Writings

Deconstructing “The Money” (W1)

In his essay, “The Money,” Junot Diaz shares a brief story about a time when his home in New Jersey was burglarized. Expecting to read an article about corruption in Washington or something similar, I was pleasantly surprised to be greeted with an anecdote about the values and quick thinking of a twelve-year-old after his return from a family road trip.

Upon opening the link, my initial expectation was immediately ruled out by the photo presented before the text, and was replaced by the belief that the passage to come would involve a thief snatching a purse from a woman. The image certainly played a large role in guiding my understanding of the passage.

As expected, Diaz’s account contained the basic elements of a story: exposition, climax, resolution, etc. The only unexpected elements I encountered were the slang and vulgarity Diaz employed throughout the piece; since his essay was published by a major publication, my conventional “ass” wasn’t expecting to read some of the words I did.

Diaz does not seem to have a specific target for this piece, other than the readers of the New Yorker. It can be argued that this piece was written to inform the non-Dominican demographic about Dominican values: loyalty and integrity. Similarly, it would not be unreasonable to assume that Diaz wrote this essay simply to entertain anyone who came across it. Regardless of Diaz’s intent, the essay contained numerous effective elements of both a culturally informative piece and an entertaining narrative.

Midway through the essay, it is evident that Diaz’s morality is far more developed than his peers and those in his neighborhood. This is proven by his inability to even look at the “forbidden stash.” Of course, this may have been added to the essay by Diaz to attempt to seduce his readers into believing his righteousness; however, since there doesn’t seem to be a clear objective for him writing this piece, I will assume that the elements to Diaz’s story are factual.

Term Paper Analysis (W2)

In last semester’s term paper, “The Case Against a United States Carbon Tax”, I vehemently opposed the notion that a tax on carbon emissions would in any way produce benefits to the United States economy or improve the global environment. Below are my ethos/logos/pathos and Toulmin Method evaluations of my work.

Ethos/Logos/Pathos Method

LOGOS

Logos is listed first since I believe this is my strongest and most persuading element of my paper. Each page is saturated with statistics, studies and quotes (each from different sources) that support my argument.

PATHOS

There was no attempt to appeal to emotions in my paper. I aimed to present a cold and factual argument without attempting to manipulate people into feeling a certain way. Going forward, it makes sense to unleash my inner Frank Underwood and become more manipulative.

ETHOS

Unfortunately, I, alone, have little leverage or authority to discuss the effects of the implementation of a United States carbon tax. I attempt to compensate for this lack of authority by providing plenty of sources from different government organizations, universities, prominent figures, and international organizations.

Toulmin Method

CLAIM

“The notion that the United States should adopt a carbon tax is categorically false.” (Found in 4th paragraph)

GROUNDS

The reasons for my claim are the increase of global food prices, a drastically inferior economy, and a failed attempt at fighting climate change with destructive effects.
WARRANT

A “carbon tax” was loosely defined in the introductory paragraphs of the paper as “a tax on carbon emitting fuels.”

BACKING

An overwhelming amount of evidence was provided in the paper. Reports from the UN, WFP, IMF, EPA, CBO, were among the many sources of information.

REBUTTAL

The rebuttal portion of the paper could have been extended. Only about two to three paragraphs entertained viewpoints from the other side. There seems to be an overwhelming focus on playing offense when the paper could have increased its effectiveness by eliminating more opposing arguments

QUALIFIERS

Qualifiers are hardly used in the paper.

Consistent and frequent evaluation is critical on the road of progress. If one does not constantly dissect one’s past performance, it would be difficult to devise an effective action plan resulting in improvement. By analyzing my work using ethos/pathos/logos and the Toulmin methods, I am able to develop a deeper understanding of my flaws and become more knowledgeable on how I can better apply my strengths. I plan on constantly using these methods to evaluate my writing now, and in the future.

Annotated Bibliography (W3)

1. George Orwell: Why I Write.” George Orwell: Why I Write. N.p., n.d. Web. 22 Feb. 2017.

Summary/Description

A personal essay detailing the journey of finding George Orwell’s purpose as a writer, this source presents the events of Orwell’s life that has caused him to develop as he did as a writer. These events have been able to guide Orwell into discovering that he felt most purposeful in his writing when it projected a political purpose. Orwell describes any writing of the past that did not uphold a clear political agenda as shallow and lacking substance.

Evaluation

George Orwell’s essay is related to my topic since he demonstrates a need for writers to uncover their purpose. It is critical, in any endeavor, to have a deeply motivating purpose that when achieved, will deliver to its writer total satisfaction knowing that his ideas were presented and his objective was reached. Moreover, Orwell proves to readers that finding one’s purpose requires one to invest plenty of effort snd time.

