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Home School Life Journal
"Let us strive to make each moment beautiful."
Saint Francis DeSales
painting by Katie Bergenholtz

Teaching Your High School Student About Analyzing Arguments


Now that we have looked at the various ways people make arguments in essays and the possible fallacies connected to them, we can go over with our students how to analyze arguments. 

Before reading an article,  have the student research about the author and try to determine why he wrote the article. How does the author's beliefs and values affect his arguments? 

Next, the student needs to learn all he can about the subject of the article. 

Now, the student can read the article. After reading the article, the student can return to it, highlighting the main point or thesis of the argument.

Next, the student should analyze how the evidence to support the argument is presented. Can he identify the type of argument? (Cause and Effect, Comparison, Generalization Proof, Debate) What are the possible fallacies? What are the sources of the evidence? How strong is the evidence? (Is it primary or secondary? Would there be a reason the author has to distort the evidence?) What assumptions does the author make? Is the reasoning valid? (Look for the appropriate questions from the type of argument presented.)
What assumption must be true if thesis is true? 

Once your student is thoroughly familiar with the way arguments are made, he can begin writing his own essays as well as continue to read and analyze others' articles.

So, what is the difference between middle school and high school level learning?

In high school students should be able to identify which level of reasoning is used in an article and be able to look for the possible fallacies with each of the types of reasoning. In this way, he can evaluate the article on a higher level than the middle school student who may or may not be convinced by an article's reasoning, but not know why or why not. The high school student can then write his own paper, using a particular article to back up his claims or to refute the claims of the article. This is practice for a college-level paper.

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