334 CHAPTER r I rnoiU INTRoDUCTIONS TO CONCLUSIONS: DRAFTING AN ESSAY
In writing a conclusion to your essay, you are making a final appeal to
your audience. You want to convince readers that what you have written
is a relevant, meaningful interpretation of a shared issue. You also want
to remind them that your argument is reasonable. Rather than summarize all of the points you've made in the essay-assume your readers have
carefully read what you've written-pull together the key components
of your argument in the service of answering the question "So what?"
Establish why your argument is important: What will happen if things stay
the same? What will happen if things change? How effective your conclusion is depends on whether or not readers feel that you have adequately
addressed "So what?"-that you have made clear what is significant and
In building on the specific details of your argument, you can also
place what you have written in a broader context. (What are the sociologi-
cal implications of your argument? How far-reaching are they? Are there
political implications? Economic implications?) Finally, explain again
how your ideas contribute something new to the conversation by building
on, extending, or even challenging what others have argued.
In her concluding paragraph, Elizabeth Martinez brings together her
main points, puts her essay in a broader context, indicates what's new in
her argument, and answers the question "So what?":
Accepting the implications of a different narrative could also shed light on
today's struggles. In the affirmative-action struggle, for example, opponents
have said that that policy is no longer needed because racism ended with
the Civil Rights Movement. But if we look at slavery as a fundamental pillar
ofthis nation, going back centuries, it becomes obvious that racism could
not have been ended by thirty years of mild reforms. If we see how the myth
of the frontier idealized the white male adventurer as the central hero of
national history with the woman as sunbonneted helpmate, then we might
better understand the dehumanized ways in which women have continued
to be treated. A more truthful origin narrative could also help break down
divisions among peoples of color by revealing common experiences and
histories of cooperation.
Let's examine this concluding paragraph:
1. Although Martinez refers back to important events and ideas she has
discussed, she does not merely summarize. Instead, she suggests the
implications of those important events and ideas in her first sentence
(the topic sentence), which crystallizes the main point of her essay:
Americans need a different origin narrative.
2. Then she puts those implications in the broader context of contemporary racial and gender issues.
From Greene, Stuart, and April Lidinsky. From Inquiry to Academic Writing: A
Text and Reader, Macmillian, 2018.
3. She signals what's new in her argument with the word if (if we look at
slavety in a new way; if we look at the frontier myth in a new way).
4. Finally, her answers to why this issue matters culminate in the last sentence. This last sentence connects and extends the claim of her topic
sentence, by asserting that a "more truthful origin narrative" could
help heal divisions among peoples of color who have been misrepresented by the old origin myth. Clearly, she believes the implications of
her argument matter: A new national identity has the potential to heal
a country in crisis, a country on the verge of a "nervous breakdown"
Marlinez also does something else in the last sentence of the concluding paragraph: She looks to the future, suggesting what the future
implications of her argument could be. Looking to the future is one of
five strategies for shaping a conclusion. The others we discuss are echoing
the introduction, chalienging the reader, posing questions, and concluding
with a quotation. Each of these strategies appeals to readers in different
ways; therefore, we suggest you try them all out in writing your own conclusions. Also, remember that some of these strategies can be combined.
For example, you can write a conclusion that challenges readers, poses a
question, looks to the future, and ends with a quotation.
r Echo the Introduction
Echoing the introduction in your conclusion helps readers come full circle. It helps them see how you have developed your idea from beginning
to end. In the following example, the student writer begins with a voice
speaking from behind an Islamic veil, revealing the ways that Western culture misunderstands the symbolic value of wearing the veil' The writer
repeats this visual image in her conclusion, quoting from the Koran:
"Speak to them from behind a curtain."
Noticeihatthe Introduction: A voice from behind the shrouds of an Islamjc veil
author begins with "a
exctaims: "I often wonder whether people see me as a radical,
shroudaofanlslamic fundamentalist Mustim terrorjst packing an AK-47 assault rifLe
-:", andthen eohoes
:: tn ner
rnside myjean jacket. 0r maybe they see me as the poster girl for
conciusion:"9peakto oppressed womanhood everywhere." In American cutture where
themfro.mbehinda shametess pubLic exposure, particul.arly of femaLes, epitomizes
uttimate freedom, the head-to-toe covering of a Muslim woman
seems inherentLy oppressive. Driven by an autonomous national
attitude, the inhabitants of the "[and of the free" are quick
to equate the vejL with indisputabLe persecution. Yet Muslim
women reveal the enslaving hijab as a symbolic disptay of the
- honor, modesty. and stability. Because of an
unfair American assessment. the aura of hijab mystery cannot
336 CHAPTER il
FROM INTRODUCTIONS TO CONCLUSIONS: DRAFTING AN ESSAY
be removed untiI the customs and ethics of Mus[im cuLture are
genuine[y exptored. It is this form of enigmatic seclusion that
forms the feminist controversy between Western [iberats, who
perceive the vejl as an inhjbiting factor against free wit[, and
Istamic disciptes, who conceptuatize the veiI as a sacred symboI
of utmost mora[ity.