2. Rothman, Joshua. “Why Is Academic Writing So Academic?” The New Yorker. The New Yorker, 16 July 2014. Web. 22 Feb. 2017.

Summary/Description

“WHY IS ACADEMIC WRITING SO ACADEMIC?” by Joshua Rothman is an informative article in the Page Turner section of the New Yorker. Rothman attempts to inform readers on how the academic writing world is changing and, as a result, is becoming increasingly esoteric. According to Rothman, the dogmatic beliefs of the academic writing community, including the need to infuse jargon and ostentatious diction in nearly all work, seem to be at fault for its decrease in popularity. Rothman advocates for the expansion of academia to allow the following of academic writing to grow again.

Evaluation

Rothman’s article is relevant to my topic since he introduces the realization that the academic writing community is drilling itself into the ground. By failing to properly involve those outside of the academic writing community, the demand for their writing has fallen significantly, and only exists within the community itself. Once this realization spreads, it would not be surprising if academic writers begin to adjust the trajectory of their community, allowing for the increase of both the amount of active academic writers and their following.

3. Irvin, L. Lennie. “What Is ‘Academic’ Writing?” parlor press.com. 2010. Print.

Summary/Description

“What is ‘Academic’ Writing?” by L. Lennie Irvin is a comprehensive guide to understanding the fundamentals of academic writing. Irvin begins the piece by dispelling common myths about the art of academic writing. After that, a proper explanation of the Academic Writing Situation is presented. Then, the Irvin asserts the notion that all college writing is argumentative and concludes with the common format of academic writing.

Evaluation

This source will be one of the main focuses of my paper since it is a thorough document that fully explains all there is to know about academic writing. The examples provided throughout the text allow for the complete understanding of the structure and purpose of academic writing. This document arms readers with the ability to construct a solid piece of academic writing, and serves all as a practical guideline.

Draft Methodology (W5)

My first data gathering session was from 6:00AM March 16th until 6:00AM March 17th. My second data gathering session took place from 6:00AM March 27th until 6:00AM March 28th. These days were deliberately chosen to ensure that both social interaction extremes were taken into account. In other words, March 16th was a Thursday, a day I typically spend with minimal interactions with others. On a typical Thursday, I would either spend the day at work as a sales associate or at home reading and completing school related tasks. On the other hand, March 27th was chosen since it represents a day in the week with a higher concentration of dialogue with others. Nearly all Mondays are spent in Baruch; my first class begins at 9:05AM and my last class finishes at 8:45PM. In between are multiple windows for interactions with others; thus, providing plenty of opportunities to collect data.

During both gathering sections, the precise duration of speaking time (rounded to the nearest second) was recorded using an iPhone. To ensure the accuracy and quality of the accumulated data, I always held my iPhone in hand, something I hardly do consistently. This ensured that I never forgot to record dialogue during the day. Every time I spoke, I pressed the “Start” button on my iPhone’s “Clock” mobile application. Once I had finished speaking, I pressed the “Stop” button. I then would record the time spent speaking on the “Notes” application on my iPhone, and would transfer this data to a sheet of paper by the end of the data gathering session.

 

Project 2 Data Collection (W6)

Check out the groundbreaking data for Project Two below!

Graph 1 for Project 2

Day 1

Graph 2 for Project 2

Day 2

 

A Look at Literacy in America (W7)

TOULMIN METHOD – Literacy in America: Beyond the Basics

  1. CLAIM – “… the American education system faces serious problems.”
  2. GROUNDS – “… when it comes to thinking skills such as abstract reasoning and problem-solving, performance levels drop precipitously.”
  3. WARRANT – Since the United States is making the transition from a manufacturing based economy to a services/information economy, our nation will no longer be able to escape our inability to perform higher level tasks.
  4. BACKING – “… 95 percent of young American adults can read at a fourth grade level, 20 percent cannot perform beyond eighth grade norms.” Moreover, roughly 20 million Americans could not handle ordinary tasks. The author calls this a failure to be ‘functionally literate.’
  5. REBUTTAL – Although Americans may not be able to decipher hidden meanings in text that are not explicitly stated, it is possible that this inability to dig deeper can be charged to poorly written work.
  6. QUALIFIERS – Numerous uses of words that imply percentages without outright specifying percentages were used. Also, there were two incidences in the article were precise percentages were integrated with the text.

 

“LITERACY IN AMERICA: BEYOND THE BASICS.” The New York Times. The New York Times, 25 Sept. 1986. Web. 23 Apr. 2017.

