribe that they feel more connected to. Perhaps the children feel like they can learn more about daily life and maturity by different elders in the tribe other than their parents, and they spent most of the interview complaining about their parents. This devastatingly weakens the argument because though the children were speaking about their parents more than they were speaking of anyone else, they may have spent most of their time saying they do not feel most connected to their parents. It also weakens the argument because if the children are talking about how they want to leave their parents, it means that they wish to be, or already are being raised by different elders in the community. The argument fails to provide any extra insight other than “the children spend more time talking about their parents”. One way to strengthen this argument would to use a statistic of how many children wished they spent more time or was raised more directly by their biological parents. However, it still would fall short because that does not guarantee that most children desire to spend more time with their biological parents.

Another way that the argument falls flat is that not enough information about the previous study done by Dr. Fields. The author fails to provide sufficient information detailing the processes and the findings of the previous study. An example of how this undermines the author’s argument is that the author does not say when the previous study was done. This study could have been done at any point in time, from one year ago to one hundred years ago - there is simply no way that the reader is able to tell. If the study was done many years ago, then there is absolutely no guarantee that the culture within the tribe is the same as it was before. For example, perhaps the culture in the tribe has shifted to a more individualistic nuclear family approach, where the biological mother and the father start to take more and more care of their offspring. The author does not include any of this information, making it absolutely impossible to draw any conclusions about the validity of his claims. One way to strengthen his argument was to include the date of when Dr. Field’s study was done, as well as expound on when the author’s own study was done more than “recently”, in order to show that the two studies were comparable. This still, however, does not make the study bulletproof because no matter how much time has passed between the two studies, there is always a chance that the tribes have changed or shifted their viewpoints.

Lastly, the study claims that because of the conclusions he’s drawn from his own study, which have already been rather baseless, the results of the opposing study are completely irrelevant. This is an incredibly strong claim with almost no sufficient evidence - other than his faulty conclusions he’s already drawn - to back his claim up. For example, even if his own study did completely and utterly shut out every conclusion the previous study has made, one study is not sufficient evidence. Perhaps there are another twenty studies that show that the living within the tribe has become even more community based that the author has not touched on. That would be more than enough evidence to shut the author’s work down. There is simply no way of knowing based on what the authors work. The only way he could have strengthened his argument is include more opposing views in his study, and address them separately. However, it would still be rather weak because of the assumptions he is basing his argument on.

This argument falls flat on many cases - that children talking about their parents means they are parented by them more, that there is almost no information about the other study, and that one study completely makes another irrelevant.


Essay 2: Issue

Prompt:

"The best way to teach-whether as an educator, employer, or parent-is to praise positive actions and ignore negative ones."

Essay:

Teaching someone how to improve, or how to live their lives is a very delicate, involved task. There are many philosophies and many different viewpoints on what is the most efficient way to teach a pupil. An example of these philosophies is that one should always praise a student or child’s good actions, and simply ignore the negative actions. It is imprudent to only praise good actions and ignore bad actions: to effectively teach, one must criticise bad actions as well.

The first reason why that it is ineffective to only praise good actions is that the pupil will never directly learn what is clearly harmful. If a teacher or a parent only praises good actions and ignores the bad actions, the child may not directly realize that the action he is taking is bad in the long run. For example, imagine a teenager within a family that abides by the “ignore bad actions” argument. Perhaps the teenager decides to pick up smoking cigarettes, an overtly harmful activity. If his or her parents notice that he is partaking in an unhealthy activity and sticks to their philosophy of ignoring it, the teenager may think that the parents simply have no opinion on it, or do not care, and present no opposition towards it. This may lead to him smoking more and taking up more bad habits, strictly because he never learned what is directly and clearly bad because his parents never taught him.

Similarly, the philosophy of never criticizing the pupil is not uniform in all real-world environments. All teachers do not go by this philosophy, so when the pupil finds himself in a new situation, he might be confused as to what he is doing correctly, or if he is doing anything correctly at all. For example, say that the pupil receives his first job, and is looking for praise whenever he does something right. His boss, however, may not praise everything correct that the pupil does if he does not teach by the only-praise philosophy. The employee may find himself not doing what he is supposed to be doing at his job, simply because he was never praised for doing it in the first place. This may cause complications with his job that can be very harmful to his career. If he continues to not do the correct thing at his job, he might end up getting fired, which would limit his opportunities in the future, all because he was never capable of learning what was correct in the first place.

The view that only praising the good decisions is not baseless, however. There are a select few times where this point of view is valid. One way that this view may be beneficial is that if a teacher always praises the good decisions, then the pupil will perhaps be more eager to seek out what a good decision is. For example, say that there is a math tutor teaching a struggling algebra student, and every time the student does something correctly or gets a question right the tutor will give him a small reward or praise. The student may be more motivated to do more practice questions and seek out every reason as to why he got a question correct in order to receive more rewards and more praise in the future. This would be a very effective teaching strategy because he will start to truly understand why he got a certain question correct or incorrect, because he wants to strongly ensure that he will get a similar question right the next time he encounters it to obtain the reward.

In order to effectively and efficiently teach someone, it is wise to not only praise the beneficial actions, but to criticize the negative actions. Perhaps only praising the beneficial actions, while it may have good intentions, is only harmful in the long run.




Thank you so much!!! Let me know if there's anything I can improve on. I did the automated grading, but I don't really trust it so I would like to see what I can improve on. Thanks!