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Essay 3: Competition

          

Images from: Business Insider, WUNC 91.5, Utah Photojournalism

Draft, including outline and annotated bibliography: 50 points
Revised Draft/Essay: 100 points


The Hook:

In the United States, sibling rivalry, swim meets, and spelling bees teach children to compete to reach a goal and workplaces are fraught with stories about a "dog-eat-dog" world. Competition is deeply ingrained in Americans early in life and continues to be evident everywhere we turn: in reality show contests like “The Biggest Loser,”  in the political process such as a presidential race, and in sports events like the World Series.  Is our competitive culture what makes people thrive and achieve? How healthy is our competitive culture? What is the impact of competition on American life? In the chapter “Competition (or, is it in you?),” we will examine the evidence that illuminates several perspectives. We will also gather information from the College of Marin Library and evaluate what we find there.

The Question:
The chapter presents three assumptions:

  • Assumption 1: Competition is part of our DNA.
  • Assumption 2: Competition makes us better.
  • Assumption 3: Competitions define winners and losers.  

Which assumptions do you agree with? Which assumptions can you prove are true with evidence? Which assumptions can you disprove with evidence? For which assumptions do you have the strongest evidence? First, find evidence in Remix that could support or challenge these assumptions. Then, spend some time evaluating whether the evidence is credible and relevant with the help of classmates.  After closely examining your evidence, build an argumentative essay in which you present 3-4 clear points (conclusions) about what are the ways that competition affects Americans. Since this is a short research paper, your essay should focus narrowly on a particular segment of American society such as school-age students, youth in sports, or the workplace.  In your essay, your purpose is to use compelling evidence to persuade readers to agree with you about the impact of competition on the segment of American society you have chosen to focus on.

The Task:
In an essay of approximately 500-750 words, I would like you to (1) introduce your main idea about the topic (2) present a well-focused and specific thesis, at the end of the introduction (3) explain the opposing view (s) in the first body paragraph (4) identify and explain two or three main points (one per body paragraph), (5) incorporate evidence from sources within each body paragraph to support or illustrate a point  (6) draw some overall conclusions about the implications of your findings: what your ideas mean for American people.

This essay is research-based.  Before you run screaming out the door, please know that this is a SHORT paper and therefore you must limit your research to that which offers evidence in support of your points. You are required to strategically select and use four or five sources and no more:
You are required to use one or two sources from Remix.  In addition, you are required to use one or two first hand sources and one or two second hand sources from the College of Marin Library, which is search-able online. Sources must be documented correctly in MLA Style within the text of the essay and on a final page entitled Works Cited. Sources should make up no more than 20% of the paper. Failure to give attributions to all source material can result in a failing grade. Don’t let the research overtake your writing; let the paper come from you; let the paper present what you think.  What do you think?

Like with all essay writing in college, it is important to spend time thinking about how to manage your topic and how to approach the writing step by step; reflecting on your personal experience, interests and biases will help you to prewrite and narrow your focus while making PIEs will help you to find and develop clear points. Keep in mind that elements of writing you have learned about already in this course--such as thesis statements, outlining and PIE--apply to this assignment and so you may want to refer back to these "old" pages for guidance.   

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