ConcLusion: For those who improperlyjudge an atien religion, the
veil becomes a symbol of oppression and devastation. instead of
a representation of pride and piety. Despite Western images. the
hijab is a daity revitatization and reminder of the Is[amic societaI
and retigious idea[s, thereby uphotding the conduct and attitudes
of the Muslim community. Americans share these idea[s yet fait to
recognize them in the context of a different culture. By sincerety
exploring the custom of Istamic veiting, one wj[[ realize the
vital role the hijab ptays in shaping Mustim culture by sheltering
women. and consequentty society, from the perils that erupt
from indecency. The principtes implored in the Koran of modesty.
introduction in its
referenceto a voice
speaking from behind
honor, and stabitity construct a unifying and moral view of the
Istamic Middte Eastern society when property investigated. As it
was transcribed from Attah, "Speak to them from behind a curtain.
This is purer for your hearts and their hearts."
r Chqllenge the Reoder
By issuing a challenge to your readers, you create a sense of urgency,
provoking them to act to change the status quo. In this example, the student writer explains the unacceptable consequences of preventing young
women fi om educating themselves about AIDS and the spread of a disease
that has already reached epidemic proportions.
The changes in AIDS education that I am suggesting are necessary
and retatively simpte to make. Although the current curricutum
in high schooI health ctasses is hetpful, and informative, it simpLy
does not pertain to young women as much as it shoutd. AIDS
Heretheauthor is kitLing women at an alarming rate, and many people do not
research to emohasize
realize this. According to Daniet DeNoon, AIDS is one of the six
teading causes of death among women aged 18 to 45, and women
"bear the brunt of the worldwide AIDS epidemic." For this reason,
Hereshebeginsher DeNoon argues, women are one of the most important new
exolicit challenae to
populations that are contractins HIV at a hish rate. I challenge
theyhavetodoto young women to be more wetl-informed about AIDS and their
Ljnk to the disease; otherwise, many new cases may devetop. As
their student6 from
epidemic continues to spread, women need to realize that
they can stop the spread of the disease and protect themselves
from infection and a number of retated comptications. It is the
responsibitity of heatth educators to present this to young women
and inform them of the powerful choices that they can make.
r look to the Future
Looking to the future is particularly relevant when you are asking readers
to take action. To move readers to action, you must establish the persistence of a problem and the consequences of letting a situation continue
unchanged. In the concluding paragraph below, the student author points
out a number of things that teachers need to do to involve parents in their
children's education. She identifies a range of options before identifying
what she believes is perhaps the most important action teachers can take.
First and foremost, teachers must recognize the ways in whjch
some parents are positively contributing to their chjldren's
The aecond through
present an array of
academic endeavors. Teachers must recognize nontraditional
methods of participation as legitimate and work toward
supporting parents in these tasks. For instance, teachers might
send home suggestions for locaI after-schooI tutoring programs.
Teachers must atso try to make urban parents feel wetcome and
respected in their schoo[. Teachers might ca[[ parents to ask
their opinion about a cerlain difficutty their child is having, or
invite them to talk about something of jnterest to them. One
parent. for jnstance, spoke highLy of the previous superintendent
who had let him use his work as a film producer to help with a
show for students during homeroom. If teachers can develop
jnnovative ways to utilize parents'talents and interests rather
than just inviting them to be passively involved in an alreadyin-place curricu[um, more parents might respond. Perhaps, most
important[y. if teachers want parents to be jnvolved in students'
educations, they must make the parents feeI as though their
opinions and concerns have real weight. When parents such as
those jnterviewed for thjs study voice concerns and questions over
writer looks to the
future with her
their chjtd's progress, it is imperative that teachers acknowledge
and answer them.
r Pose Questions
Posing questions stimulates readers to think about the implications of
your argument and to apply what you argue to other situations. This is
the case in the following paragraph, in which the student r,'n'riter focuses
on immigration and then shifts readers' attention to racism and the
338 CHAeTER I I I rnortt tNTRoDUcTIoNS To coNcLUStoNS: DRAFTING AN EssAY
possibility of hate crimes. It's useful to extrapolate from your argument, to
raise questions that test whether what you write can be applied to different
situations. These questions can help readers understand what is at issue.
ALso, my research may apply to a broader spectrum of sociotogicaL
topics. There has been recent discussjon about the increasing
trend of immigration. Much of thjs discussion has jnvotved the
The first queation,
djstribution of resources to immigrants. ShouLd immigrants have
equaL access to certain economic and educational resources in
America? The decision is split. But it wjtt be interesting to see
how this debate wil.l play out. If immigrants are granted more
queations follow from
resources, wit[ certain Americans mobilize against the distrjbution
to the writer's first
of these resources? Wil[ we see another rise in racjst groups such
as the Ku K[ux KLan jn order to prevent immigrants from obtaining
more resources? My research can also be used to understand
g[obal confl"ict or war. In genera[, groups mobiLize when thejr
estabLished resources are threatened by an externaI force.
