English 1101 paper topics

Paper 2

Read every word below carefully, more than once, before starting your essay.

Choose one of the following options and respond in an argumentative essay of 750-1100 words (in the body of the essay, excluding headers, name, date, title, works cited entries, etc.). Raise a central question at the end of your introduction that the rest of the paper strives to answer in the persuasive format.

For details of the physical formatting of your paper on papermargins, headers, titles, etc.see the simple stuff page. For guidelines on quotation and documentation, see the quotes and documentation page. All options require quotations from the readings, so a works cited page is necessary.

I encourage you to seek my help with your paper outside of class. I cannot respond to whole drafts through email, but I will be glad to go over your paper from start to finish with you in person before you submit it for grading.  If my office hours don't mesh with your schedule, let me know and we'll make arrangements for other times. 

I am neither expecting nor encouraging you to use any sources beyond those assigned as readings for this class. Understand that if you bring in quotes from web sources, you will still need to document citations correctly according to the quotes and documentation page, but they will not count towards quotation requirements for the assignment.  

Works cited info: For bibliographic information on any readings handouts, such as "Japanese Education," e.g., see the referring pages from our schedule of readings and assignments (the pages from which you loaded the Adobe .pdf files).

Note that you must submit the final draft in both hard copy (printed on paper) and electronic form (as an email attachment).

Paper proposals: Before you begin writing the essay, construct a topic sentence outline just as we did for the third writing exercise and the first paper: begin the outline with the literal question your paper addresses, then give full topic sentences that answer the question directly for each primary point in your paper (i.e. for each body paragraph), just as they will appear in the essay itself, and conclude the outline with the paper's overall thesis, answering the central question directly and combining your essential points from the various topic sentences. See sample topic sentence outlines on my writing tips page and on this page.

1) As we have noted in discussion, politicians, education experts, and general public consensus are generally critical of the American public education system, and objective testing indicates that U.S. students are lagging behind those in many European and Asian nations. Construct an argument in the persuasive format proving that our system of education is fundamentally sound and in need of only minor improvements. You might seek to clarify just what the primary aims of the American system of education are (or should be). Incorporate at least two quotations from our recent readings on education.

2) If you agree with the critics who condemn our system of pre-university education, identify the primary flaws in the system and make thoughtful suggestions for improving American education. You may rely on any of our readings to support of your assertions, but your primary points of analysis should present your own thinking on the issue: bring in at least three quotations from the readings to support your views, not to make your primary points for you.

Note that this option does not necessarily call for argumentation—you can raise a question in the introduction and then present only positive, direct answers that you agree with. In other words, an opposing viewpoint is not required with this option.

3) Argue for or against the banning of laptops in college classrooms, quoting the two articles we read on this issue at least four times (total).

4) Argue for or against Paul Goodman's proposal to abolish grading at the college level. If you agree with Goodman, be wary of simply restating his argument—argue for Goodman's ideas, but concentrate primarily on explaining why you agree with them. Quote Goodman's article at least three times: you might also quote Diane Ravitch's article, "In Defense of Testing," and/or Joy Alonso's "Two cheers for Examination," but you are not required to do so.

5) Including at least four quotations from "Class Dismissed" in your discussion, argue for or against the idea of abolishing the twelfth grade in U.S. education, or perhaps making it optional. Be especially careful to include legitimate opposing views on this topic!

6) What qualities and strategies make a teacher effective—that is, what makes a good teacher? This option does require argumentation, so in order to adhere to the persuasive format, you will need to view this question as a two-sided issue: consider as the opposing argument some quality or qualities others think important to effective teaching but that you disagree with. Include at least two quotations from any of our readings on education.


blue bulletEvery topic sentence should answer the intro question directly.
blue bulletIntroduce all quotes: see nugget 3.
blue bulletSweat the details: use the Golden Rules, Nuggets, Simple Stuff, and Quotes & Documentation pages and proofread carefully.
blue bulletOffer concrete evidence (quotes) in support of each of your major assertions.
blue bulletCall or email if you have questions or problems. 

Use the ARC (Academic Resources Center)! I encourage you to see tutors for help with your papers at the ARC on either the Macon or Warner-Robins campus. We have well-trained certified tutors who can give you plenty of one-on-one attention with any aspect of the writing process. Be sure to take a copy of this assignment with you to any tutoring session, or show your tutor this assignment page on the web.