Thursday, November 29, 2012

Teaching with E-portfolios

Here are the pages I worked up in Mahara for today's UWP teaching with technology roundtable.

You can also find the link on Twitter if you search #UWPTwT
Hope things go well.

Monday, November 05, 2012

Why Teach the Argument?


If politicians can gain by misrepresenting the facts, if people in finance can make millions by omitting key facts about investment opportunities, if manufacturers can dominate a market by hiding forced labor conditions, if these and other examples of evidence abused are true, then why should I focus so closely on the ethical use of evidence in a writing class?

In my writing course this quarter, we are finishing up the unit on argument and evidence. Everyone in the class picked an Oxford style debate to listen to. Now they are writing up a position paper intended to inform a continued user-generated online debate. We discussed the form and function of formal modes of debate. We also read about the etiquette and ethics of argumentation.

So on the eve of an election, I asked them if the rules of argument we've discussed in class are used to guide arguments in high profile settings like presidential campaigns.

I wasn't surprised to hear an overwhelming 'no,' but I was more interested in the answers to the next question: If we don't see quality arguments in high profile settings, then what is the advantage to learning how to produce a quality argument?

My students gave some thoughtful responses, but I'd like to throw this question out there.

With legislators suggesting that critical thinking is not a skill worth teaching in public schools, I think it would be worth it to hear a strong defense of defensible arguments.

So, why should we teach argument?