Standardize the following arguments using the method presented in the preceding section.
1. Professor Jack W. Meiland, offering advice to new college students: There is one question which you should not ask, nor feel any temptation to ask, your instructor. That question is:“ Will this be on the exam?” This question infuriates many instructors, and rightly so. For this question indicates that your main interest is in getting through the course with a good grade rather than in learning what the instructor has to teach. It is insulting to the teacher who has worked hard to put you in a position to appreciate the material— its intrinsic interest, its subtlety, its complexity.
2. Douglas J. Futuyma on the limits of science: [Science seeks to explain only objective knowledge, knowledge that can be acquired independently by different investigators if they follow a prescribed course of observation or experiment. Many human experiences and concerns are not objective and so do not fall within the realm of science. As a result, science has nothing to say about aesthetics or morality. . . .The functioning of human society, then, clearly requires principles that stem from some source other than science.
3. From Chief Justice Earl Warren’s opinion in Brown v. Board of Education (1954): Today, education is perhaps the most important function of state and local governments. Compulsory school attendance laws and the great expenditures for education both demonstrate our recognition of the importance of education to our democratic society. It is required in the performance of our most basic public responsibilities, even service in the armed forces. It is the very foundation of good citizenship. Today it is a principal instrument in awakening the child to cultural values, in preparing him for later professional training, and in helping him to adjust normally to his environment. In these days, it is doubtful that any child may reasonably be expected to succeed in life if he is denied the opportunity of an education. Such an opportunity, where the state has undertaken to provide it, is a right which must be made available to all on equal terms.
4. Professor Vincent Ryan Ruggiero on teaching critical thinking to students of all ability levels: Thinking instruction in elementary and secondary education should not be limited to the honors program. Everyone needs thinking skills to meet the demands of career and citizenship. More important, everyone needs such skills to realize his or her potential as a human being. The highest of Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of human needs, self-actualization, is unachievable without the ability to think productively. Thus to deny meaningful instruction in thinking to students below a certain IQ or proficiency level is to deny them an essential part of their humanity Similarly, the constitutional guarantees of freedom to speak, to choose one’s own religion, and so on, lose much of their meaning when only some individuals are trained to evaluate and choose among competing views.
5. Management Professor James O’Toole on vocational education (slightly adapted): Consideration should be given to providing all students in the twelfth grade with some kind of work-and-study experience. This would help to overcome age segregation by allowing students to observe adults at work and, in doing so, to learn what it is like to work all day. It would give students the opportunity to overcome stereotypes about people who perform kinds of jobs different from their parents ’ .The jobs would enhance the meaning of schoolwork, because students would see how education actually contributes to workaday life. Young people would come to know better what they really like to do and what they are good at doing, and thus develop clearer career aspirations. Most important, the work experience could be used to make classroom discussions of social and economic institutions vivid and individually relevant.
6. From a newspaper call-in column: My opinion regarding the amount of home- work a child receives is basically threefold. I don’t believe the children should receive any homework whatsoever. One, because the teacher has seven or eight hours during the course of the school day to instruct children and do work assignments with them, to review material for tests. They do not need to be sending work home. To me, homework is an excuse for a teachers lack of ability to do their job properly. Two, there are too many children that come home with either no adult there or no adult with the ability to help them with their homework. That places too many children at a disadvantage compared to other children who have their parents there to help them with their homework. Three adult spends eight hours at work, comes home, and has the rest of the day to enjoy themselves. That is an luxury that a child should definitely be afforded. They don’t need to spend time after school. Teacher, it is time to wake up.
7. Theologian Thomas Aquinas on the greatest evil in life: It is impossible for any sorrow or pain to be man greatest evil. For all sorrow or pain is either for something that is truly evil, or for something that is apparently evil, but good in reality. Now pain or sorrow for that which is truly evil cannot be the greatest evil: for there is something worse, namely, either not to reckon as evil that which is really evil, or not to reject it. Again, sorrow or pain, for that which is apparently evil, but really good, cannot be the greatest evil, for it would be worse to be altogether separated from that which is truly good. Hence it is impossible for any sorrow or pain to be man’s greatest evil.
8. Educators Ann Flanagan and David Grissnier on improving lower-performing public schools: Besides disproportionately low spending and high numbers of disadvantaged students, there are several other reasons that urban, southern, and western school districts should receive the focus of policy attention. First, students in these areas constitute a growing proportion of U.S. students, and future productivity will depend on learning how to provide better education for them. Second, recent research suggests that the achievement scores of minority and disadvantaged students respond to additional well-targeted educational expenditures and that significant score gains could occur. Third, re- search also suggests that additional educational investment might be recouped through lower future social expenditures and improved economic productivity. Fourth, such policies would reduce the achievement gap between racial or ethnic and income groups — a source of continuing social and political divisions and economic costs in society. Finally, improving the United States’ international standing requires lifting the scores of these students.
9. From a newspaper editorial: The recent use of mail ballots in Oregon’s election of a U.S. senator has led some people to hail this as the wave of the future in our democratic republic.
We do not share that enthusiasm. V-7
The primary advantage of the mail ballot is that it requires little time and effort on the part of the voter. We think that also is a primary shortcoming of this process.
It is worth a little of both our time and our energy to exercise the right to vote, and that personal investment should serve to make us a bit more conscious of the value of that opportunity.
Another negative aspect for the electorate is that a mail election necessarily must take place over a relatively long time frame, rather than a single day that is the culmination of an election campaign process.
That means voters who cast their ballots near the end of the designated voting period might have a larger volume of information, and perhaps more accurate information, than those who vote early in the process.
We also are seriously concerned about the potential for voter fraud in elections conducted by mail. A state with Louisiana’s political history would be fertile ground for that.