Moreover. groups use framing processes to justify their colLective
action to others.
r Conclude with o Quototion
A quotation can strengthen your argument, indicating that others in positions of power and authority support your stance. A quotation also can
add poignancy to your argument, as it does in the following excerpt, in
which the quotation amplifies the idea that people use Barbie to advance
their own interests.
The question sti[[ remajns, what does Barbie mean? Is she the
spokeswoman for the empowerment of women, or rather js
she performing the dirty work of conservatjve patriarchy? I do
not think we wilL ever know the answer. Rather, Barbie is the
undeniabte "American Icon." She is a toy, and she js what we
want her to be. A test performed by Atbert M. Magro at Fairmont
State Cotlege titted "Why Barbie is Perceived as Beautifut" shows
that Barbie is the epitome ofwhat we as humans find beautifut.
The test sought to find human preferences on evolutionary
changes in the human body. Subjects were shown a serjes of
photos comparing different human body parts, such as the size
and shape of the eyes, and asked to decide which feature they
preferred: the primitive or derived (more evolved traits). The test
revealed that the subjects preferred the derjved body traits.
is these preferred evolutionary features that are utiLized on the
body of Barbie. Barbie is truly an extension of what we are and
The writer quotes
what we perceive. Juel Best concludes his discourse on Barb.ie
with these words: "Toys do not embody viotence or sexism or
occu[t meanings. PeopLe must assign toys their meanings."
that individually and
co I I ective ly, we p roj ect
Barbie is whoever we make her out to be. Barbie grabs hotd of our
imaginations and lets us go wil.d.
Pull together the main claims of your essay. Dont simply repeat
points you make in the paper. Instead, show readers how the
points you make fit together.
Answer the question "So what?" Show your readers r.vhy your
stand on the issue is significant.
Place your argument in a larger context. Discuss the specifics of
your argument, but also indicate its broader implications.
Show readers what is new. As you synthesize the key points of
your argument, explain how what you argue builds on, extends,
or challenges the thinking of others.
Decide on the best strategy for writing your conclusion. Will
you echo the introduction? Challenge the reader? Look to the
future? Pose questions? Conclude with a quotation? Choose the
best strategy or strategies to appeal to your readers.
A Prqctice Sequence: Drofting o Conclusion
Write your conclusion, using one of the strategies described in
this section. Then share your conclusion with a classmate. Ask
this person to address the following questions:
. Did I pull together the key points of the argument?
. Did I answer "so what?" adequately?
r Are the implications I want readers to draw from the essay
After listening to the responses, try a second strategy, and then ask
your classmate which conclusion is more effective.
If you do not have a conclusion of your own, analyze each
example conclusion above to see how well each appears to (1)
pull together the main claim of the essay, (2) answer "So what?"
(3) place the argument in a larger context, and (4) show readers
what is new.
From Greene, Stuart, and April Lidinsky. From Inquiry to Academic
Writing: A Text and Reader, Macmillian, 2018.
From Introductions to Conclusions
Drafting an Essay
n this chapter, we describe strategies for crafting introductions that set up
your argument. We then describe the characteristics of well-formulated
paragraphs that will help you build your argument. Finally, we provide
you with some strategies for writing conclusions that reinforce what is
new about your argument, what is at stake, and what readers should do
with the knowledge you convey.
The introduction is where you set up your argument. It's where you establish that the issue or problem you focus on is timely and relevant, identify
a widely held assumption or gap, challenge that assumption or suggest
how your research will fill that gap, and state your thesis. You can also
state the question that motivates your research and reframe or change the
"conversation" in order to prompt readers to see an issue in a new way.
Writers use a number of strategies to set up their arguments. In this section we look at six of them:
• Moving from a general topic and issue to a specific thesis (invertedtriangle introduction)
• Introducing the issue with a story (narrative introduction)
• Beginning with a question (interrogative introduction)
• Capturing readers' attention with something unexpected (paradoxical
• Identifying a gap in knowledge (minding-the-gap introduction)
• Changing the conversation (reframing introduction)
Remember that an introduction need not be limited to a single paragraph.
It may take several paragraphs to effectively set up your argument, as we
indicate in Chapter 6.
Keep in mind that you have to make these strategies your own. That is,
we can suggest models, but you must make them work for your own argument. You must imagine your readers and what will engage them using
appeals to their emotions, sensibilities, and intellect. What will you do to
get readers to follow your line of argument? What tone do you want to take?
Playful? Serious? Formal? Urgent? The attitude you want to convey will
depend on your purpose, your argument, and the needs of your audience.
■ The Inverted-Triangle Introduction
An inverted-triangle introduction, like an upside-down triangle, is
broad at the top and pointed at the base. It begins with a description of
the problem or issue and then narrows its focus, ending with the point
of the paragraph (and the triangle), the writer's thesis. We can see this
strategy at work in the following introduction from a student's essay. The
student writer (1) begins with a broad description of the problem she will
address, (2) then focuses on a set of widely held but troublesome assumptions, and (3) finally, presents her thesis in response to what she sees as a
The student begins
with a general set of
education that she
believes people readily
She then cites author
bell hooks to identify
an approach that
makes use of these
assumptions - the
"banking system" of
education, a term
hooks borrows from
educator Paulo Freire.