Edward B. Fiske, in his article, Literacy in America: Beyond the Basics, details the main issues with the American education that can hinder the growth of our economy. Written in 1986, this articles pinpoints the possible trend in literacy rates of American society if the education system is not reformed in a way that allows for the development of deeper thinking skills. A study is referenced in the article that proves that the majority of the country is familiar with the most basic literacy skills. However, roughly one fifth of the population cannot perform beyond eight grade standards. Fiske concludes his article on a hopeful note, indicating that it is far easier to teach a population critical thinking skills once they already can perform basic tasks, as opposed to having to teach adults basic tasks from the beginning.

This article is relevant to my project since it discusses the issues of literacy in America. Since this article was written in the mid 1980s, I can use this in my project by discussing the trends in American education and literacy. I will use this article as a baseline for what American literacy rates were, and compare this information to how literacy rates are now. How our nation’s approach to dealing with this issue changed? Are we making progress in making our population more educated? This article will serve me as my benchmark.

Paragraph

At this time in America (1986) it seems to me that our education system has done a fairly decent job in educating our people. The studies referenced did not take into account that immigrants who newly enter our nation may affect the data collected from the study and cause the results to seem worse than they actually are. Yes, there is plenty of room for improvement, and yes we should aim to have 100% literacy rates within our nation; however, no system is perfect. The practical solution here is to begin acting on ways that will aggressively minimize the illiterate percentage of our population.\

Annotated Bibliography for Project #3 (W8)

“LITERACY IN AMERICA: BEYOND THE BASICS.” The New York Times. The New York Times, 25 Sept. 1986. Web. 23 Apr. 2017.

Edward B. Fiske, in his article, Literacy in America: Beyond the Basics, details the main issues with the American education that can hinder the growth of our economy. Written in 1986, this articles pinpoints the possible trend in literacy rates of American society if the education system is not reformed in a way that allows for the development of deeper thinking skills. A study is referenced in the article that proves that the majority of the country is familiar with the most basic literacy skills. However, roughly one fifth of the population cannot perform beyond eight grade standards. Fiske concludes his article on a hopeful note, indicating that it is far easier to teach a population critical thinking skills once they already can perform basic tasks, as opposed to having to teach adults basic tasks from the beginning.

This article is relevant to my project since it discusses the issues of literacy in America. Since this article was written in the mid 1980s, I can use this in my project by discussing the trends in American education and literacy. I will use this article as a baseline for what American literacy rates were, and compare this information to how literacy rates are now. How our nation’s approach to dealing with this issue changed? Are we making progress in making our population more educated? This article will serve me as my benchmark.

Literacy Project Foundation – Statistics. N.p., n.d. Web. 26 Apr. 2017.

The National Institute for Literacy, National Center for Adult Literacy, The Literacy Company, and The U.S. Census Bureau have all presented statistics that shed light on the staggering literacy statistics of the United States. The article from the Literacy Project Foundation has summarized the findings of the above sources and divided their article into four sections: California, the Nation, the Economy, and Impact on Society. Various straight forward facts that have been collected by the organizations found above are presented in these sections.

I will use this article to help guide me with my third project by possibly using the facts in my advertisement to add some shock value. I can also use these facts to help me construct my letter to the advertising agency to attempt to convince them to publish my advertisement. Since the organizations supplying the facts listed in the article are some of the most reliable in the country, I can easily gain credibility by referencing them in either my advertisement or my letter or both.

“Troubling Stats on Adult Literacy.” U.S. adults rank below average in global survey of basic education skills. N.p., n.d. Web. 26 Apr. 2017.

The article “Troubling Stats on Adults Literacy,” written by Megan Rogers from insidehighered.com, highlights the low performance of adults in America when compared to other nations. Three versions of literacy were tested and measured: general literacy (decoding written words and sentences and comprehending, interpreting and evaluating complex texts), numeracy (solving problems involving math), and problem solving in technology rich environments (solving personal, civic or work problems using a computer). The study found that the United States underperforms nations in Europe and Asia. The main focus of this article is not the illiteracy of America’s youth, but of the illiteracy of adults in America (included those with college credentials).

This article will serve me well for my third project because direct comparisons are made with twenty-three other nations. Although the means in which this data was obtained has not been presented, this article will still prove useful since it clearly shows that there is plenty of room for improvement within the United States. However, it is important to dig deeper into how literacy is evaluated in the nations that have been compared to the United States. For all we know, the United States simply has much higher standards than other countries; and for that reason, appears to be underperforming when in fact our nations’ literacy rates exceed all.