Hey, Mom! The Explanation.

Here's the permanent dedicated link to my first Hey, Mom! post and the explanation of the feature it contains.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Hey, Mom! Talking to My Mother #462 - Stupidity Revealed - How to Write a Persuasive Essay Part Six

Hey, Mom! Talking to My Mother #462 - Stupidity Revealed - How to Write a Persuasive Essay Part Six

Hi Mom, 

Because, seriously. Puppies make EVERYTHING better.

Take your tired dogma, your poor reasoning skills, your nonsense, your platitudes that you repeat like a parrot, and jam them in some crevice somewhere where we never look.

Not you, Mom.

Here I am writing to "teachers" who have disengaged their brains and run on auto-pilot, abandoning reason and critical thinking, and just parroting nonsense at students between cigarettes and cups of coffee spiked with bourbon. Am I being overly insulting? Yes. On purpose. I am calling for an awakening. Today, I reveal some STUPIDITY and cast it into the abyss.

Here are the links to the previous five installments of this feature.

How to Write a Persuasive Essay Part One

How to Write a Persuasive Essay Part Two

How to Write a Persuasive Essay Part Three

How to Write a Persuasive Essay Part Four

How to Write a Persuasive Essay Part Five

And onward...


There are many caveats that English teachers attempt to pass off as "rules" that are not rules. Often these mandates are issued without explanation. If one of these supposed "rules" is challenged by any one, many teachers become defensive and irate.

And yet these so-called "rules" are often truly stupid. They are the result of teachers operating under remote control, like programmed robots, without engaging their brains to think critically and determine what is the best mode for a student's paper and for writing in general.

On this page, I reveal some of the stupidity for what it is. And separate truth from remote control.

Beware of how you employ these dangerous ideas. Some robots do not take kindly to having their programming questioned and challenged.


No use of first person in papers

Have you ever been told by an English teacher not to use the first person pronoun "I" in your writing?

If so, then HOW can you write personal experiences? Would Eden Culpepper write: "In Eden Culpepper's experience as a mother, she has seen the negative effects of TV on her children more than the positive effects"?

Teachers created the "No I" rule for TWO reasons.

1) It eliminates the 'I think" sentence.
Isn't "I think we should change the law" weaker than "we should change the law"? In case, you're wondering: YES. It is weaker (unless you want to argue with me).

2) If left to their own devices, beginning writers, especially junior high school writers, would start every sentence with an "I." It's because they are VERY self-involved because they are just starting to become a self. Teachers became so tired of reading "I feel this" and "I believe this" and "It seems to me that" over and over that they said "NO MORE!!! CEASE AND DESIST BEFORE WE KILL YOU ALL!"

And the stupid rule was born.

But then how do you write personal experience?

Teachers will make this rule and then assign for the students to write a personal narrative, never explaining the problem with what the students will do for nouns and pronouns.

I would say this:

- True, you are not writing narratives.

- You may use personal experience in your thesis.
And if you use personal experience in your papers, then, obviously, you would write in first person.

No use of second person in papers

Second person (or use of you, we, us, our) is different. It may seem very natural to directly address the reader this way, especially if your thesis gives advice to your reader. However, in academic writing, it is best to stay away from second person and keep writing in third person all the time, except when conveying personal experience.

But as I have been elsewhere, teachers fall into these brainwashed traps in which they just act like parrots. I get it. I have been doing this teacher gig for a long time. We grade so many papers and see the same things so many times that we develop quick ways to nudge students in the right direction. However, this one is not a hard and fast rule as I have discussed in other items.

How are you supposed to convey personal experience without using the first person?

Are you supposed to refer to yourself in the third person?

Often teachers give advice without thinking through its implications, especially when it has become brainwashed "teacher-speak." This is one of those so-called "rules."

So, with second person, it is a case of over-use like with first person, but it is also a case of inaccuracy.

If I am writing about football players being too tired to study and failing tests, and I switch from referring to them as football players and refer to them as "you," then my paper will onl apply to those people reading it who happen to be football players.
In writing like this web site, in which I am giving advice directly to you, the reader, then I can indulge in use of second person.

But in general, it is best to stay away from these pronouns to be on the safe side. Academic papers should be in third person EXCEPT when conveying personal experience, and then a little first person SHOULD BE okay (and would be if more teachers would use their brains properly).

No use of Wikipedia in papers

WIKIPEDIA is not so bad. Not really.

