20 August 2012
In the introduction to “They Say/ I Say”: the Moves That Matter in Academic Writing, Gerald Graff and Cathy Birkenstein provide templates designed to help with academic thinking and writing. Specifically, Graff and Birkenstein argue that the types of writing templates they offer realistically help set up a conversation and argument. As the authors themselves put it, “In our view, then, the best academic writing has one underlying feature: it is deeply engaged in some way with other people's views.” Although some people believe to sound intelligent you must state your claim and provide facts on why your claim is true, Graff and Birkenstein insist that to “play it safe and avoid controversy in your writing” is lifeless. In sum, then, their view is that if you are going to write, write to stir controversy and cause discussion, along with giving the basics to master good academic writing. I agree, in my view, the types of templates that the authors recommend invite people to start conversation and learn different points of views as well as teaching others, and the templates themselves gives people the opportunity to hone the skills of academic writing. For instance, when using the template for writing they get us to include the opposition’s possible belief or rebuttal to our own points, which in return force us as the writer to look beyond just our thoughts and look through other’s eyes. Some might object, of course, on the grounds that our creativity when using templates would be greatly diminished. Yet I would argue that the templates simply give us a cornerstone to start with, and we can build our paper off of it as creative as we want. Overall, then, I believe the templates simply help us practice to become better writers much like practicing sports when you first begin playing, to become the best we can be.
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