Sunday, September 12, 2004

Spent most of the day marking essays and am now wondering what we have failed to teach. Normal, rational arguments generally follow this pattern:
If A = B
and B = C,
then A = C. That's logical, right?

The essays I've been marking generally look like this:
A (therefore) = C.
And that's all!

The answer (A = C) may look the same BUT the process and the development of the answer simply doesn't make sense because the linkage (B) is almost all but ignored. Typically, this kind of argument works if you were the Dictator of a banana republic and because you repeat it often enough and loudly enough your people will start to believe you. However, try this kind of reasoning with a group of rational people and it's goodbye, Senor Presidente, as your shoulders bid a fond farewell to your head.

I've also been doing some math (oh horrors!). A balanced argument doesn't seem as important as it might appear. An essay with a strong, well-presented, cohesive argument may score a maximum of 18 out of 30 marks for content even if it is "not necessarily balanced" (quoted from the essay marking scheme). But an essay riddled with contradictions because balance is poorly argued (worse -- forced because it is "required") risks scoring a maximum of 12 out of 30 content marks for making a mess of the argument. That's the difference between a D and a C grade, and it could be all the difference in the world. Those of you consistently scoring D and below, please take heed.

If this rant isn't making sense to you, please go find a GP tutor to speak to BEFORE you take the exam for real. If there's a problem, let's fix it now!

After blowing off steam,'s the scoreboard:

> Today's tally = 14
> Cumulative total = 19

And we're off and running!

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