Argument – the Core of the Common Core – and a clarifying example

If there’s one thing adult education students NEED to know about the new 2014 High School Equivalency Tests, it’s this: You have to evaluate and support ARGUMENTS based on evidence, not just explain your OPINION! I love writing for personal expression and think it should still be a part of our curricula, but there’s more to writing than the five paragraph essay. With his usual clarity, Grant Wiggins explains why argument wins…

Granted, and...

The Common Core Standards make crystal clear that college and professional workplace readiness demand student ability to read and write arguments. Indeed, while identifying the three genres of writing in the Anchor Standards, Appendix A stresses the priority of argument:

While all three text types are important, the Standards put particular emphasis on students’ ability to write sound arguments on substantive topics and issues, as this ability is critical to college and career readiness.

What many educators do not fully understand, however, is that the Standards define argument in the narrower sense found in logic rather than in the colloquial sense. Although many people think that an argument is a one-sided attempt at persuading somebody of something, using whatever rhetorical tricks they can muster, an academic argument is more like a scientific paper that aims at understanding not one-ups-manship:

English and education professor Gerald Graff (2003) writes that “argument literacy” is fundamental to being educated. The…

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