10-second review: This author is probably right—logic is a problem, not only in writing, but in conversational exchanges.
Title: “Gateways to Writing Logical Arguments.” TM McCann. English Journal (July 2010), 33-39.
Summary: In preparing for writing, identify the problems with logic in newspaper articles and in normal conversation. Unfortunately, the article does not shed much light on how to analyze the problems in logic in oral give-and-take.
What the article does do is give a model refutation for a parents’ and students’ typical argument.
Timmy: I should have your permission to stay out after curfew at the skateboard park.
Parent: No way.
Timmy: Oh, come on. All of my friends are doing it.
Parent: Yeah, and if all of your friends jumped off a bridge into the Chicago River, would you do that too?
Now here’s a model of how the parent and student should argue:
June: I should have your permission to stay out after curfew at the skateboard park.
Parent: Why do you think you should have permission?
June: All of my friends are doing it.
Parent: So what? How does your friends’ behavior warrant your staying at the park?
June: Adolescents feel a strong need to define their identity by joining with friends in shared experiences.
Parent: How do you know that to be true?
June: A recent survey of 582 child psychologists revealed that 87% of the respondents recognized that children who are excluded from joining with peer-sponsored group activities felt isolated and lonely.
I can hear my saying to June: Well, you still can’t stay out.
June: why not?
Me: Because I say so.
The author frames the question—how can we analyze the logic in oral arguments in preparation for writing arguments? If students gathered examples of discussions in which logic is involved, the teacher and students could have some fun analyzing them and offering alternatives. But then they would need to apply what they have learned to writing. RayS.