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Thoughts From The Corner

August 29, 2012

"thoughts from the corner"

Not so long ago, I was giving home tuition in GCSE English. The subject was that old chestnut and favourite of all examination boards, the Persuasive Essay.

Over the years I have it referred to as a ‘For and Againsts’ essay and even a ‘Pros and Cons’ piece of writing. The title which I least like, though, is ‘Argumentative Essay’. The word ‘argue’ seems, somehow, to imply a kind of aggressiveness which has not-so-pleasant connotations. The word ‘persuade’, on the other hand, has a much more humane, gentler feel to it.

We live in a world full of strife; a world where dictators’ seem to think they have the right to murder citizens of the country that they all live in – if they so wish.

We live in a world where litigation is actively sought after by lawyers touting for people who have been in accidents. This is done from the pavements of our towns and cities as citizens attempt to go about their everyday business.

We live in  world where the norm in many households is to argue continually and live as rats penned in a cage.

"gcse english"

So no, I much prefer the word persuasive to argumentative.

I have recently added a persuasive essay article to our Experienced Tutors web site. It was while constructing that, that I came across the following:

Hear all sides and you will be enlightened.

Hear one side, and you will be in the dark.

Wei Wheng to Emperor Tai Cong , Tang Dynasty (618-907 a.d.)

Written approximately 1,400 years ago I had to smile as I thought how well it fitted in. Not only fitted in with life as we live it but also fitted in with the article on persuasive writing.

Arguments, it seems to me, are attempts to brow beat the other side into a way of thinking. Persuading, however, seems to imply an input from both sides. It culminates in one side reaching an ‘enlightened’ viewpoint and is able to say, ‘Yes, you are correct. I see what you are saying now.’

In my one to one English lessons in the future I will tell the students it is possible to write a persuasive essay from only one point of view but the more successful pieces of writing will always be ones that echo the words of Wei Zheng.

"home tuition"

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2 Comments
  1. So many of the world’s problems would disappear if we could all just learn to appreciate that there are legitimate points of view different from our own.

    Great post.

  2. Thanks for stopping by and taking time out to read the post, you views are very much appreciated. You are 100% right in what you say.

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