The student then
points to the banking
system as the source
of a misconception or
gap that she wants
to correct. This sets
up her thesis about
the "true purpose" of
In recent debates focusing on curricular reform in schools,
many voice the belief that education's sole purpose is to
communicate information for students to store and draw on
as necessary. By storing this information, students hope to
perform well on tests. Good test scores assure good grades.
Good grades eventually lead to acceptances into good colleges, which ultimately guarantee good jobs. Many teachers
and students, convinced that education exists as a tool to
secure good jobs, rely on the banking system. In her essay
"Teaching to Transgress," bell hooks defines the banking
system as an "approach to learning that is rooted in the
notion that all students need to do is consume information
fed to them by a professor and be able to memorize and
store it" (185). Through the banking system, students focus
solely on facts, missing the important themes and life lessons
available in classes and school materials. The banking system
misdirects the fundamental goals of education. Education's
true purpose is to prepare students for the real world by
allowing them access to pertinent life knowledge available in
their studies. Education should then entice students to apply
this pertinent life knowledge to daily life struggles through
praxis. In addition to her definition of the banking system,
hooks offers the idea of praxis from the work of Paulo Freire.
When incorporated into education, praxis, or "action and
FROM INTRODUCTIONS TO CONCLUSIONS: DRAFTING AN ESSAY
reflection upon the world in order to change it" (185), offers
an advantageous educational tool that enhances the true
purpose of education and overcomes the banking system.
The strategy of writing an introduction as an inverted triangle entails
first identifying an idea, an argument, or a concept that people appear to
accept as true; next, pointing out the problems with that idea, argument,
or concept; and then, in a few sentences, setting out a thesis. It's import
ant to acknowledge and evaluate multiple perspectives to pave the way
for you to present your own position. In this case, the student writer chal
lenges an assumption by offering alternative perspectives and providing
multiple voices-her own and the published authors who also call atten
tion to the purpose of education that others have overlooked.
■ The Narrative Introduction
Opening with a short narrative, or story, is a strategy many writers use
successfully to draw readers into the problem that they want to address.
A narrative introduction relates a sequence of events and can be espe
cially effective if you think you need to coax indifferent or reluctant read
ers into taking an interest in the topic that you believe they should know
about. Of course, a narrative introduction delays the declaration of your
argument, so it's wise to choose a short story that clearly connects to
your argument and get to the thesis as quickly as possible (within a few
paragraphs) before your readers start wondering "What's the point of this
Notice how the student writer uses a narrative introduction to her
argument in her essay titled "Throwing a Punch at Gender Roles: How
Women's Boxing Empowers Women."
The student's entire
first paragraph is a
narrative that takes
us into the world of
women's boxing and
Glancing at my watch, I ran into the gym, noting to myself
that being late to the first day of boxing practice was not
the right way to make a good first impression. I flew down
the stairs into the basement, to the room the boxers have
lovingly dubbed "The Pit." What greeted me when I got there
was more than I could ever have imagined. Picture a room
filled with boxing gloves of all sizes covering an entire wall,
a mirror covering another, a boxing ring in a comer, and an
awesome collection of framed newspaper and magazine arti
cles chronicling the boxers whose pictures were hanging on
every wall. Now picture that room with seventy-plus girls on
the floor doing push-ups, sweat dripping down their faces.
I was immediately struck by the discipline this sport would
require of me, but I had no idea I would take so much more
With her narrative
as a backdrop, the
a problem, using the
transition word 'yet"
to mark her challenge
to the conditions
she observes in the
The writer then states
her thesis (what her
paper "will show''):
Despite the problems
women's boxing offers
The university offers the only nonmilitary-based
college-level women's boxing program in America, and it
also offers women the chance to push their physical limits
in a regulated environment. Yet the program is plagued
with disappointments. I have experienced for myself the
stereotypes female boxers face and have dealt with the
harsh reality that boxing is still widely recognized as only a
men's sport. This paper will show that the women's boxing
program at Notre Dame serves as a much-needed outlet
for females to come face-to-face with aspects of themselves
they would not typically get a chance to explore. It will also
examine how viewing this sport as a positive opportunity
for women at ND indicates that there is growing hope that
very soon more activities similar to women's boxing may
be better received by society in general. I will accomplish
these goals by analyzing scholarly journals, old Observer [the
school newspaper] articles, and survey questions answered
by the captains of the 20-- women's boxing team of ND.
The student writer uses a visually descriptive narrative to introduce us to
the world of women's college boxing; then, in the second paragraph, she
steers us toward the purpose of the paper and the methods she will use to
develop her argument about what women's boxing offers to young women
and to the changing world of sports.
A variation on the strategy of setting up an argument with a story
is to create a scenario. In the following example, the writer invites readers to imagine a familiar scene that, for many, conjures up assumptions
about youth the author wants to change. Notice how Nancy Lesko, a distinguished professor of education, uses this strategy of creating a scenario
in Act Your Age: A Cultural Construction of Adolescence to "complicate" the
nature of identity and "trouble" common misperceptions of adolescence.
