Facebook has recently come under attack for failing to enforce its own guidelines on hate speech and violent imagery. Is it a website’s job to moderate the content users post, or should users have freedom to say what they want? Is there a happy medium?

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Dedicated to a Cause

Think of a contemporary or historical person who has dedicated his or her life to a cause.

  • What difficulties did he or she encounter while promoting the cause?
  • What were the results of his or her efforts?
  • Did the person experience any failures in representing the cause? If so, how did he or she handle them?
  • What successes did the person achieve?
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Argumentation and Persuasion

Develop one of the following topics into an essay of argumentation and/or persuasion, choosing the side you wish to take. (See also the guidelines that follow.)

1. Companies (should/should not) be held liable for their own pollution.
2. Adopted children (should/should not) be told who their “birth parents” are.
3. The government (should/should not) require less foreign programming on television.
4. Compulsory retirement at 65 should be (continued/abolished).
5. Pit bulls should be (legal/illegal).
6. “Streaming” of students in the high schools should be (increased/maintained/reduced/abolished).
7. Canadian foreign aid should be (increased/maintained/decreased).
8. The government (should/should not) require that all plastic containers be biodegradable.
9. The minimum driving age should be (raised/maintained/lowered).
10. Private ownership of handguns should be (allowed/prohibited).
11. Free trade between Canada and the United States will (increase/decrease) opportunities in the career I hope to enter.
12. Racism in Canada is (increasing/decreasing).
13. Canada should (permit/prohibit) irradiation of food.
14. Municipal recycling should be (optional/required).
15. Car insurance (should/should not) cost the same for males and females.
16. There (is/is not) life in outer space.
17. The Canadian Senate should be (maintained/changed/abolished).
18. Public transit (should/should not) be free.
19. Canada should (increase/maintain/decrease) its level of immigration.
20. Chemical additives to food (should/should not) be allowed.
21. The minimum drinking age should be (raised/maintained/lowered).
22. Medical experimentation on animals (should/should not) be permitted.
23. Official censorship of films should be (increased/maintained/decreased/abolished).
24. Canada should (increase/maintain/decrease/abolish) passenger rail service.
25. Stores (should/should not) be required to close on Sundays.

Process in Writing: Guidelines
Follow at least some of these steps in writing your essay of argumentation and/or persuasion.

1. Choose a good topic, then go to either 2 or 3 below.

2. DEDUCTION: Do you already know your point of view because of a moral or intellectual principle you hold? First examine that principle, the foundation of your argument: Is it extreme, or is it reasonable enough (and clear enough) that your AUDIENCE can accept it? If the latter, proceed. Make notes, then write a rapid first draft showing how the principle supports your point.


3. INDUCTION: Did experience or observation teach you the point you wish to make? First generate a page of notes. Then put these experiences or observations into the order that led you to your conclusion. Now transfer this argument to a rapid first draft.

4. You have probably organized your draft through a pattern. Cause and effect is a natural for either deduction or induction, and so is comparison and contrast. You have probably used examples, perhaps narrating or describing them. You might also have classified your subject, or cast your logic in a process analysis. Apart from analogy, which appeals more to emotion than to logic, your approach can serve deduction or induction. Use whatever works. If your first draft makes partial use of a major pattern, consider revising to extend the pattern and strengthen its effect.

5. As you look over your first draft, add any missing examples, especially if your argument is inductive (the more evidence, the better). Heighten your logic with signals such as “however,” “therefore,” “as a result,” and “in conclusion.”

6. Now Judge how argumentative or persuasive your approach has been so far. Does your cold logic need a little colour and life? If so, add it, consulting techniques of persuasion: WORD CHOICE, EXAMPLE, REPETITION, HYPERBOLE, ANALOGY, IRONY, APPEAL TO AUTHORITY, FRIGHT, CLIMAX. Or do your emotional appeals dominate your argument? Do they even encourage the audience not to think? If so, revise towards a more blended stance in your second draft.

7. Now cut all deadwood. Check for details of spelling and grammar. Write your good copy, then proofread it word by word. Save the essay in case your teacher suggests further revision.

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Contentious Issue

Pick a contentious issue about which you care deeply – it could be the same-sex marriage debate, or just a disagreement you’re having with a friend. Write a post defending the opposite position, and then reflect on what it was like to do that.