Finally, we take note of one of the more ironic potential shortcomings of this procedure, and that is the very fact that this process involves using the mail, rather than a voting machine. Many of us, at one time or another, have sent or received mail that, through no fault of our own, did not arrive on time or was lost altogether. We would prefer not to risk having that happen to our ballots in any local, federal or state election.
10. Carmen F. Ambrosino on why drugs shouldn’t be legalized: I am hoping that you’re as fed up as I am with all this pro-legalization of drugs nonsense. It is offensive to those of us who have dedicated our lives to helping the addicted and their families.
Some people might say 1 have a self-serving reason for writing this article, because I work in the drug treatment and prevention/education field.
Well, consider this: If I was selfish, I’d say legalize drugs because, without doubt, all drug treatment professionals would have an abundance of work. Rather, we treatment professionals are dedicated to significantly reducing and eventually eliminating America s No. 1 health problem.
I would welcome the day when our drug problem will be so insignificant that there would no longer be a need for professional drug and alcohol treatment agencies.
With this said, let me set the record straight, because you won’t get the full picture from these pro— legalizing drug advocates.
Fact 1: Legalization advocates always use the argument that legalizing drugs will take the profit motive away from the street or clandestine manufacturers. They never tell you, however, that the economic cost of legal drugs is two and a half times greater than that of illicit drugs.
Additionally, these advocates never use the argument that legalization will reduce hospitalizations, crimes, car accidents, addicted babies, industrial accidents, family breakups, etc. The reason they don’t is, if the drugs were legalized, every one of these problems would worsen significantly.
Common sense should tell us when there are fewer controls, there will be more incidents.
For example, between 1972 and 1978, 11 states decriminalized marijuana, and marijuana use escalated to unprecedented levels.
Fact 2: Drug use is not a right and should never be. People who proclaim, “It’s my body, and I have a right to do with it what I want,” need to re-examine this native statement. Drug use not only impacts on the user, but has serious implications for families, community, consumers and others.
Legalizing drugs would open the floodgates of access to these mood-altering chemicals and would send a message that drugs are not harmful.
Think about flying to Disney World and having to depend on a pilot or an air-traffic controller who is high. Or having your child’s surgery being performed by a surgeon who has just ingested mood-altering chemicals.
Or entrusting your children to school bus drivers who fire up a joint of marijuana before their daily run…
Legalizing drugs is not a solution; in fact, it is a ridiculous option. It’s like saying our child abuse laws are not effective because abuse of children is escalating, therefore we should do away with these child protection laws.
Fact 3: If we still don’t believe that legalizing drugs will make the problems worse, then I would ask you to examine two of America’s favorite legal drugs: alcohol and nicotine. I don’t think much more needs to be said about the epidemic use of these two chemicals and the tremendous negative impact they have had on the physiological, social, psychological, economic and spiritual aspects of our lives.
By legalizing illicit drugs that are proven harmful, you’d better be ready to hire thousands of police officers, physicians, counselors and other medical personnel to respond to the human carnage.
Some could argue that I am very emotional when I write or lecture about this topic.
You bet I am.
When legalization proponents have seen 24 years of human misery in the form of suicide, homicides, overdoses, psychiatric institutionalizations, medical emergencies, etc., then you’ll qualify to be emotional as well.
I took a pledge in 1973 to use my God-given energies to help people to find the joys that come with living a drug-free life.
I am confident that our public will reject any effort that might be made by a small minority who has, unfortunately, chosen not to get all the facts before they talk.
If you want the facts, talk with recovering addicts and families who have lost their loved ones to a chemical that some want to legalize.
11. Gregory Bassham on why grades shouldn’t be based on effort: A recent study by Professor Ellen Greenberger and fellow researchers at the University of California, Irvine, found that a third of students surveyed said that they expected a B just for attending lectures, and 40 percent said they deserved a B for completing the required reading.
Jason Greenwood, a senior kinesiology major at the University of Maryland, would go even further.
“If you put in all the effort you have and get a C, what is the point?” Greenwood said/‘If someone goes to every class and reads every chapter in the book and does everything the teacher asks of them and more, then they should be getting an A like their effort deserves. . . .What else is there really than the effort that you put in?” (Quoted in Max Roosevelt, “Student Expectations Seen As Causing Grade Disputes,” New York Times, Feb. 18, 2009,A15).
What else is there other than effort? What about performance?
As a college professor, I have no problem basing grades partly on student effort. I regularly reward students who faithfully attend class, participate actively, and do all the assigned readings. Sometimes I even give extra credit for extra work.
I do this because I believe that qualities like hard work, discipline, and determination are critical to success in both college and in life, and so deserve to be rewarded. Also, effort is the one thing students can completely control. Everything else that factors into academic success — IQ, memory college preparedness, health, outside work and family commitments, etc.— is at least partly a matter of luck.
Nevertheless, most college professors— including myself— base grades much more on achievement than we do on effort. There are two good reasons for this.
First, there is no fair or objective way to measure effort in one academic work. When I hand a student a test, I have no idea if they have studied one hour for it or ten. If I gave out grades based on my perception of how much effort my students have expended, the grades would be wildly unfair and I would have to barricade myself in my office to ward off all the pleaders and complainers.
In fact, students who say they should get B s just for attending class aren’t claiming that grades should be based exclusively on effort. They’re saying that students who put in a minimum amount of effort should receive at least a decent grade. But this is a bad idea too.
It’s a bad idea because it defeats the two main reasons colleges give out grades at all. One is to allow students to assess their own learning— to determine if they are, in fact, learning what their professors are paid to teach them. The other is to let outside evaluators— notably employers and graduate admissions officers— know
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