Social Utopias: Will Saada Fall 2015

December 15, 2015

Final Self Evaluation

Filed under: Portfolio — William Saada @ 4:42 pm

There are a few components of argumentative writing that I have learned and become more aware of throughout the semester.  First, is the complexities of most arguments which I tended to simplify.  In high school I would make a thesis and find a couple points that supported the thesis.  Although this can be effective to write a more compelling argument it is important to include more.  I’ve learned that is it important to include counter arguments more seriously inside an argumentative paper.  By thinking critically on what the evidence and reasoning that goes against one’s own thesis then you can make your arguments stronger.  An argumentative essay that gives reasons the counter arguments are wrong is very strong.  As the arguments itself becomes more complex it is important to present a clear argument that is argued point by point in a cohesive manner.

The introduction of an argumentative essay is very important to the flow of the entire paper.  Although I have still stuck to a similar style of writing introductions from high school I now understand what I need to do to make them stronger.   Before my introduction tended to be a very broad analysis of the topic.  It would work as a funnel starting broad and narrowing in on my topic.  However, this strategy, along with a lack of focus in my intros, made my introductions weak in setting up the rest of my paper.  Because began with broad concepts many ideas I presented in my introduction are not included within my paper.  This can be confusing for the reader who will then not be able to understand my main argument until they have made it through most of the paper.  It is important to use the introduction to introduce the concepts and the arguments that drives the paper.  The introduction should be written last so that the writer knows the arguments and the order it follows.  Each piece of evidence should be presented in a logical order each point building of the last.  The organization of an argumentative essay is key to the clarity of the argument.  The introduction is an important tool that must be used to effectively introduce the reader to the ideas that will be examined within the paper.

In addition to the introduction of a paper I found it important to spend more time preparing an outline before I began to write.  When you start writing a lot of times you expand upon your thoughts and find new ideas.  By making an outline prior to writing you can explore every important topic you want to hit in the paper.  Then you can organize these points in a logical fashion.  I used to write without planning ahead, essentially just writing without an end goal in mind.  This can be dangerous because once you develop the end you may be half way through the paper.  Thus, the first half may seem to have a different purpose than the second half and the paper is not cohesive.  It is important to think about what you want to write before hand rather than just jumping in.

In the course we did a lot of reading including: The Republic, Utopia, A Discourse on Inequality and the Utopian Feminist.  These four books were not easy to read and understand, thus, it was necessary to ready each book slowly and actively to understand the concepts and arguments introduced within the books.  The idea that brings each of these four books together is the critique of the society they live in by offering ideas and systems for a better or “perfect” society.  These ideas have had a strong influence on my opinions.  By reading about a critique on society we can think critically about the society we live in.  The readings we did in the course do not verify an accepted form of thinking.  However, they challenge popular or current ideas which dominated the society they live in.  For example, in book one of Utopia through Hytholoday, More presents many different problems in England and how they could potentially be solved.  Ultimately, the ideas in the books are very strong and encourage the reader to question and challenge the world they live in.

In order to fully understand the complex and thought provoking ideas and arguments in the reading we did, one must be able to think critically and see beyond the words on the paper.  This practice called explicating, which involved reading very carefully and understanding the important ideas that are conveyed by the text.  This process is very important especially when analyzing quotations.   Quotations are a significant part of a paper, however, one can not simply use a quote and simply expect the reader to fully understand it and how it relates to your argument.  Thus, it is important to both introduce the quote and explicate the meaning of the quotation.  In this sense critical reading is important in the writing process.  Not just to form one’s own ideas but to explain them and use other writer’s arguments to help your own.

The final component of this course work is the one I need to develop the most: oral communication.  Before entering this course I had been exposed to different forms of oral communication.  First, looking simply at class participation and attended a high school in which many courses involved a participation grade.  I learned a lot about my oral communication and how to maximize my potential.  Some people have the ability to speak of the top of their head improvising what they say as they go along.  I have never been good at improvising because I struggle to find the correct word choice and the underlying idea until I finish a thought.  Essentially I must fully explore my thought before I put it into words, otherwise it would be confusing for others to understand.  I am most successful in class discussions when I have thought about an idea or concept prior to the discussion.  When a new idea is brought up in a discussion I tend to remain silent because I have not formed my own well though out opinion on the topic.  Ultimately, I have learned that the key for me is preparation.  When I actively read something the prior to the class and thought critically about the discussion topics I felt that I was able to participate within the discussion.  When a new idea or topic was brought up that was not in the reading or that I had missed, I found it difficult to be a part of the discussion.  Preparation is key when it comes to oral presentation not only in discussion but especially in speeches and presentations.

In the class we were given 3 opportunities to give presentations to the entire class, the final one being our research presentations.  I thought I did good research on my topic and found many sources to help my claim.  My weakness, however, was a lack of preparation for the presentation itself.  I did not have a clear idea of how long it would take me and was forced to skip some important points to fit within the time limit.  Additionally, I had a difficult time with the diction of my presentation.  If I had spent more time preparing my presentation, I could have found the correct words for certain situations.  I forced myself into a couple of situations where I had to improvise what I was going to say and as I said above improvising is difficult for me to do successfully.  More preparation is helpful for any speech because it allows the speaker to focus more on the delivery rather than the content.  If the message is planned and memorized prior to the speech, then all the speaker needs to worry about is speaking clearly and effectively.  He or she can use eye content and gestures to help further their message.  I learned how significant preparation is for oral presentation not just for myself but for any speaker.

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