Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Fish Food For Thought: A Study of Argument

Stanley fish has wrote yet another article (published back in '09) about what should colleges teach.  This is a great and good article (*high fives Fish*), but what it's really missing is ARGUMENT!  If anyone asks me, argument needs to be taught right from the start.
High fiving Fish

The thing about argument is that very few people actually know the academic side of argument.   People tend to associate argument with anger and hurt feelings, and fail to realize that it is arguing a point in a mature, though out manner.  Thats why nobody feels it should be taught at the top of the list, EVERYBODY THINKS IT'S BAD UNLESS THEY ARE EDUCATED (which a vast majority of people aren't).  

Argument allows us to narrow in on clear reasoning, which will allow you to remove the drama out of a debate once you have removed all extraneous details from a work.  One such example of drama in a debate is the start of the 2016 republican primary debates when Donald Trump would insult every single delegate, that is incorrect usage of argument.   Argument also will help students after they obtain their education, it enables them to evaluate and think for themselves what choices will lead to the most success in the future.  You can view my source here.

Probably making fun of someone
Some people are just naturally argumentative, a quote from the late artist, Prince, will allow one to see, "I like to argue".  There are going to be those people that don't remove pathos from a debate, but if educated, anyone could do it.

With proper use of academic argumentation, you can have a higher level of ethos (credibility), when you have all your facts in a row and have researched your points, you are, in essence, an "expert" in your field of work, study, etc.  Those around you will want to believe more readily, when you have a clear, concise, organized, factual argument.  Just ask your self,:If there was someone on the street (it's a long shot, I realize that) preaching about some scientific break through and they said the conducted the study, most people would be more apt to get behind the person.

I understand that little exercise is the exact opposite of what I trying to argue--I used pathos, borderline bathos--but it got the point across and made you think.   Which is one of the items I want you to see and understand:  Think for yourself, examine evidence, be smart.

Students are underprepared for the rigors of High School and later down the road, college.  Teaching argument should be a priority (refer to the article I hyperlinked above) from first grade and beyond.  Granted first graders are still learn how to writer a sentence and not take naps halfway through the day, but the concept of arguing to settle a dispute in a mature, adult like fashion should be implemented at a young age.  As the student grows and progresses, argument should be more second nature and not something that an individual needs to struggle with, so by time college rolls around, there will be an influx of students who know and understand how to write a 'college level' paper.  Perhaps if we can raise a new generation of intellects, AP classes will be the average class and the average class will become the more remedial class.   faculty at schools will recieve calls and emails, Why is the curriculum so dang hard?!?"  But that is an issue we can fight in the future.
Future Parents: "Why u teach so tough??"

There are those that scoff at the idea of teaching the fine art of argument at such a young age with the idea of children being irrational and too emotional to comprehend a mature, rational debate.  Although the opposition is present in the subject, the allies to the cause remain dominant.  5 year olds are starting to be taught the basic debates such as, "what's your favorite dinosaur?"  While this is not very thought provoking, a second question is posed, "why?", this is the one that really gets 'em, they have to think how to back their opinions. 

With all this being said, it is hard to deny the importance of argument in academics, and it's importance of being taught at a young age.

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