Two quarters of critical thinking and writing class certainly taught me a lot about critical thinking and writing. Most importantly, it taught me how to think critically and then write…well…critically. Throughout the time I spent in this class I wrote essays that I was not only proud to read but also ones that I thought were effective and conveyed an important argument. The style of writing we used, having a slant and framing it with an opposition, taught me something about issues in our world today. And that is that a lot of problems are a grey area. Not all of them are simply solved by writing about them. They require constant communication and an ongoing dialogue. Over two quarters I learned how complex these issues are and the only way to work towards a solution is through constant communication and an ongoing dialogue.
Communication is the backbone of any society. Politicians, social activists, scientists, and many more rely on the importance of communication. Without it, social structures would fall apart, ideas would be misinterpreted, and people taken advantage of. One of my essays, What Else is Left?, talks about how “organic” food is misrepresented. People are buying what they believe is organic food when in reality it’s only a variation of the processed, factory farmed meat. This manipulated communication is essentially lying to an entire population of American consumers, and ultimately hurting their health. Big factory farm corporations are manipulating a product and finding loopholes to suck just a few more dollars out of consumers who believe they’re buying “organic.” A more extreme example of people being hurt through communication, or in this case lack there of, would be in Dave Cullen’s Columbine. Many people stressed that if they had just talked to listened to Eric and Dylan then the massacre could’ve been stopped (Cullen). Shock rocker Marilyn Manson said he would simply listen to the killers when asked what he would’ve said in Michael Moore’s Bowling for Columbine (Moore).
Our world is a massive network of social relationships. A social relationship can be defined as any relationship between one person and another or a group of people (Cohen). Any social relationship is vulnerable to a lack of communication because of different viewpoints and personal opinions. But, through my writing process I learned how these opinions and viewpoints can be strengthened with data and research. The argument, or slant as it was known in the context of our classroom, is only the starting point. In order to effectively communicate on the issue you’re writing about, information and research is key. Without it the whole thing falls apart and with it the chance of working towards solutions through continuous dialogue. To paraphrase from Slant, a book written by Nicholas Leither and Barry Horwitz, the research provides substance to synthesize your argument from (Leither and Horwitz). In other words, it basically supports the argument and allows for the writer to expand on it and communicate their ideas in a credible way.
The conclusion of an essay, and any piece of writing, is the most important part. It essentially leaves the door open for more people to continue the conversation you have started. I had never thought of it this way because up until now I have mostly been taught that the conclusion simply summarizes and rephrases the introduction. But that kind of ending is too abrupt. It only summarizes rather than provoking the reader to think about what has been proposed. It’s dull writing in my opinion. The conclusion is supposed to ask “so what?” (Leither and Horwitz). It emphasizes the importance of the argument and explains why people should care. It leaves the door open for others to pick up and continue the dialogue. Michael Moore, Dave Cullen, and Jonathan Safran Foer all used this methodology. They took a stance, they argued for it, and then they explained the bigger picture: how it affects all of us and why we should care. So why does any of this matter?
Communication, conversation, and dialogue are all different words to describe a concept that is the glue of any relationship or society. It brings people together but also drives them apart through difference in ideas and opinions. In an ever-changing society it is the only way to move forward and push new ideas through a variety of media like film, photography, and writing. It will not always be perfect and will often lead to dead ends and strained relationships. But, it is a powerful tool and ultimately brings people together regardless of race, gender, politics or opinion. As Jonathan Safran Foer said in his book Eating Animals, “And it isn’t just what we put into our mouths that creates table fellowship but what comes out. There is also the possibility that a conversation about what we believe would generate more fellowship—even when we believe different things—than any food being served” (Foer).
Bowling for Columbine. By Michael Moore. Dir. Michael Moore. 2002.
Cohen, Sheldon. “Social Relationships and Health.” American
Psychologist (2004): 676-84. Web.
Cullen, David. Columbine. N.p.: n.p., n.d. Print
Foer, Jonathan Safran. Eating Animals. New York: Little, Brown, 2009.
Leither, Nicholas, and Barry Horwitz. Slant: Writing Essays You Want to
Read. Moraga, CA: Heteroclite, 2011. Print.