WIKIPEDIA is the single, greatest, largest, most useful, collaborative information repository project in the history of the human race. Seriously? You're not going to look at it because of some half-baked and unsubstantiated claims by some "professor" parroting nonsense discussed on the faculty coffee lounge? Really? Are we that mindless and robotic??? Is this what college taught us? To parrot tired platitudes without engaging our critical thinking minds?

Not so much. 


Here's the thing. Teachers like to adopt easy rules that negate bad habits. It's like the first person rule about writing sentences with the pronoun "I."

Same thing.

If left to their own devices, the majority of students (note, I wrote "the majority") would use Ask.com, About.com, and Wikipedia as their only sources. Some actually list "google.com" as a source. This is quite common. And I will explain multiple times that GOOGLE IS NOT A SOURCE. And I still get 2-3 papers EACH semester with it listed as a source. haha .... I am not angry. Just playing the role for my TV show.

Seriously, IF all students had a fair number of legitimate sources found using a library search, then using Wikipedia would not be so bad. If I saw a source list of four articles from scholarly journals and Wikipedia, I would not tell the student using Wikipedia is wrong, especially if this student verifies the information taken from Wikipedia using other sources. 

Actually, About.com and Ask.com and sources of that ilk are much, much more unreliable and incomplete in their information than Wikipedia. Wikipedia often features extensive bibliographic lists and the information has been checked so many times by professionals that it is very accurate. In fact, it is MORE accurate in most cases than a commercially produced encyclopedia.

BUT.... teachers grew tired of seeing it. And we're all overworked and underpaid. And it's easier to just tell students not to use it than explain WHY and explain HOW to best use it. 

This is reality people. I try to keep it real, here.

So, what should you do? It depends.

I dislike cardinal rules, and especially ones without explanation.

I like people who can think and use critical thinking skills.

I like students who read up on these issues of how to use sources before embarking on research.

Wikipedia is the most complete and easily accessible (and free) place on the web for information.

I use it all the time.

It's great to read that others use it, too. I love reading about so many curious people.
However, we have standards in academia. For basic knowledge to satiate curiosity or as a good place to start, Wikipedia is a fine site.

But for final academic research it is not.

Wikipedia is a great place to start. I often read the entry in Wikipedia first to get a feel for a complicated topic.

Often the research materials used in a Wikipedia entry are very legitimate, scholarly articles from journals.

One of the best reasons academics eschew Wikipedia is that students often "borrow" text from it word-for-word without proper citation. Some teachers will lower a grade even for using it, so we all warn students NOT to use it, but the real problem is using it without proper citation.

I have started arguing against the brainwashed parroting of teachers who just repeat the conventional "wisdom" they "heard" at the water cooler without employing any critical thinking skills to really CHOOSE when Wikipedia might actually be useful. This also goes for the "don't use first person I pronouns in your paper." HELP ME SPOCK!

Check out this link on use of Wkipedia in academia.

‘Information sabotage’ on Wikipedia claimed
Politically controversial science topics like acid rain, evolution, and climate change are vulnerable to "edit wars" by trolls

August 17, 2015

Librarians should edit WIKIPEDIA

A Stand Against Wikipedia

Should University Students use WIKIPEDIA?

We must think critically about how and when we use sources not just accept what someone else said and repeat it like a scripture.

   Chris Tower    The Galactic Monkey Wrench   Kalamazoo, Michigan   49006   Contact me here with questions or comments. 
© All text and some of the images are the exclusive copyright of christopher tower (who purposefully avoids capitalizing his name), also known as the galactic monkey wrench, located at the Eldorado Ranch and batcave in the heart of the Great Lakes. All rights reserved. All paronomasia intentional


Reflect and connect.

Have someone give you a kiss, and tell you that I love you.

I miss you so very much, Mom.

Talk to you tomorrow, Mom.


- Days ago = 464 days ago

- Bloggery committed by chris tower - 1610.11 - 10:10

NOTE on time: When I post late, I had been posting at 7:10 a.m. because Google is on Pacific Time, and so this is really 10:10 EDT. However, it still shows up on the blog in Pacific time. So, I am going to start posting at 10:10 a.m. Pacific time, intending this to be 10:10 Eastern time. I know this only matters to me, and to you, Mom. But I am not going back and changing all the 7:10 a.m. times. But I will run this note for a while. Mom, you know that I am posting at 10:10 a.m. often because this is the time of your death.
Post a Comment