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My writing assignment (grade 11)

Guest Lindakn

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Guest Lindakn



The following is my final draft of an essay I did for the curriculum Writing Strands- Exposition, for the "fair" assignment (the second lesson) in wich i had to write an argumentative essay.


The assignment is pretty long, but here's basically what they're asking me to do:



1)the idea that abstractions are important in guiding peoples lives

2) where americans get there ideas of what is fair

3) its important that people accept the implications and not just meaning of abstractions

4) a hypothetical situation where the whole world is made "fair"

5) what would happen to my life if fairness were imposed on the world.



pt. 1: how my life is now

pt. 2: how my life would change after imposing fairness on the world



1) some connection to the observations in the intro about the importance and the implications of accepting abstractions.

2) a statement about my new understanding of what it would look like if things were fair.

3) a statement about my awareness of the necessity of careful thought when given abstractions and told to guide your life by them.


plz critique (the harsher the better; i want to learn to write well!)






An abstraction is something that can only be appreciated intellectually. Truth, hope, common sense, boredom and fairness all fit into this category. Abstractions play a significant role in guiding the choices we make in life. Therefore, we must strive to understand abstractions so that we can use them to make better decisions. Fairness is an often-misused abstraction that can be defined as “equal distribution.†People get their idea of what fairness is from all sorts of influences, such as literature, movies, music and the government. The imposition of fairness could create an effect quite different than we often subconsciously assume when we use the word. However, for most of us North Americans, being brought down to a level where we are “equal†with the rest of the world would mean extreme changes in our lives in almost every area.

North America contains about five percent of the world’s population and about twenty-five percent of the world’s wealth. Let’s say I represent an “average†North American. I have a decent job, a computer in my room, a video game system and about 6 of my own video games, an electric guitar and an amplifier to go with it. In my dresser I have more than a dozen shirts, plus a few that I don’t wear because I don’t like them, about five sweaters, six pairs of pants and three pairs of shoes. I am assured an education of at least graduating high school, and if I want to, I can go to university to pursue a degree in whatever I want.

I have it pretty good. But see how much I would lose if I redistributed my “wealth†to be “fair†with the rest of the world. I might still have a job, but the other areas of my life would be severely affected; a lot of items would be shared by a group of people; I would get to use a computer, a video game system, an electric guitar and an amplifier once every five days. I would own one video game. I would have three shirts, one sweater, and one pair of pants. I might have shoes; three of every five people would have a pair. I could only study one subject in school, and I would certainly not be able to go to university.

If my life was to be made “fair†with the lives of everyone in the rest of the world, I would be a lot worse off. Of course, some people would be better off; they would go from having nothing to having some possessions, a short education, one or two changes of clothes, and certainly a nicer place to live. When we only focus on the structure of our own lives, things often feel mostly “fair†between us and those around us. That is why, when something doesn’t fit that structure, we feel outraged; that’s not fair! But reality is, it was never fair in the first place.




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Some thoughts -


Where did you get your definition of fairness as meaning equal distribution? I ask, because that definition would not be a universal definition of the term. Some people would talk more in terms of justice, which could include equal distribution in some instances but is not limited to such.


In the same sentence where you define it as equal distribution, you say that it is often misused abstraction. How is it misused? How could it be used correctly?


Your language use is good, though I keep stumbling over your use of the word "there" instead of "their" in point two of your intro.;)


Your conclusions of how your life would change are a bit rosy, I think. If you think about just how much of the world does not have the basics of food, water and shelter, a totally equitable redistribution of wealth would mean a lot more than only getting to use a computer every five days.

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Before writing any essay which focuses so much on a single word, I would go down to my local library and look up all meanings of the word in the OED. I'm not sure you've quite got the right meaning for 'fair', which is pretty damaging to the structure of your essay. With your definition, the outcome of a football game would only be fair if it ended in a tie.




An abstraction is something that can only be appreciated intellectually.


And this very first sentence lands with a big thud. So what if abstractions can only be appreciated intellectually? Chess is also something that can only be appreciated intellectually, but I wouldn't say that chess is important to making big life decisions.

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