Your assignment is to write an argumentative essay. Read on….. Selecting an Issue to Argue About Probably the best way to get started on an argumentative essay is to list several possible topics. Lucky for you, I made a list of ideas! If you don’t like any of these, you can brainstorm some current topics on your own, even if you haven't yet formed strong opinions about them. Just make sure that they are issues -- matters open to discussion and debate. For example, "Sportsmanship" is hardly an issue: few would dispute that displaying unsportsmanlike conduct is wrong. More controversial, however, would be a proposal that students displaying unsportsmanlike conduct should automatically be dismissed from the team. For this assignment, the topic needs to be related to Physical Education, Athletics, Health/Nutrition - you get the drift. As you list possible topics (or select one I have suggested), keep in mind that your eventual goal is not simply to vent your feelings on an issue but to support your views with valid information. For this reason, you might want to steer clear of topics that are highly charged with emotion or just too complicated to be dealt with in a short essay. Of course, this doesn't mean that you have to restrict yourself to trivial issues or to ones that you care nothing about. Rather, it means that you should consider topics you know something about and are prepared to deal with thoughtfully in a short essay of 500 or 600 words. A well-supported argument on the need for smaller class sizes for instance, would probably be more effective than a collection of unsupported opinions on the need for a lot of new facilities at HCS.
Exploring an Issue Once you have listed several possible topics, select one that appeals to you, and free write on this issue for ten or fifteen minutes. Put down some background information, your own views on the subject, and any opinions you have heard from others. You might then want to join a few other students in a brainstorming session: invite ideas on both sides of each issue you consider, and list them in separate columns.
As an example, the following table contains sample notes taken during a brainstorming session on a proposal that students should not be required to take physical-education courses. As you can see, some of the points are repetitious, and some may appear more convincing than others. As in any good brainstorming session, ideas have been proposed, not judged (that comes later). By first exploring your topic in this way, considering both sides of the issue, you should find it easier to focus and plan your argument in succeeding stages of the writing process.
Proposal: Physical Education Courses Should Not Be Required
PRO (Support Proposal)
CON (Oppose Proposal)
1. PE grades unfairly lower the GPAs of some good students
1. Physical fitness is a critical part of education: "A sound mind in a sound body."
2. Students should exercise on their own time, not for credit.