Friday, 17 April 2009

Just funny... Self-Evident Truths in Writing Class

In one of my Writing classes, I just gave a test, and one of the questions was "Identify the problem with this thesis statement" -- we'd spent a lot of time talking about Thesis Statements.

Some of the problems in the thesis statements were things like:
"not specific enough"
"support does not use grammatically parallel form"
"not controversial" (for example: "Exercise is good for you" is not a good thesis statement, because most people would read it and say, "DUH")
"does not take a clear position on the topic"
"uses absolute language, making the thesis difficult to prove"

The thesis statement was:

"There are three reasons all Americans love hamburgers: they are cheap, convenient, and tasty."

The correct answer was
"This thesis statement makes an absolute claim that cannot be proven" - that is, the word "all" makes the claim indefensible, and should be replaced with a word like "some" or "many" or even "most" -- leaving room for exceptions to the assertion.

About a third of my students thought the problem with the thesis statement was
"This statement is not controversial"

Turns out "All Americans love hamburgers" is a self-evident truth. They're Americans, after all.

And all you can do is smile.


hwarangi said...

Funny. Diet-pepsi of the K-blogosphere, eh? Quite the epithet. Can you live up to it?

Roboseyo said...

that's what Brian in Jeollanamdo called me over at Dokdo Is Ours. Did you get tagged over there, too?

the Korean said...

I swear, I also gave the "non-controversial" answer before I scrolled down.

Seriously, who doesn't like burgers? Disliking burgers is un-American.

Roboseyo said...

If Americans stop loving hamburgers, the terrorists have won, don't you know.

kissmykimchi said...

I think I'll have to agree with the students on this one. those burgers cannot be denied.

Well except for those new mini cheeseburgers that just feel like a waste of time.

ROK Hound said...

Dissing the mini cheeseburger sliders? You hate freedom, don't you?

Wayne0714 said...

It's a bit off topic but it reminds me of a lot of software programmers I know who use the English language without even realizing how they mangle the language, often with amusing results.
I've worked with many (Korean) programmers/techies who exibit allergic reactions to the English language in general and absolutely refuse to hone their English skills even though their job quite frequently requires reading/writing a lot of material in English albeit it's mostly technical stuff. And being a techie who wants to minimize (or optimize) any unpleasant activities such as writing in English, they tend to abbreviate just about every English word to the point of incoherence and often unintended hilarity. Case in point: when they write software that analyzes web statistics, they name their programs/databases with "_anal_" in it (no, they are not building adult web sites). When you list up all those programs/databases in a document, it's quite a sight. I have seen countless programs and acronyms named after body parts/bodily functions/excretion that are even more hilarious and ironical but I can't remember the contexts right now. And I swear none of them have been named like that intentionally.

And I just found out that Daum is introducing a new dictionary plug-in for web browsers and its installation file is named "DaumLittleDic.exe" (in Korea, it's Daum꼬마사전, "꼬마" meaning a little kid or a little thing, and "사전" means dictionary...obviously).