did I just walk into debate class?

I just got back from Expository Writing II, where apparently our next paper will be a ‘mystery paper’. I say this because we completed our last paper three class periods ago, and the only homework we have gotten so far is that we have to have (and I quote) “a vague idea of what you want to write about” by next class period. So what have we been doing for the last three classes (1.5 hours each, mind you)? Talking politics. And this isn’t even election debate stuff – the only connection is has to our writing class is that we have been reading example essays leading up to the one we will write. Today’s example was an essay by Ellis Cashmore, who believes steroids should be legalized in athletics. So instead of analyzing Cashmore’s argumental structure, we spent the entire class period listening to anyone who wanted to give an opinion on the issue discussed in the paper. This opened a debate between two people in the class. One was an ex-football player who took steroids, which he said made him irritable, and led to a fight with a fellow student, resulting in fines, suspension and exposure in the paper. He and a girl who is a collegiate athlete who never takes any supplements got into an argument that lasted most of class. And what did we learn about writing Expos papers? Nothing. Did I engage in the debate? No, I didn’t. I sat there listening to everyone else and wondering why I had even bothered to come to class. This is an issue I’d feel comfortable discussing in a smaller group setting, not in a class where we should be learning about English and bettering our writing skills. So what did I learn in Expos today? What I gathered is that in today’s society we must have a set opinion on every issue and be prepared to shoot down any opponent who thinks differently than us. This discussion may have been acceptable if we were in a political science class, or current issues or something. Not in English class.

Along the same lines, this YouTube video expresses frustration with one-sided political debates and was created after the last presidential debate. There is a little inappropriate language. Sorry. But I think the video gets across the ‘I’m right, and I’m only looking at one side of the story’ attitude. Our anthropology professor used the video in lecture last week while discussing political power. I found it quite humourous.

Ok, rant over. There is brighter discussion to come.

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