Not Just Read And Write But Right

Not Just Read And Write, But Right And Wrong Essay, Research Paper

Writing Style of Kathleen Kennedy Townsend in Not Just Read and Write, but Right and Wrong. Found in Elements of Argument by Annette T. Rottenberg, there is an essay entitled Not Just Read and Write, but Right and Wrong by Kathleen Kennedy Townsend. Ms. Townsend is passionate about her subject and gives good examples to prove her thesis, but there are many points she makes, and examples she uses that devalue the essay. Ms. Townsend starts off with an example. This example is a good one, but shouldn’t be used in the first paragraph. This is misleading, and gives a false picture of what the essay is going to be about. The example is of a high school student’s idea of making quick money. The student claims that by selling drugs a person could make in one afternoon what someone would make by working a whole week at McDonald’s. From reading this in the first paragraph the reading would think this entire paper was going to be devoted to drugs in schools. Also in the first paragraph the author uses first person and continues to do so throughout the essay. This is a technique that is regarded against in formal essay writing. This informal use of the word “you” and “I” and “me,” could be replaced with more formal words such as “the above” or “some.” In the next paragraph the author states a very poor example. Examples are a very good way to argue a point because everyone can relate to examples, but this one is weak. The author cites that she has walked into “countless high schools” and seen trash in the halls. She then makes the claim that this is because students have poor morals and this is because the schools aren’t teaching them values. This is also making a generalization about all students; it’s saying that every student litters and that no teacher ever corrects the students for doing so. After that the author proceeds to state the opposition, which is a good thing claims Rottenberg, the author of Elements of Argument, but Townsend doesn’t go into enough detail. The paragraph itself is only two sentences long, and doesn’t devote enough time to showing how some students use moral judgement. This can be taken as bias or even just neglect. The author either doesn’t want to go into detail about the opposition because her arguments are not strong enough, or she is just so biased that she overlooks the fact that there are students out there that pick up trash in the halls, and work hard for their money. The fourth paragraph shows statistics, which is another good way to argue a point, but the statistic she uses lacks credibility. There are millions of people in America and to only survey 1,000 is miniscule. Another problem with this statistic is that the survey was conducted on the “People for the American Way,” but who is that? Would the average reader know who the “People for the American Way” is? The author needs to give a brief summary of who this group is to show how important they are to this argument. Finally in the fifth paragraph the author gives a clear, concise thesis of what she is arguing. Her thesis is that young people “fail to perceive a need to reciprocate by exercising the duties and responsibilities of good citizenship.” This is a good these, but it should come sooner in the paper. After giving the thesis Townsend goes into the heart of her paper. She separates her different ideas with subtitles, which is a different technique, but the first paragraph shows bias, and uses name-dropping. The author also uses the term “me-ism;” which is a vague term. This term needs to be defined, as it seems to be a term the author made up. The next paragraph shows some more good examples, but the paragraph after that is extremely poor. It is only one full sentence in length and tells briefly about a curriculum workshop that the author ran. For one, who is the author to claim her workshop is comparative to the entire nation’s opinion. Secondly, how many people participated in this workshop? Is the number of people involved a large enough percentage of the population of our nation to say it’s a consensus of high school students? The author then gives more evidence of her point in the next couple of paragraphs. Then in paragraph twelve the author uses a good piece of support. She states that in an education summit presided over by George Bush the meeting was dominated by talk of federal funding and drug education. She then states that “the underlying valuelessness of American education – an obstacle to the intelligent use of scarce resources and a root cause of drug problems – really didn’t come up.” The idea that morals and values determine drug use strikes one as a good point. This seems to be one of the author’s most valid points in the entire argument. Townsend tries to use comparative statistics in paragraph fifteen, but the information it is dealing with doesn’t say much. What does alcohol consumption have to do with morals and values? Who’s to say someone who is an avid drinker can’t be an outstanding member of the community? Paragraph seventeen is another great paragraph in Townsend’s essay, but placement of it is off. With more thought to the structure of the essay one might have used this paragraph as the central focus of the entire paper. Each one of the terms in this paragraph could be defined and shown how if taught in schools the value of American society will be improved. The only problem with these examples Townsend uses is the ides of “universal values of right and wrong.” How could this be defined? What one would find to be right in his eyes could very well be wrong in another’s eyes. The author’s last paragraph uses another good example. This is one everyone can relate to. The point of the author’s daughter getting spit on by some of the boys on her soccer team and the coach not doing anything is a good example of morals of right and wrong not being enforced. The only other thing the author did really well was to pick out a clever title. It summarizes the paper after the reader is finished reading and looks at the title one more time. This essay has potential in it, but the format could be changed around a bit. The author’s passion for the subject gives the paper life, but the examples need to be construed better, and the essay needs to be written with a more formal tone. There were some good points to the topic, such as reference to the root of the problems we see today stemming from lack of instilled values, but the negatives of this essay writing out-weigh the positives.

Townsend, Kathleen Kennedy. “Not Just Read and Write, but Right and Wrong.” Elements of Argument (1997) : 164-67.Rottenberg, Annette T. Elements of Argument. Boston, Massachusetts: Bedford Books, 1997.


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