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I need ammunition of why you need to learn to write a literary criticism paper


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Ds15 (ie. Mr. Pigheaded at the moment) says that writing a critical literary essay on the Aeneid is dumb. While I can make him do it, he is much more willing and will do a much better job if I show him why these kinds of papers are necessary. I used the "you will need to learn how to do this in college" card and got a "well, college is dumb" response. I started to formulate a response based on the kind of thinking skills this will help him develop but (blush) started to flounder a bit as I did so.

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Have you done this one yet:

 

"Because I'm not giving up a paying career and all the interesting hobbies I might be pursuing on this gorgeous day just to listen to you complain about the kind of assignment that is obviously part of every American's high school career. This type of paper is standard issue high school English, and I am here to instruct you in how to do it, which I have done, and you are here to do it, which you have not."

 

Not nice, I know, but it is effective if you only do it rarely.

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Have you done this one yet:

 

"Because I'm not giving up a paying career and all the interesting hobbies I might be pursuing on this gorgeous day just to listen to you complain about the kind of assignment that is obviously part of every American's high school career. This type of paper is standard issue high school English, and I am here to instruct you in how to do it, which I have done, and you are here to do it, which you have not."

 

Not nice, I know, but it is effective if you only do it rarely.

 

I'm stealing this.

 

I get the "I don't care" about things ds doesn't want to do. Your response is much better than what I've been using.

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I'm stealing this.

 

I get the "I don't care" about things ds doesn't want to do. Your response is much better than what I've been using.

 

:lol: I should have included a warning. There's no way I on earth I'd use this approach with #2 son, who would give me permission to go do all the stuff I'd rather be doing because he'd just as soon complain at ps as at home.

 

In other words, maybe it only works for kids who strongly want to be hs'ed?

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I resorted to telling DS16 that when he becomes a successful civil engineer (his chosen career path) and starts mixing with smart, well-educated people, he will want to be able to hold his own when the conversation turns to literature, art or music (the 3 areas of his life that apparently cause more misery than should be legally allowed). It did the trick :tongue_smilie:

I, too, should add that this will never work with DS13. I'm still working on the magic formula for him. He is the master of the rebuttal :glare:

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:D Well, I can't beat Tibbie's response, which is perfect -- it goes straight to the heart of the matter (DS just doesn't want to do the assignment), and avoids engaging in getting a series of: "Well, then _____ is dumb" retorts from DS no matter what reasons you give...

 

 

However, even knowing that all my answers are "dumb", too :tongue_smilie: -- I'll try and give it a shot, with 10 Reasons Why You Need To Learn to Write a Literary Criticism Paper:

 

1. Demonstrates knowledge of, understanding of, and ability in the subject area.

(You do push-up challenges for PE/Fitness; you take tests in Algebra; you write essays in Literature)

 

2. Contributes to the Great Conversation that is thousands of years old and is part of all cultures.

(One would hope one's contribution will be more than just "Huh?", "Um...", or "LOL" -- like the majority of our modern Western culture...Those Jay Leno quizzes of random people attempting to answer basic questions come to mind... :eek:)

 

3. Practice for SAT/ACT testing (essay from a prompt).

(To get higher scores. Which leads to more chance at scholarships and better colleges will accept you. Which leads to better jobs. Which = more $$$.)

 

4. Helps you exercise and develop higher level brain functions: Logic, Abstract Thinking, and Analysis.

(i.e., You'll be smarter than those you'll be competing with for jobs. Making you more apt to get the job you want. And make more $$$. ;) )

 

5. Helps you practice expressing yourself, your opinions, your ideas in a way that people might actually listen to you and be persuaded.

(Think about how often you try to talk you parents, coach, friends, etc. into doing something you want... Here's a way to give yourself an edge. ;) )

 

6. READING the Literature allows you to access only HALF of what is there to be learned — thinking discussing, analyzing and WRITING helps you get much more out of the work.

(Who wants to be the fool who leaves half the meat still on the bone and misses out on some of the best parts?!)

 

7. Practices a specific type of writing skill you will use in many areas of life.

(examples: BUSINESS = proposals require ability to analyze, support your suggestions, etc. / STEM = need to be able to read/write scientific texts and analyze for how it integrates with your research, your patient, your project, etc. / LEGAL & POLITICAL = write/read/interpret technical documents, how to put together a logical/solid argument, etc. ...)

 

8. Prepares you for writing application essays to earn the big scholarship $$$ for college.

(Scholarship $$ = better college = better degree = better job = MORE $$$!!)

 

9. Helps you clarify your own thoughts, your "voice".

(If you don't know what you think, you're more apt to be told be others what to think. Less than pleasant downward spiral results.)

