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It's Not What You Think, It's How You Present It

I was a debater back in the day. Our high school team was very successful, thanks in large part to a coach who knew argumentation and demanded we learn to do it correctly. I went on to college debate and more coaches who taught me how logical argument must go. In its most basic form a point of debate should: 1. State your position clearly 2. Explain your position 3. Support your position with evidence 4. Restate your position in a brief, easily remembered form That's why Facebook makes me crazy. Today's social media allows for arguments so weak they'd be laughable if our society weren't in peril because of them. These arguments are tossed into the public forum from the highest levels of our government down to the lowest levels of education, people who can't even spell the word argue . Not only are pathetically weak arguments presented, but when someone responds, that weak argument usually descends into name calling and insults. Here are a few examples o

On Being Everyone's Teacher

Starting in 1978 (I think) and ending in 2002, I was one of two, sometimes three, English teachers at our high school. That meant every student capable of sitting in a desk for fifty minutes had at least one class from me. For most it was sophomore English and speech. Years later, the results of my work are on display on Facebook, Twitter, etc., and it's pretty interesting. I get to keep track of where everyone lives, whom they marry (or don't), how their kids are growing, and how they feel about life in general. Mostly, I love it. I get comments sometimes from those who aren't sure of their English skills and worry that I will correct their posts. (Not a chance, unless you ask me to.) I get memories of the "good old days," often funny incidents but sometimes messages of thanks for what I hope was respect for all my students. I get a few political arguments, though I try to keep out of the worst of that quagmire. (The funniest/saddest was from a student who was