The first paragraph
is a scenario that
invites readers to
reflect on a seemingly
and ve,y subtly begins
to challenge readers'
references in quotes,
such as "another tribe"
and the much-quoted
"the trouble with
Consider for a moment some familiar public spaces: your
local mall, a Cineplex, the outside seating of fast food restaurants, a bowling alley, skateboarding sites, video arcades, or
buses around 3 P.M. any Monday through Friday. Ubiquitous in all of those spaces are teenagers-almost always in
groups and sporting hair, clothes, piercing, and attitudes that
mark them as belonging to "another tribe." Teenagers are
so obvious and omnipresent that we seem hardly to notice
them unless their peals of laughter cause us to nervously
look their way or they interfere with the expected movement
or pace of a common task such as standing in line or shopping for groceries, or they walk too close on the street or in
the mall. The ubiquity of teenagers in social spaces beyond
households and schools is matched by their prominence in
The writer folfow5 thi5
5cenario and ana/y5i5
with her intention to
and correct 5ome
adult5 have about
youth. 1he5e fa/5e
rooted in fiction.
The author offer5 a
per5pective that i5
ba5ed more on reality.
FROM INTRODUCTIONS TO CONCLUSIONS: DRAFTING AN ESSAY
our talk. .. . They are most often spoken of with familiarity,
sometimes with affection, and regularly with some hostility
or displeasure. In these various venues and with decidedly
mixed emotions, we talk about "the trouble with teenagers."
This book takes a closer look at these "troubling teenagers"
as stock characters in popular narratives, scientific discourses,
and educational programs via endlessly repeated stories-clinical and anecdotal-of instability, emotionality, present-centeredness, and irresponsibility. The ubiquitousness of teenagers
with problems, their ability to outrage or worry adults, and the
certainty about their naturally-occurring "nature" beg scrutiny.
The ready construction of young people into numerous public
problems-most recently violent Internet suburbanites, teenage mothers, and urban criminals-suggests that teenagers are
complex and malleable accomplishments with broad political
and social effects. The overarching aim of this book is to "trouble" these common conceptions of adolescents.
The way the writer uses images can be an effective way to invite reflection
on what seems familiar. Is this the way I see youth? Is the author accurate
in what she describes? Is her research a credible source for challenging
■ The Interrogative Introduction
An interrogative introduction invites readers into the conversation of
your essay by asking one or more questions, which the essay goes on to
answer. This is an issue-based question (see Chapter 5) that will pique
your readers' interest, enticing them to read on to discover how your
insights shed light on the issue. Notice the question Daphne Spain, a professor of urban and environmental planning, uses to open her essay "Spatial Segregation and Gender Stratification in the Workplace."
Spain 5et5 up her
argument by a5king
a que5tion and then
it with a reference to a
In the third 5entence,
5he 5tate5 her
the5i5 - that men
and women have very
little contact in the
Finally, 5he outline5
the effect5 that thi5
lack of contact ha5 on
To what extent do women and men who work in different
occupations also work in different space? Baran and Teegarden propose that occupational segregation in the insurance
industry is "tantamount to spatial segregation by gender" since
managers are overwhelmingly male and clerical staff are predominantly female. This essay examines the spatial conditions
of women's work and men's work and proposes that working
women and men come into daily contact with one another
very infrequently. Further, women's jobs can be classified as
"open floor," but men's jobs are more likely to be "closed door."
That is, women work in a more public environment with less
control of their space than men. This lack of spatial control
both reflects and contributes to women's lower occupational
status by limiting opportunities for the transfer of knowledge
from men to women.
By the end of this introductory paragraph, Spain has explained some of
the terms she will use in her essay (open floor and closed door) and has
offered in her final sentence a clear statement of her thesis.
In "Harry Potter and the Technology of Magic," literature scholar
Elizabeth Teare begins by contextualizing the Harry Potter publishing
phenomenon. Then she raises a question about what fueled this success
In her first four sentences, Teare describes
something she is
curious about and she
hopes readers will be
curious about - the
popularity of the Harry
In the fifth sentence,
Teare asks the question
she will try to answer in
the rest of the essay.
Finally, in the last
sentence, Teare offers
a partial answer to her
question - her thesis.
The July/August 2001 issue of Book lists J. K. Rowling as one
of the ten most influential people in publishing. She shares
space on this list with John Grisham and Oprah Winfrey,
along with less famous but equally powerful insiders in the
book industry. What these industry leaders have in common
is an almost magical power to make books succeed in the
marketplace, and this magic, in addition to that performed
with wands, Rowling's novels appear to practice. Opening
weekend sales charted like those of a blockbuster movie (not
to mention the blockbuster movie itself), the reconstruction
of the venerable New York Times bestseller lists, the creation of a new nation's worth of web sites in the territory of
cyberspace, and of course the legendary inspiration of tens
of millions of child readers-the Harry Potter books have
transformed both the technologies of reading and the way
we understand those technologies. What is it that makes
these books-about a lonely boy whose first act on learning
he is a wizard is to go shopping for a wand-not only an
international phenomenon among children and parents and
teachers but also a topic of compelling interest to literary,
social, and cultural critics? I will argue that the stories the
books tell, as well as the stories we're telling about them,
enact both our fantasies and our fears of children's literature
and publishing in the context of twenty-first-century commercial and technological culture.