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Time Loop

In the comedy “Groundhog Day” Bill Murray experienced the same day again and again, stuck in a time loop until he got the day ?right.? What day would you choose to repeat until you got it right? Do you think it’s ever possible to get life “right”?

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Canadian Military Spending

Politicians often state that one letter received from a citizen is worth a thousand votes.

Decide whether you think Canada is spending too little or too much on the military.

Now write a letter to the Minister of Defence, arguing your point deductively.

Apply your premise to a specific example or examples, such as tanks, fighter planes, destroyers, submarines, etc.

As you look over your “discovery draft,” see whether you have specialized in either argumentation or persuasion. If your treatment seems too extreme, modify it in your next draft with a dose of the other approach, to produce a more combined approach.

In your final draft, edit for conciseness (the best letters to politicians are short).

Finally, submit your letter to your member of parliament.

Canadian Forces “Combat Camera”
Members of Parliament
Leon Benoit
Hon. Peter Gordon MacKay

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Is the big city “a wondrous toy” as the song goes, or is it a hill of swarming ants? Is it a creative showcase for a country’s talent and skill or is it a drain on the energies of millions of people who must struggle for survival from day to day? Can it be both? Is it something else? What does the city mean to you? Describe your view of the city in specific detail.

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The following poem is from The Journals of Susanna Moodie, by Margaret Atwood.

How relevant is this poem to the way we understand relationships, to the way we imagine relationships to be?

Support your response with reference (comparison/contrast) to one or more poems you’ve studied and to your previous knowledge and/or experience.

Further Arrivals
After we had crossed the long illness
that was the ocean, we sailed up-river

On the first island
the immigrants threw off their clothes
and danced like sandflies

We left behind one by one
the cities rotting with cholera,
one by one our civilized

and entered a large darkness.

It was our own
ignorance we entered.

I have not come out yet

My brain gropes nervous
tentacles in the night, sends out
fears hairy as bears,
demands lamps; or waiting

for my shadowy husband, hears
malice in the trees’ whispers.

I need wolf’s eyes to see
the truth.

I refuse to look in the mirror.

Whether the wilderness is
real or not
depends on who lives there.

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Balancing Job And Family

Interview a family member who works outside the home and takes care of a family. Find out how this person copes with the workload. how does he or she balance a job, family responsibilities, domestic work, and personal time. What is the biggest stress element.

Present your interview using a format of your choice:

  • a written transcript of the interview
  • an oral recording of the interview
  • a essay that includes quotations, facts, and conclusions.
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Your Autobiography

Create a short autobiography. Use these statements to get your ideas flowing:

  • My greatest achievement was…
  • My greatest loss was…
  • I have never felt happier than when…
  • I have never felt worse than when…
  • The funniest thing that ever happened to me was…
  • The most embarrassing thing that ever happened to me was…
  • The person who has influenced me the most is…
  • What is important to me is…
  • My future goals are…

You may wish to write your autobiography chronologically or in another way that seems appropriate. Include photos and keepsakes to illustrate your narrative.

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Introduction to Modernism Research Topics

Modernism Introduction
Modernism Themes

Make It New: The Rise of Modernism

Research these thinkers: Karl Marx, the naturalist Charles Darwin, the philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, and the psychiatrist Sigmund Freud. What were their most important insights? What previous explanations did their writings reject? How do their ideas affect the world today?

Most of the important modernist writers were born between 1880 and 1900, and most of them died in the 1960s. The world changed dramatically in the intervening period. In 1890 what were the world’s great powers? Who were its important leaders? What were the important issues in international relations? What products did people use? How did people travel from place to place? Compare the answers to these questions to what the world looked like in 1965.

Modernism evolved as an artistic reaction to dramatic changes in politics, culture, society, and technology. Research some of the technologies that were developed in the late 1800s and early 1900s that might have literally changed the world. Some of the inventions you might want to investigate might be the technologies that captured and recorded reality (photography, sound recording, film), the technologies of communication, the technologies of transportation, and the technologies of weaponry.

Tips: connect the ideas you develop to course focus questions on the human condition.

Snowflakes: Philosophy
Snowflakes: Thought Experiments

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If you had the opportunity to live a nomadic life, traveling from place to place, would you do it? Do you need a home base? What makes a place “home” to you?

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