 

10. As you write, you reflect, and as you reflect, you learn much more about who you are, what your purpose in life is -- answering those crucial worldview questions or "Big Questions of Life".

(Chicks dig guys who are deep thinkers.)

Edited by Lori D.
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Have you done this one yet:

 

"Because I'm not giving up a paying career and all the interesting hobbies I might be pursuing on this gorgeous day just to listen to you complain about the kind of assignment that is obviously part of every American's high school career. This type of paper is standard issue high school English, and I am here to instruct you in how to do it, which I have done, and you are here to do it, which you have not."

 

Not nice, I know, but it is effective if you only do it rarely.

 

I am saving this in my "how to homeschool high school" folder. It will work on my boys - one of whom often tells me how dumb certain assignments are and that he won't ever need these skills in his career field. :glare:

Thank you so very much!

Denise

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does he have to write on the Aeneid ?

He could still write on another literary work while still achieving the goals of studying lit in depth.

 

He doesn't mind the Aeneid but he just wanted to read it and then move on without going in depth. He's a good reader and a good writer. He can dash off a surface type of an assignment without breaking a sweat. I want to start to move him to the next level. He doesn't want to go to the next level because it actually requires some work!

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6. READING the Literature allows you to access only HALF of what is there to be learned — thinking discussing, analyzing and WRITING helps you get much more out of the work.

(Who wants to be the fool who leaves half the meat still on the bone and misses out on some of the best parts?!)

 

10. As you write, you reflect, and as you reflect, you learn much more about who you are, what your purpose in life is -- answering those crucial worldview questions or "Big Questions of Life".

(Chicks dig guys who are deep thinkers.)

 

I don't know about ds, but these work for me! :D

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The skills of recognizing and assessing literary methods are similar to the skills for taking apart an advertising pitch, political speech or newspaper opinion piece. It lets you recognize when figurative language is being used in a news report to tilt the perception of an event. So in many ways it is self defense.

 

It also helps you use the skills of rhetoric in your own writing, even if it's not literary.

 

I have an English undergrad and had several commanding officers complement the writing in the messages I wrote for broken equipment. It was clear and understandable. If you will it was a mini essay with the problem as the thesis and the help I needed as the conclusion.

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Have you done this one yet:

 

"Because I'm not giving up a paying career and all the interesting hobbies I might be pursuing on this gorgeous day just to listen to you complain about the kind of assignment that is obviously part of every American's high school career. This type of paper is standard issue high school English, and I am here to instruct you in how to do it, which I have done, and you are here to do it, which you have not."

 

Not nice, I know, but it is effective if you only do it rarely.

 

This would not fly in my house. So what that every American high school student has to do it? (I'm not sure that's true.;) ) The best way for me to make my kids dig in their heels on something is to tell them that every other high schooler does it. If it's a meaningless task, it doesn't make it any better just because everyone else has to do it.

 

I think there are good reasons for learning literary analysis, but "everyone else does it" is not an argument I would use. ETA: Whoops, forgot to smile here, and can't figure out how to do it when editing.

Edited by marbel
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He doesn't mind the Aeneid but he just wanted to read it and then move on without going in depth. He's a good reader and a good writer. He can dash off a surface type of an assignment without breaking a sweat. I want to start to move him to the next level. He doesn't want to go to the next level because it actually requires some work!

 

This may be the root of the problem, Jean. I do not see how one just breezes through the Aeneid without some context and discussion. Or maybe this is my problem. For me, the Aeneid is just so rich that we spent about two months on it. Of course, I also had the end goal that my son would read it in Latin. People with different goals may not weigh things as I did.

 

Have you listened to Vandiver's lectures on the Aeneid? This might help your son see why one gives the work more than a cursory read.

 

Jane (who has fond memories of a winter spent with her then fourteen year old studying ancients)

 

ETA: Have your discussions sparked anything that he might want to extend in his essay? Perhaps the assignment itself seems too broad given the length and depth of the work. How specific have you been in guiding him on the topic at hand?

Edited by Jane in NC
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He doesn't mind the Aeneid but he just wanted to read it and then move on without going in depth. He's a good reader and a good writer. He can dash off a surface type of an assignment without breaking a sweat. I want to start to move him to the next level. He doesn't want to go to the next level because it actually requires some work!

 

Literary analysis papers help him learn to think deeply about all sorts of arguments and learn to craft an effective response to other's arguments.

 

I'm an over 50 home school mom who just in this week has had to live through an ugly gossipy attack on one of her family members. This included a long email written by a lady who writes for her small town newspaper so while I didn't agree with her, I could admit her email was well crafted, tugged on the heart strings, etc.

 

Without having done quite a bit of literary writing over the years I would not have been able to take her email apart and essentially prove she was wrong using only it as evidence.

