Essay #4: Response to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
Begin by reading:
The writing assignment:
(Paraphrasing) Kareem Abdul-Jabbar claims that university education involves both factual knowledge and critical thinking skills, but that many people resist learning how to think and evaluate information. Is his claim fair and accurate? What about his evidence? Does it prove his point?
- This Time magazine article was published on September 23, 2015. Donald Trump had announced his candidacy for President on June 16, but it was not at all obvious that two months later he would be elected. Reading this article as an attack on Trump is somewhat off-base.
- Kareem Abdul-Jabbar has set scoring records in the NBA and is a well-respected novelist. He writes a monthly column for The Guardian newspaper. He does not need your endorsement, so you can lose language which says: "Abdul-Jabbar writes X and I approve."
- Abdul-Jabbar entered UCLA in 1966 and retired from professional basketball in 1989. I doubt if you ever hung around with him to shoot a few hoops, so do not pretend he is an intimate pal. Do not refer to him by his first name. It is disrespectful.
- In your paper, refer to him by his last name. His last name is Abdul-Jabbar, not just Jabbar.
Hints for Success:
- The two student-written responses were assigned to give you an idea what response papers are like. Use them as models for your language and general strategy.
- Response papers such as this are arguments, so you need to practice good argumentation. Do not go for cheap shots such as guilt by association ("Muslims attacked us on September 11, and this article was written by a Muslim, so therefore it is anti-American and evil."), ad hominem ("How can an old athlete know anything about education?"), or slippery slope ("If we buy this liberal idea that we should question our beliefs, then before you know it, we will all reject religion and morality altogether.").
- "I liked this part" is not an academic response; we are not discussing the new bedspread for your dorm room. Give us a reason to believe that the essay is effective or ineffective, answers an important question or is simply irrelevant, is thorough or has some shortcomings. We do not care if it made you feel good.
- The prompt (assignment) is phrased as a series of questions. If you simply answer those questions, much like filling in an application form, you have not yet written an essay because you are not making a point and supporting it. With luck (assuming you have no other problems), this "answering the questions" strategy will produce a "C" paper. You need a thesis and support of your own.
- Your introduction should assume that the reader has no idea what the assignment was, what is the name of the article or who is the author. You need to tell the reader all those things as you get ready to make your main point about the article. Do not fire up your article with "He says that the point of college is to teach students 'to think logically in order to form opinions based on facts' but I disagree."
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Revised 7/12/21 • Page author: Curtis Allen • e-mail: email@example.com.