Why should I learn about arguments?
When we ask big questions, the answers aren't always black or white. The best way to approach a big questions is to understand the problem, and them up with potential solutions.
Your first task is to learn how to build an argument.
If you decide to make a claim about what is true and what should be done, it should be because you've done your research.
How do I Build an argument?
argument = claim + evidence
This equation is the building block to all great arguments. Once you have done your research, you are prepared to build an argument.
Your goal: to make a claim that is based on your research.
What is a claim?
A claim is either the answer to a question or a solution to a problem. Let's look at a couple of examples:
Question: Why do so many students underperform in school?
Answer: Students underperform because they don't wear uniforms.
Problem: Why do so many students underperform in school?
Solution: Students should be forced to wear school uniforms.
Using evidence to support my claim
In a strong argument, all claims must be supported by evidence. It's important to make sure your evidence come from a credible source.
Let's build on one of our original examples:
Problem: How can we help students do better in school?
Solution: Students should be forced to wear school uniforms because according to a 2010 University of Houston study, elementary school girls' language test scores increased by about three percentile points after uniforms were introduced.
So you see how evidence is the proof that we use to support our claim.
Is my argument "right"?
That's a difficult question.
Using evidence to support our claim does not mean that the argument can't be refuted. It's just the starting point.
Your argument might be different from your friends', and it's also possible that you'll change your mind along the way. Both of these are perfectly fine.
The more arguments we read, the more we understand the problem.
Avoiding preferences and desires
When we are making an argument it's important to consider whether or not our own personal preferences or desires are a part of that argument. Let's look at two examples:
"I hate my school sweater, so students should not have school uniforms"
"I think we should have school uniforms because I don't want to have to worry about what I wear every day"
Do you see how personal preference is used in the first example and personal desires are used as evidence in the second?
I can't express preference of desire?
Of course it's OK to have personal preferences and desires.
When you're talking with friends, it's OK to talk about what you like and what you don't like. Sometimes you might even be asked to talk about them in class dicussions.
However, if you choose to include personal preferences and desires in your argument, make sure they are included on top of your evidence and not as a replacement for it.
Now you know how to build a strong argument.
Try this technique in your next Parlay RoundTable.