In the final two sentences of the introduction, Teare raises her question
about the root of this "international phenomenon" and then offers her
thesis. By the end of the opening paragraph, then, the reader knows
exactly what question is driving Teare's essay and the answer she proposes
to explain throughout the essay.
■ The Paradoxical Introduction
A paradoxical introduction appeals to readers' curiosity by pointing out
an aspect of an issue that runs counter to their expectations. Just as an
interrogative introduction draws readers in by asking a question, a paradoxical introduction draws readers in by saying, in effect, "Here's something completely surprising and unlikely about this issue, but my essay
FROM INTRODUCTIONS TO CONCLUSIONS: DRAFTING AN ESSAY
will go on to show you how it is true." In this passage from "'Holding
Back': Negotiating a Glass Ceiling on Women's Muscular Strength,"
sociologist Shari L. Dworkin points to a paradox in our commonsense
understanding of bodies as the product of biology, not culture.
In the first sentence,
Dworkin quotes from a
study to identify the
thinking that she is
going to challenge.
Notice how Dworkin
signals her own
relative to commonly
Dworkin ends by
stating her thesis,
noting a paradox that
will surprise readers.
Current work in gender studies points to how "when
examined closely, much of what we take for granted about
gender and its causes and effects either does not hold
up, or can be explained differently." These arguments
become especially contentious when confronting nature/
culture debates on gendered bodies. After all, "common
sense" frequently tells us that flesh and blood bodies
are about biology. However, bodies are also shaped and
constrained through cumulative social practices, structures
of opportunity, wider cultural meanings, and more.
Paradoxically, then, when we think that we are "really
seeing" naturally sexed bodies, perhaps we are seeing the
effect of internalizing gender ideologies-carrying out
social practices-and this constructs our vision of "sexed"
Dworkin's strategy in the first three sentences is to describe common practice, the understanding that bodies are biological. Then, in the sentences
beginning "However" and "Paradoxically," she advances the surprising
idea that our bodies-not just the clothes we wear, for example-carry
cultural gender markers. Her essay then goes on to examine women's
weightlifting and the complex motives driving many women to create a
body that is perceived as muscular but not masculine.
■ The Minding-the-Gap Introduction
This type of introduction takes its name from the British train system,
the voice on the loudspeaker that intones "Mind the gap!" at every stop,
to call riders' attention to the gap between the train car and the platform.
In a minding-the-gap introduction, a writer calls readers' attention to a
gap in the research on an issue and then uses the rest of the essay to fill in
the "gap." A minding-the-gap introduction says, in effect, "Wait a minute.
There's something missing from this conversation, and my research and
ideas will fill in this gap."
For example, in the introductory paragraphs to her edited collection
of published essays, Transforming the City: Community Organizing and the
Challenges of Political Change , professor of political science and urban
studies Marion Orr calls attention to the "decline of civic engagement"
and misplaced priorities in the United States.
In the first paragraph, the
author provides a review of
research that serves as a
backdrop for stating the
problem. The author then
underscores a trend (the
issue) that has concerned
many different observers
and that has had
for people who have the
greatest needs. Invoking
the voices of other
writers, she reminds
us of the importance of
perspectives in our writing.
The author then offers
a possible strateqy to
address the issue she
raises at the end of the
There is considerable discussion and increasing concerns
about the declining levels of civic engagement in the United
States. A recent study produced by a group of scholars
affiliated with the American Political Science Association
(APSA) proclaimed that "American democracy is at risk"
because Americans have turned away from public and civic
life. Robert Putnam used the "bowling alone" metaphor to
describe the decline in membership in civic organizations,
fraternal groups, parent-teacher associations, Boy Scouts,
and many other organizations. Theda Skocpol attributes
part of America's "diminished democracy" to the rise of professional advocacy groups .... According to the study sponsored by APSA, "Americans have turned away from politics
and the public sphere in large numbers, leaving our civic life
Most observers agree that the decline of civic engagement and the hijacking of locally rooted organizations are
not good news for the United States and that the problem
is magnified and implications far-reaching in the country's
central cities. Stephen Macedo and his colleagues point to
metropolitan areas and their central cities as places "where
the most serious challenges to healthy democratic life are
also found." With higher concentrations of low-income and
disadvantaged residents, cities are disproportionately hurt
by civic disengagement .... Is there a strategy that could
address many of the social and economic challenges facing
central cities and help reinvigorate civic engagement in
urban communities? This book explores community organizing as just such a strategy.
