ENGLISH 1A DIRECTED LEARNING ACTIVITY OPPOSING VIEWPOINTS: COUNTERARGUMENTS STUDENT LEARNING OUTCOMES In English 1A and other classes, you will be writing argumentative essays. Considering the view of those who disagree with you is an essential part of argumentation, verbal or written. This activity is designed to help you identify opposing views and their counterarguments, incorporate opposing views into your argument, and create and evaluate responses to counterarguments by acknowledging and refuting IDENTIFYING OPPOSING VIEWS In everyday life, you may come across people you disagree with. How do you deal with disagreements effectively? The following phone conversation illustrates how an argument between friends might be handled. John: Let’s go to Burger Blast for dinner. They make the best burgers in town. The juicy patty is 100% real beef, no fillers, the buns baked fresh every day, not to mention crispy lettuce, juicy tomatoes, and their own special sauce. Yum, yum! Mike: We should not be eating burgers because they’re delicious. Burgers are really bad for you. The beef is high in fat; that’s why it’s juicy, and it’s loaded with antibiotics and hormones. The bun is empty calories, mostly processed bleached flour, and the sauce is major saturated fats. John: Wow, you really know your foods. I’m impressed, and I agree with you that we need to take care of ourselves and eat healthy foods. I do, plus I exercise. . . but an occasional treat is not going to kill me or ruin my health. I indulge in a burger once a month, that’s it. Hey, if you change your mind, call me. You can order yours protein style, no bun, no sauce, just veggies. Answer the questions, typing your answers in the parentheses. How does John support his argument that Burger Blast makes the best burgers in town? ( ) Mike disagrees with John and argues that they should not eat burgers. What reasons does Mike give to support his opposition to eating burgers? ( ) Explain how well John responds to Mike’s objections to eating burgers. ( ) Academic argumentation is similar to effectively handling personal disagreements in some respects while different in others. As you read following essay, notice how making an academic argument is similar to but different than handling a personal disagreement. Cell Phones: Educational Tool or Distraction Cell phones support classroom learning in a variety of ways. Using a cell phone camera, students can take pictures of the instructor’s dry erase board notes or PowerPoint slides. Taking a picture not only is a convenient way to take notes, but also ensures that students have accurate information. Another useful cell phone feature is the ability to record short videos. Biology instructors can give students valuable feedback on using the scientific method if students are allowed to film and share videos of their experiments. In a large class, instructors may not be able to observe all small group experiments from beginning to end, but having a video gives them that opportunity. Some cell phone applications even allow students to record lectures. This feature is especially effective for students who learn best by listening to information rather than writing it down. Having the luxury of being able to replay a lecture also helps these students remember information. Used properly, cell phones can greatly enrich the classroom learning experience. The main complaint from instructors about allowing cellphones in class is that they can distract students from learning. Social media, texts, and the Internet all compete with the instructor for the student’s attention. There’s always that student who instead of listening to the lecture or participating in the discussion is leaning back in his or her seat with both hands under the desk and texting madly. A student who is distracted by his or her cell phone is missing out on important classroom learning experiences and runs the risk of failing the class. Cell phone use by even one student can also distract other students, interfere with their learning, and interrupt the instructor’s lesson. While cell phones can disrupt learning by distracting students, instructors can minimize that problem by discussing cell phone etiquette and setting expectations for cell phone use in their classrooms. At the beginning of the semester, instructors should have a candid discussion with their students to set ground rules for cell phone use in the classroom. That conversation might include when and how students will be using cell phones as well as the importance of being attentive during class. In addition, instructors can provide incentives for student engagement by giving a participation grade. Students who use cells phones for classroom learning would receive points while students whose cell phone use distracts them or others from learning would lose points. How is making an academic argument similar to handling a personal disagreement? Use examples from the essay and the Burger Blast conversation to support your answer. ( ) How is making an academic argument different than handling a personal disagreement? Use examples from the essay and the Burger Blast conversation to support your answer. ( ) INCORPORATING OPPOSING VIEWS There are two sides to every story. When you present an argument (verbal or written), you take a position on a subject or issue. Some will agree with you while others will disagree. That is what makes an argument, the two sides. In an argumentative essay, you present your position in your thesis statement and support it with compelling evidence and explanation in your body paragraphs. However, that is not enough; you must also present the opposing view, the view of those who disagree with you, and then respond to their counterarguments, the arguments they make against your argument. Why Present the Opposing View? When you present an opposing viewpoint, you establish credibility with your reader by showing that you have examined both sides of the argument before finalizing your position. When you research and learn about other points of view, you should select one or more opposing viewpoints to present, depending upon the length and complexity of your argumentative essay. Presenting the Opposing View or Counterargument Identify the opposing party when you introduce an opposing viewpoint. This signals the reader that you are presenting the other side. Then present the opposition’s point, the counterargument. After presenting the counterargument, you can respond to it in one of the following ways: Refutation To refute a point is to show what is wrong with the counterargument. It may be invalid, inaccurate, or irrelevant. The following is an example of refutation. Argument: Contrary to popular belief, children who play violent video games are no more likely to commit violent crimes than children who do not play them. Indeed, other more important factors predict whether or not children will commit violent crimes. Counterargument: Some psychologists argue that children who have committed violent crimes may have been influenced by violence in video games. Refutation: Currently there is not enough research to support the link between playing violent video games and committing violent crimes. Acknowledgement Then Refutation First, acknowledge the valid points of the opposition’s argument. After acknowledging those points, refute the opposition’s invalid points by showing insufficiency or gaps. The following is an example of acknowledgement then refutation. Argument: Contrary to popular belief, children who play violent video games are no more likely to commit violent crimes than children who do not play them. Indeed, other more important factors predict whether or not children will commit violent crimes. Counterargument: Some psychologists argue that children who have committed violent crimes may have been influenced by violence in video games. Acknowledgement: It is true that some children who have committed violent crimes played violent video games, and some even claimed to have been influenced by such games. Refutation: However, further investigation has shown that there were other contributing factors, including unstable home lives, child abuse, and poverty. What are the advantages of including the opposing viewpoint in an argumentative essay? ( ) How can you make it clear to the reader that you are introducing an opposing viewpoint? ( ) Why would a writer decide to acknowledge then refute a counterargument instead of just refuting it? ( ) CREATING AND EVALUATING RESPONSES TO COUNTERARGUMENTS After reading the following argument, give the counterargument and respond to it by using refutation and acknowledgement then refutation. Complete the following refutation: Argument: To create an educated workforce that can meet the increasing demand for entry level jobs in California, community college should be tuition free. Counterargument: ( ) Refutation: ( ) Examine your response to the counterargument from the perspective of the opposition. How might the opposition respond to your refutation? ( ) Complete the following acknowledgement then refutation: Argument: To create an educated workforce that can meet the increasing demand for entry level jobs in California, community college should be tuition free. Counterargument: ( ) Acknowledgement: ( ) Refutation: ( ) Examine your response to the counterargument from the perspective of the opposition. How might the opposition respond to your acknowledgement and refutation?
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