Introduction to the Junior Theme
A major goal of AP English III is to teach students to think about contemporary issues, analyze other people’s opinions about those issues, and express their own ideas in ways that are clear and convincing. Last semester’s work on argumentation gave you some of the basic skills for this. Now you need to refine those skills and focus them on a single contemporary issue that interests you. We’ll use a previous AP essay as a model for your junior theme. Essay 2 on the 2004 exam asked the following question:
Contemporary life is marked by controversy. Choose a controversial local, national, or global issue with which you are familiar. Then, using appropriate evidence, write an essay that carefully considers the opposing positions on this controversy and proposes a solution or compromise.
As the essay prompt says, the first step is to choose a controversial issue. Choose carefully! This means two things. On the one hand, pick something that you’re interested in so you’ll be motivated to give the paper the time and energy it needs. On the other hand, avoid topics that you can’t think about objectively. For example, if you are deeply upset by the fact that stylists charge more to cut women’s hair than they do to cut men’s hair, you may not be able to consider both sides objectively. So pick something else. Attached you will find some options on controversial topics. You may choose out of those, or come up with something on your own. You need to list three choices in case your first choice is not approved. Your choice may not be approved because A) it is inappropriate for research or B) it is already taken. ONLY ONE STUDENT FROM EACH CLASS WILL BE PERMITTED TO WORK ON A TOPIC.
After exploring these topics, list 3 that you think you might want to use for your junior theme, then sign the statement & return to me:
I understand that the Junior Theme will encompass several grades and that if I choose not to do all or part of this assignment I will likely fail this class for the six weeks and/or semester. I further understand that the due dates listed in this packet are firm and that, while the standard “late grade” policy will apply (except on the final paper), the “make-up work” 1 week grace period will not since I have received the due dates in advance. I also acknowledge that I understand what plagiarism is and that if I use ANY source without proper attribution I will receive a zero for both parts of the final paper.
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Name Signature Date
Named after Carl Rogers, one of America’s most important psychologists, Rogerian argument is different from debate or courtroom-style argument. In a debate or in a legal trial, the goal of each side in the argument is to defeat the opponent, to prove that their own position is right and that the other is wrong. But Rogerian argument is not nearly so oppositional; its goal is not victory, but progress in solving real-world problems. The goal is not to defeat the opponent, but to understand him and to work with him to resolve conflicts in ways that satisfy both parties. A Rogerian argument has the following parts:
A brief and objectively phrased statement that defines the issue.
A complete and neutrally worded analysis of the other side’s position using language that they themselves would accept. You must avoid the “straw man” fallacy whereby you set up the weakest form of your opponent’s position so that you can easily knock it down. Watch your wording; consider the difference between:
1 Calling something a “menace” or a “concern”
2 Saying “throw into jail” or “incarcerate”
3 Trying “to teach someone a lesson” or trying “to make someone aware of the consequences...
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