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Lesson One:
Tackling the Question
 
Lesson Two:
Brainstorming a Topic

 
Lesson Three:
Structure and Outline

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Lesson Four:

Style and Tone
Lesson Five:
Intros and Conclusions
Lesson Six:
Editing and Revising

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Lesson Three: Example Sample Essay

SAMPLE ESSAY 1: Carnegie-Mellon, current affairs: Middle East debate

A Greek philosopher once said, "In argument, truth is born." Even though sometimes feelings and emotions come into play that confuse the issue at hand, usually an argument results in a new insight on the subject. Even if a person holds strong views that are unshaken by anything his adversary may say, he may nevertheless gain from the debate. It forces him to organize and analyze his views, leaving him with a clearer understanding of the subject than before. Further, his opponent’s arguments help him better appreciate his views and their differences. Finally, the argument forces both to look inwards, at their character and value system.

For these reasons, I enjoy debating issues that are important to me and about which I hold strong views. One such issue receiving great national attention is the Middle East peace process. While the peace process has always been important to the American community as a whole, and more specifically to the Jewish American community, the assassination of Israel Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin has focused the spotlight upon it, as well as intensified the debate around it. Since I attend a private Jewish school, I often discuss this topic with my peers, often finding myself in the minority. Most of them support the peace process, while I adhere to the views of the Likud (opposition) party, which opposes the peace process.

Complicating the issue are several emotional stigmas that are often attached to it, transforming the discussion from an objective one to one driven by passion. The foremost of these stigmas is the accusation, which is often hurled at the opponents of the peace process, of promoting war and violence. Often made by people who know little about the issue, this view fails to realize that opposition to the peace process does not imply opposition of peace. Rather, it implies disapproval of certain tactics and specifics of the peace process as it was carried out by Rabin.

Another commonly advanced accusation against American Jews who disagree with the peace process centers around the question of whether they have the right to influence Israeli policy. "You don’t have to send your children to the Army," it is said, "your children don’t die in wars. What right have you to oppose peace?!" The fallacy of this argument is that it doesn’t differentiate between belief and action. While it is true, for precisely the reasons above, that American Jews have no right to try to influence Israeli policy, that does not preclude them from having ideas of what that policy should be.

Finally, the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin has introduced yet another dimension into this debate. In its aftermath, opposing the peace process sometimes is identified with condoning the assassination itself. Such an identification of the man and his beliefs involves grave dangers, such as rashly implementing his ideas in a flurry of compassion and commiseration.

What all of these stigmas have in common is that they forsake logical and objective debate, opting rather for emotions, generalizations and accusations. And the dangers of that happening are the main lesson I learned from my debates. While those debates have shed new light on the issue and have forced me to reconsider what I think is moral and just, most importantly they have demonstrated the necessity of objectiveness and removal of emotions from the discussion, especially when, as in the case of the peace process, thousands of lives are at stake. When passions and hatred take over, we must stop and think of what it all is really about.

COMMENTS:

The social concerns or ethics essay is notoriously difficult to write. This essayist tackles it well with solid arguments, clear thinking, and good structure. The main suggestion for improvement came from one officer who felt that the statements made in the first paragraph were too broad and lofty for a college essay.

Very clear headed.

This student put time and energy into this essay and it shows in the writing style, the flow of discourse and the conclusions that the writer comes to in the end. It is a well thought out essay with depth and focus.

This essay is well written, and brings out an interesting point of view, one of which I had not been aware until now. This author grasps the subtleties of a difficult political position. I think he would be an interesting person to know, and would certainly make people think, both in class and in discussions outside of academics.

The argument in the essay is logical and substantiated with solid examples, making it an effective representation of the student’s thought and writing style while revealing the student’s personal opinions on the Middle East peace process.

 

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