 

So he's right, he is unlikely to have to ever write a literary paper after the first year or so of college, but he will always have to be able to respond to complex arguments in writing.

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My answers to questions of this type was always, "Because being able to write such a paper is something educated people can do."

 

However, I wouldn't say that he will have to do it in college. I did a lot of things in college, but I never once had to write anything about literature. (And my opinion is that the emphasis on literary analysis to the exclusion of other types of writing in high school English courses is entirely misplaced.)

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The skills of recognizing and assessing literary methods are similar to the skills for taking apart an advertising pitch, political speech or newspaper opinion piece. It lets you recognize when figurative language is being used in a news report to tilt the perception of an event. So in many ways it is self defense.

 

It also helps you use the skills of rhetoric in your own writing, even if it's not literary.

 

 

OK - I did start on this tack before I started to get bogged down! This is important to a child who is repeatedly way-laying me to give me his latest critique on some politician and their agenda.

 

This would not fly in my house. So what that every American high school student has to do it? (I'm not sure that's true.;) ) The best way for me to make my kids dig in their heels on something is to tell them that every other high schooler does it. If it's a meaningless task, it doesn't make it any better just because everyone else has to do it.

 

I think there are good reasons for learning literary analysis, but "everyone else does it" is not an argument I would use. ETA: Whoops, forgot to smile here, and can't figure out how to do it when editing.

 

I too recognize the humor in Tibbie's approach but it wouldn't fly with this child either. He really isn't trying to be obstinate for the sake of obstinacy. He just doesn't do well without reasons. I don't see him as having a career in the army. . .

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This may be the root of the problem, Jean. I do not see how one just breezes through the Aeneid without some context and discussion. Or maybe this is my problem. For me, the Aeneid is just so rich that we spent about two months on it. Of course, I also had the end goal that my son would read it in Latin. People with different goals may not weigh things as I did.

 

Have you listened to Vandiver's lectures on the Aeneid? This might help your son see why one gives the work more than a cursory read.

 

Jane (who has fond memories of a winter spent with her then fourteen year old studying ancients)

 

ETA: Have your discussions sparked anything that he might want to extend in his essay? Perhaps the assignment itself seems too broad given the length and depth of the work. How specific have you been in guiding him on the topic at hand?

 

Part of the problem is that it is the last thing we are doing from LAST YEAR'S subjects. Perhaps it might be better for me to just listen to the Vandiver lectures, which I have sitting on our shelves and skipping the paper. We're supposed to start NEXT YEAR'S subjects in a week.

 

Another part of the problem is that he absolutely adored Dante's Inferno and sees the Aeneid as inferior! He was intrigued by the use of Virgil in Dante and we have had in depth discussions on that.

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Literary analysis papers help him learn to think deeply about all sorts of arguments and learn to craft an effective response to other's arguments.

 

I'm an over 50 home school mom who just in this week has had to live through an ugly gossipy attack on one of her family members. This included a long email written by a lady who writes for her small town newspaper so while I didn't agree with her, I could admit her email was well crafted, tugged on the heart strings, etc.

 

Without having done quite a bit of literary writing over the years I would not have been able to take her email apart and essentially prove she was wrong using only it as evidence.

 

So he's right, he is unlikely to have to ever write a literary paper after the first year or so of college, but he will always have to be able to respond to complex arguments in writing.

 

This is helpful. Thank you.

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Part of the problem is that it is the last thing we are doing from LAST YEAR'S subjects. Perhaps it might be better for me to just listen to the Vandiver lectures, which I have sitting on our shelves and skipping the paper. We're supposed to start NEXT YEAR'S subjects in a week.

 

Another part of the problem is that he absolutely adored Dante's Inferno and sees the Aeneid as inferior! He was intrigued by the use of Virgil in Dante and we have had in depth discussions on that.

 

Nan and I have frequently discussed the number of times our boys argued over the "stupidity" of assignments. Truly, if they put the amount of time and energy into the assignment that they gave to their arguments, the school work would be easily done.

 

But interesting things were learned in the process. Perhaps the assignment was not the best (I hesitate to use the word "stupid".) Maybe it was not sufficiently clear or too open ended. Maybe it was too narrow. Conversations on why something does not seem relevant often lead to ah-hah! moments and improved assignments.

 

As a further note, I talked to my now College Boy about the nature of papers at his writing intensive LAC. Students are never given topics. They determine their own within some parameter, then run their ideas by their profs for approval. Granted, this might not happen at a large university. But I am glad that he was able to offer his ideas on assignments at home as this prepared him for the LAC experience where he could feed his interests into a variety of disciplines.

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Another part of the problem is that he absolutely adored Dante's Inferno and sees the Aeneid as inferior! He was intrigued by the use of Virgil in Dante and we have had in depth discussions on that.

