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Argumentative Strategies

Starting an argument has never been so fun.

Are you ready to take your argument technique to the next level? Screaming stuff at the top of your lungs works really well for professional linebackers and drill sergeants, but everybody else should probably take this course. Here, we introduce you to the thing that started it all—the argument—and five variations on that theme.

Need to explain how your relationship with your iPhone is totally like the hippopotamus's symbiotic relationship with that weird little bird? (Really, who doesn't?) That's in here. So is a way to say "no" to everything someone says without sounding like a two-year-old.

Also in here: disagreeing with someone's point while still sounding open-minded and thoughtful, a magical method for changing the meaning of words, and a formula for explaining how the world works.

So what are you waiting for? Get in here.

Course Breakdown

Unit 1. Argumentative Strategies

This course explores some basic strategies of argumentation and how to implement them in writing, including: 

  • Cause and effect
  • Concession and rebuttal
  • Definition and reinterpretation
  • Negation
  • Analogy

Sample Lesson - Introduction

Lesson 1: Whose Argument Is It, Anyway?

An image of Jean-Luc Picard as the Borg from Star <i>Trek</i>
Join us, human.
(Source)

Arguments are useful little dudes. They just have a bad rep. Using nothing more than an argument, you can

  • convince your friend, a die-hard Breaking Bad fan, that The Wire is in fact the best TV show of all time.
  • successfully petition a teacher to extend the deadline on that essay you've been putting off writing because you just had to watch the Breaking Bad finale. Turns out your friend made some good points in that argument.
  • weasel out of doing the dishes on your night because you've just got to write that essay. After all, the teacher's extended the deadline once already.

Sounds good, right? Who doesn't want to get their way and convince everyone that they're right pretty much all of the time?

There's just one teeny problem with our imagined scenario.

It assumes that nobody else in the world knows how to argue.

And as anyone who's ever gotten into a fight with a sibling or had to explain less-than-ideal behavior to a parent knows, that's just not true.

One of the ways other people can crush our dreams of world domination is by rejecting our claim that global dictatorship a la Shmoop is the way of the future. That's because a claim is a general statement of belief or interpretation of the facts, and opinion alone isn't enough to make a winning argument. You need a reason.

In fact, really hardcore argumentative types will demand not one but many reasons why they should believe a claim. They'll ask for facts, statistics, quotes from experts—the whole nine yards. In short, they want evidence.

You already know who these picky argument-sticklers are. They're the teachers who ask you fill your English papers with more citations from the text than you can shake a stick at (should you happen to want to shake a stick thusly). They're the parents who tell you that "because all my friends are doing it" isn't a good enough reason to get a tattoo. They're anyone who demands that you turn a statement of opinion into an actual complete argument using the most basic building blocks of the trade—claims and evidence.

And after this course, you'll be one of them, too.

Welcome to the Borg.

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  • Course Length: 3 weeks
  • Grade Levels: 9, 10
  • Course Type: Short Course
  • Category:
    • English
    • Writing
    • High School
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