Orr uses this two-paragraph introduction to highlight what she finds
problematic about increasing "civic disengagement" by ordinary citizens,
as opposed to "top-down organizations, and the lack of focus on populations that most need access to resources." She also raises a question that
implicitly asks readers how they might approach the problem, if they
agree there is one, and introduce readers to her own approach.
■ The Reframing Introduction
Reframing a discussion provides a new perspective that others may have
overlooked. Often reframing involves defining a word or phrase in a new
way or creating a new term to offer a lens through which to challenge
an idea, concept, or experience that others have written about. Naming
something is also memorable and can have a powerful influence on the
FROM INTRODUCTIONS TO CONCLUSIONS: DRAFTING AN ESSAY
ways readers see an issue. Consider how Noliwe Rooks, author of four
books and director of American Studies at Cornell University, reframes a
familiar narrative of inequality in American public education.
The road necessarily traveled to achieve freedom and
equality in the United States leads directly through public
education. For American citizens who are neither white
nor wealthy, the journey has often been twisted and turned
before leading back to the beginning, exposing stark tensions
between racial and economic integration as an educational
strategy and the strategy that champions separate but equal
schools as America's ideology of choice. Since the earliest
days when tax-supported public education was conceived
and implemented, there have been intractable tensions
between how economics, or race-or both-determine the
funding, form, and purpose of education in America ... .
It is then not surprising that students educated in
The author follows this
brief historical overview
wealthy schools perform well as measured by standard educaby coining a word,
tional benchmarks. Students educated in poor schools do not.
''segrenomics," to reframe
While there have been times in our nation's history when we
the ways readers think
about race, class, and
have acknowledged the damage inflicted by separate educainequality in education.
tional systems on our constitutionally enshrined rights of citizenship, with few exceptions we have found little incentive to
commit ourselves to integrating both halves of this literal and
figurative schoolhouse. Racial and economic integration is
the one systemic solution that we know ensures the tide will
lift all educational boats equally. However, instead of committing to educating poor children in the same way as we do the
wealthy, or actually with the wealthy, we have offered separate
educational content (such as reoccurring vocational education for the poor) and idiosyncratic forms of delivery (such as
virtual charter schools and cyber education) as substitutes for
what we know consistently works. While not ensuring educational equality, such separate, segregated, and unequal forms
of education have provided the opportunity for businesses to
make a profit selling schooling. I am calling this specific form
of economic profit segrenomics.
The author begins her
introduction by calling
attention to how
in school funding are
influenced by race and
The author is strategic in setting up the narrative and using the word
"however," to force readers to pause and reconsider past solutions ("Racial
and economic integration is the one systemic solution") to a persistent
problem. Reframing separate and unequal schooling as "segrenomics"
serves the author's purpose of describing what she sees as exploitation
(opportunity for businesses to make a profit selling schooling). Thus
she shifts the conversation from one that centers on school funding to a
broader problem that readers need to know about.
D Use an inverted triangle. Begin with a broad situation, concept,
or idea, and narrow the focus to your thesis.
E) Begin with a narrative or scenario. Capture readers' imagination
and interest with a story that sets the stage for your argument.
EJ Ask a question that you will answer. Provoke readers' interest
with a question, and then use your thesis to answer the question.
ri] Present a paradox. Begin with an assumption that readers
accept as true and formulate a thesis that not only challenges
that assumption but may very well seem paradoxical.
El Mind the gap. Identify what readers know and then what they
don't know (or what you believe they need to know).
r:1 Reframe the conversation. Describe an idea, concept, or experience that is familiar to most readers and use a framing concept
to name and redirect the focus on an issue that others may have
ignored or overlooked.
A Practice Sequence: Drafting an Introduction
Write or rewrite your introduction (which, as you've seen, may
involve more than one paragraph), using one of the six drafting
strategies discussed in this chapter. Then share your introduction
with one of your peers and ask the following questions:
• To what extent did the strategy compel you to want to read
• To what extent is my thesis clear?
• How effectively do I draw a distinction between what I believe
others assume to be true and my own approach?
• Is there another way that I might have made my introduction
After listening to the responses , try a second strategy and then
ask your peer which introduction is more effective.
If you do not have your own introduction to work on, revise the
introduction below from a student's essay, combining two of the
six drafting strategies we've discussed in this chapter.
News correspondent Pauline Frederick once commented, "When a man
gets up to speak people listen then look. When a woman gets up, people look; then, if they like what they see, they listen." Ironically, the
harsh reality of this statement is given life by the ongoing controversy
What Is Education For?
Instructor: DAVID BORDELON
What Is Education For?
In the 21st century, the cause of schooling goes beyond, without a doubt, getting ready
students for the staff. It is about equipping them with the competencies and understanding
essential to navigate an unsure and rapidly converting international. The purpose of higher
training isn't always just personnel readiness but global readiness. This means providing students
with the intellectual toolkit to become independent, critical thinkers who can solve problems
using various methods.