 

Maybe he'd like to write an essay comparing the two and defending his opinion of the Aeneid? I'd hold him accountable for giving text based reasons for his statements. You'd also want to narrow the scope somewhat and focus on 2-3 specifics.

 

FWIW, my son has been required to write quite a few literary analysis papers in college even though he's a STEM major. He wasn't always as enthusiastic as I hoped he'd be during his high school years, but our read, write, discuss mantra based on WEM, Classical Writing, and the Teaching Company served him well.

 

ETA: My son's comparison essays were better thought out when he'd written separate analyses before attempting the comparison.

Edited by Martha in NM
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Nan and I have frequently discussed the number of times our boys argued over the "stupidity" of assignments. Truly, if they put the amount of time and energy into the assignment that they gave to their arguments, the school work would be easily done.

 

But interesting things were learned in the process. Perhaps the assignment was not the best (I hesitate to use the word "stupid".) Maybe it was not sufficiently clear or too open ended. Maybe it was too narrow. Conversations on why something does not seem relevant often lead to ah-hah! moments and improved assignments.

 

As a further note, I talked to my now College Boy about the nature of papers at his writing intensive LAC. Students are never given topics. They determine their own within some parameter, then run their ideas by their profs for approval. Granted, this might not happen at a large university. But I am glad that he was able to offer his ideas on assignments at home as this prepared him for the LAC experience where he could feed his interests into a variety of disciplines.

 

He chose his own topic. His ardor was dampened when I pointed out that he did not have a stated thesis but was just jotting down general ideas on the topic. :rolleyes:

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Maybe he'd like to write an essay comparing the two and defending his opinion of the Aeneid? I'd hold him accountable for giving text based reasons for his statements. You'd also want to narrow the scope somewhat and focus on 2-3 specifics.

 

FWIW, my son has been required to write quite a few literary analysis papers in college even though he's a STEM major. He wasn't always as enthusiastic as I hoped he'd be during his high school years, but our read, write, discuss mantra based on WEM, Classical Writing, and the Teaching Company served him well.

 

Yes, I had thought of that as a good topic for him. He rejected it as requiring too much thought! I think there is some burn-out here for both of us.

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I too recognize the humor in Tibbie's approach but it wouldn't fly with this child either. He really isn't trying to be obstinate for the sake of obstinacy. He just doesn't do well without reasons. I don't see him as having a career in the army. . .

 

I wasn't sure if it was meant to be tongue-in-cheek or serious! ;)

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The flip answer my older teen gives out to his less academic friends is "So I can get the references in X", X being some show they watch. If the kid has figured out that 'lucy in the sky' is not to be taken literally, he has that crashing moment when he realize the same applies to the lit. and starts reading more deeply and enjoying English class.

 

When he was a know it all 14-15-16 yr old, I indulged the 'why do we have to..' with an honest answer. If he asked again, he had to get an index card, write the question and the response down. The third time he tried to stall with the same question, he had to pull it from the index card box and read the response, then come up with a new point or get to work. Any further stalling meant he took one of my chores, since he wasted my time with blather.

 

:hurray::001_wub::cheers2:

 

I love this approach.

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Part of the problem is that it is the last thing we are doing from LAST YEAR'S subjects. Perhaps it might be better for me to just listen to the Vandiver lectures, which I have sitting on our shelves and skipping the paper. We're supposed to start NEXT YEAR'S subjects in a week.

 

Another part of the problem is that he absolutely adored Dante's Inferno and sees the Aeneid as inferior! He was intrigued by the use of Virgil in Dante and we have had in depth discussions on that.

 

This seems like a perfectly valid tactic for writing about the Aeneid. How does Virgil's description of XX compare to Dante's?

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Yes, I had thought of that as a good topic for him. He rejected it as requiring too much thought! I think there is some burn-out here for both of us.

 

Burnout is not good for either of you! It's ok to back off a little bit and regroup later. Maybe you could review some of the points you discussed, generate a series of questions and have him write a "response" paper instead of a full-blown essay or term paper. My son's first exposure to response papers was in college. He loved them and told me it was a format he wished we'd discovered earlier because it would have eased his writer's block in high school. The instructor had students write weekly response papers which generated copia for an end of term essay. ETA: her evaluations of response papers focused on content rather than form or style although she would count off for glaring shortcomings.

 

FWIW, the prompts/questions assigned by his instructor look a lot like the questions in WEM. ;)

Edited by Martha in NM
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Nan and I have frequently discussed the number of times our boys argued over the "stupidity" of assignments. Truly, if they put the amount of time and energy into the assignment that they gave to their arguments, the school work would be easily done.

 

:iagree: Oh, my goodness, yes, Yes, YES!!!

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