Thinking Activity “guide to reasoning” climate change

Arguing a Position 

Thinking Exercise 

“We live in a complex world filled with challenging and often perplexing issues that we are expected to make sense of. Usually the media or others in authority will define these issues for us; as effective thinkers we have an obligation to develop informed, intelligent opinions about these issues so that we can function as responsible citizens and also make appropriate decisions when confronted with these issues in our lives.” 

“Almost everyone has opinions about events and their meaning. Some opinions, however, are more informed and better supported than others.” We must be aware of how we form our opinions and see if we can support our opinions with well-constructed arguments and evidence. 

Your assignment is to identify an issue, name it, take a position, and argue for that position. You will participate as a member of a debate team

Remember the steps to take. 

1.     Name the issue. 

2.     State the arguments. 

3.     Support each argument with evidence. Evidence is not an opinion; it is experience that can be confirmed by others and is used to support an argument. Evidence can take the form of first-hand experience, statistical analysis, or expert testimony. 

You will give a two-minute oral presentation in class. It will consist of the following: 

1.     Statement and definition of issue 

2.     Statement of position on issue 

3.     Argument 1—argues for your position on issue 

4.     Evidence 1—supports Argument 1 

5.     Evidence 2—supports Argument 1 


1.     There is a current debate among educators about what should be taught in humanities courses such as literature and history. One faction seeks a return to the classics, while another faction believes we should diversify our cultural studies to include a variety of expressions from many cultures. The emphasis for both groups is what to study. I believe that they both have it wrong. The issue is not what we should teach but instead is how we should teach. 

2.     I believe that the emphasis on cultural studies should be placed not on content of lessons but instead on the critical thinking skills needed to accumulate knowledge, regardless of content. 

3.     My first argument is this: students who are given information without the critical skills to analyze it will not be able to apply this information; therefore they will not be educated in either classical or multicultural studies. 

4.     As an instructor for the last several years, I have observed that students who do not have critical thinking skills become frustrated with their studies, no matter what the content. After twelve weeks of attending my class, 85 percent of all students completing my class indicated that the skills they had developed made studying easier and more relevant to their lives. This information was obtained by end-of-the-year reviews taken by the LaGuardia Community College Faculty Assessment Questionnaire. 

5.     According to Kevin O’Reilly, author of Evaluating Viewpoints: Critical Thinking in United States History, Book One, Colonies to Constitution, students who use traditional methods of rote learning do not retain information beyond testing dates, while those who apply a critical analysis to the information given to them retain information for longer periods of time, because of their ability to synthesize this information into their preexisting body of knowledge.

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