Traditional education models, focused on discipline-specific knowledge and rote
memorization, are no longer sufficient. Students must be adaptable and resilient in a disrupted
and disturbing economy where entire industries and professions change or disappear. They must
be prepared for a future where jobs may be contingent, on-demand, and lacking security or
advancement opportunities. Furthermore, students today are not content with simply acquiring
skills for a changing world. They want to be change-makers and contribute to society in
meaningful ways. They want to understand the world enough to lead it and address significant
social issues (Allen, 2016). This requires a new kind of education that goes beyond job training
and focuses on developing critical thinking, problem-solving, and creativity.
The evolving nature of schooling in the virtual age has delivered widespread adjustments
in how we approach coaching and mastering. With the advent of technology, training has
become more available and bendy, bearing in mind personalized and self-paced learning reviews
(Meier, 2016). However, this also presents challenges in ensuring equitable access to the right of
entry to era and digital resources and addressing the troubles of records overload and virtual
Disparities in academic access and effects persist, both globally and within international
locations. Socioeconomic elements, including earnings and race, regularly decide the first-rate
training individuals achieve. This perpetuates inequality and bounds possibilities for social
mobility (Meier, 2016). It is essential to deal with those disparities and ensure that all students
have the same entry to a first-class education, regardless of their history.
The debate between conventional and progressive education fashions also shapes the
cause of schooling in the 21st century. Traditional models emphasize subject-unique knowledge
and standardized trying out, even as advanced fashions cognizance of significant wondering,
problem-solving, and creativity (Meier, 2016). There is a want to strike a stability between these
tactics, spotting the significance of foundational information and equipping students with the
abilities vital to thrive in a swiftly changing world.
Traditionalists argue that the motive of schooling within the twenty-first century must
ordinarily be targeted on transmitting discipline-unique know-how and making ready students
for the team of workers. They believe that a strong basis in center topics, including math,
science, and language arts, is essential for college kids to achieve their careers. Traditionalists
also emphasize the significance of discipline and shape in training (Allen, 2016). They argue that
a traditional coaching technique, with clear expectations and a focus on memorization and
repetition, facilitates students to increase vital competencies, field, perseverance, and attention to
While traditionalists make legitimate factors about the importance of foundational
information and discipline, some regions of war of words exist. The conventional training
method won't effectively put together students for the unexpectedly changing and unsure world
of the twenty-first century (Meier, 2016). The attention to standardized testing and rote
memorization can also restrict students' ability to think severely, remedy complex troubles, and
adapt to new conditions. Additionally, the conventional training method may perpetuate
inequalities in getting the right of entry and results. Students from deprived backgrounds might
not have equal opportunities for a satisfactory education. They may be left behind in a gadget
prioritizing standardized testing and field-precise understanding. To address those concerns, it's
vital to balance the conventional approach and more revolutionary fashions of schooling (Allen,
2016). Incorporating crucial thinking, problem-solving, and creativity into the curriculum can
better prepare students for the demands of the 21st century while still ensuring a solid foundation
The traditionalists argue for a content-focused education emphasizing discipline-specific
knowledge and preparing students for the workforce. They agree with a based and standardized
method of coaching and gaining knowledge. On the other hand, modern fashions of education
emphasize critical questioning, hassle-fixing, and creativity, aiming to prepare students for a
swiftly converting international (Meier, 2016). They propose a bendier and personalized
approach to schooling. Education in the 21st century must strike stability between those
perspectives, incorporating each foundational knowledge and ability necessary for adaptability
Education within the 21st century aims to offer students a strong foundation of subjectunique understanding and equip them with the competencies and attitude to navigate a hastily
converting global. It must foster critical thinking, trouble-solving, and creativity, empowering
college students to become impartial and adaptable newcomers (Meier, 2016). Education also
needs to deal with disparities in admission and consequences, ensuring that every student has
identical opportunities to triumph.
Cathy argues that higher education should focus on world readiness, providing students with
the intellectual toolkit to become independent, critical thinkers who can solve problems using
various methods. This aligns with the need for education to foster critical thinking and problemsolving skills. Deborah Meier highlights the importance of equality in education, aiming to
ensure that all students can live equally flourishing lives (Meier, 2016). This supports the idea of
addressing disparities in access and outcomes.
An instance of educational software that aligns with the interpretive function is a task-based
mastering initiative. In this method, students interact in global industries, requiring important
wondering, problem-solving, and collaboration. They follow subject-precise knowledge to clear
up complicated issues and increase transferable competencies to diverse contexts. This approach
prepares college students for the personnel band and fosters adaptability and creativity,
permitting them to thrive in a rapidly converting world.
The conversation on the purpose of training ought to be preserved, as there are unanswered
questions and demanding situations to cope with. Further studies and exploration of the subject
of schooling can assist us in broadening revolutionary strategies, bridging academic gaps, and
creating an extra equitable and effective training device. By conducting ongoing talks and
collaboration, we will work toward a future wherein schooling empowers individuals and
promotes social and financial progress.
(Main) Allen, Danielle. "What Is Education For?" Boston Review, 26 April
Meier, Deborah. "What Is Education For?" Forum Response. Boston Review, 26 April 2016,
Satz, Debra. "What Is Education For?" Forum Response. Boston Review, 26 April 2016,
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