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Fridman Nerds Essay Outline

To the Editor:

While ''America Needs Its Nerds'' (Op-Ed, Jan. 11) by Leonid Fridman, a Harvard student, may be correct in its message that Americans should treat intellectualism with greater respect, his identification of the ''nerd'' as guardian of this intellectual tradition is misguided.

Mr. Fridman maintains that anti-intellectualism runs rampant across this country, even at the ''prestigious academic institution'' he attends. However, he confuses a distaste for narrow-mindedness with anti-intellectualism. Just as Harvard, as a whole, reflects diversity in the racial, ethnic and religious backgrounds of its students, each student should reflect a diversity of interest as well.

A ''nerd'' or ''geek'' is distinguished by a lack of diverse interests, rather than by a presence of intellectualism. Thus, a nerd or geek is not, as Mr. Fridman states, a student ''for whom pursuing knowledge is the top priority'' but a student for whom pursuing knowledge is the sole objective. A nerd becomes socially maladjusted because he doesn't participate in social activities or even intellectual activities involving other people. As a result, a nerd is less the intellectual champion of Mr. Fridman's descriptions than a person whose intelligence is not focused and enhanced by contact with fellow students. Constant study renders such social learning impossible.

For a large majority at Harvard, academic pursuit is the highest goal; a limited number, however, refuse to partake in activities other than study. Only these select few are the targets of the geek label. Continuous study, like any other obsession, is not a habit to be lauded. Every student, no matter how ''intellectually curious,'' ought to take a little time to pursue social knowledge through activities other than study.

Mr. Fridman's analysis demonstrates further flaws in his reference to Japan. He comments that ''in East Asia, a kid who studies hard is lauded and held up as an example to other students,'' while in the United States he or she is ostracized. This is an unfair comparison because Mr. Fridman's first reference is to how the East Asian child is viewed by teachers, while his second reference is to how the American child is viewed by fellow students. Mr. Fridman is equating two distinct perspectives on the student to substantiate a broad generalization on which he has no factual data.

Nerdism may also be criticized because it often leads to the pursuit of knowledge not for its own sake, but for the sake of grades. Nerds are well versed in the type of intellectual trivia that may help in obtaining A's, but has little or no relevance to the real world. A true definition of intellectualism ought to include social knowledge.

While we in no way condone the terms ''nerds'' and ''geeks'' as insults, we also cannot condone the isolationist intellectualism Mr. Fridman advocates.

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Presentation on theme: "“America Needs its Nerds” Common Errors"— Presentation transcript:

1 “America Needs its Nerds” Common Errors

2 What is the prompt asking you to do?
Not just analyze rhetorical devices but how he develops his argument.Identify his argument and remember he is arguing for a specific purpose

3 Argument VS AnalysisArgument: You analyze the effectiveness of the author’s ideas; in essence, you defend or refute what he/she is saying; this deals strictly with the ideas conveyed by the authorAnalysis: You don’t offer any insight into whether or not you agree/disagree with the author; instead, you merely analyze HOW he made his argument (tone, comparisons, juxtapositions, rhetorical questions, shifts in diction, sentence structure, etc.) and why he chose to make it that way

4 Content ErrorsDon’t slip into summary. Your job is to analyze how Fridman develops his argument – not to evaluate, make a judgment, or agree/disagree with the topic and not to tell the reader what the essay was aboutBe careful that you are not summarizing the complexity of an author’s ideas and assuming this is analysis; you must address specific devices and techniques.Avoid talking about “effects on the reader;” instead think about the audience, specifically the intended audience

5 Content ErrorsYou are always looking at rhetorical devices. Don’t state that he uses rhetorical devices to create his argument; just go right to analyzing: Fridman begins his essay by…Discuss Rhetorical Strategies (NOT Literary Devices)Some Rhetorical Strategies in this essay:Comparison, Definition, Cause/Effect, Rhetorical Questions, ExemplificationReminder: Literary devices are used to analyze literature; rhetorical strategies are used to analyze informational text

6 Content Errors: Rhetorical Devices
Cause /effect – his argument of the US staying a world powerA call to action…Where would we be without our nerds and how we should restore them to their rightful position in society?What is his tone? Maybe urgent at times (think: call to action)He develops an argument through description and examples.

7 Content ErrorsDon’t refer to rhetorical strategies without giving specific text evidence. Here is a student example of this error:In the first paragraph, the author makes a claim that the terms “nerd” and “geek” are derogatory. He supports this claim in the second paragraph when he defines the word “geek.” In the third paragraph Leonid gives an example of students being ashamed of learning and calls out athletes as the “enemy.” The fourth paragraph shows a cause and effect system between what kids do when they are young and how they are perceived when they grow older.

8 Common ErrorsDon’t list specific devices in your thesis statement; instead, generalize his overall techniques and leave the specifics for the body paragraphs.

9 Content Errors: List of Don’ts
Don’t put in your opinion of the topic or what he has written (DON’T EVER DO THIS!)Don’t repeat the entire definition he gave for geeks. Instead, refer to it, but more importantly, explain WHY is he using this definition – what is he trying to do?Don’t just list examples; explain how they develop his argument and in reverse, don’t just tell without citing evidence

10 Content Errors: The WHYs
Starts out with a definition of geek which exemplifies his opening statement for discrimination again intellectuals. WHY?Uses Harvard, our most prestigious institution, as an example of anti-intellectualism. WHY?Shows that America’s values as backward to other developing nations including Asia. WHY?Expands to the social ostracizing of intellectuals from childhood. WHY?

11 Content ErrorsExplain quotes. Do not end a paragraph with a quote as you have not provided sufficient explanation.

12 Stylistic Errors Refer to authors by last name:
In his essay, Fridman states…<NOT> In his essay, Leonid states…

13 Stylistic ErrorsExplicit references should cite line numbers, not just the author’s last name

14 Stylistic Errors: Pronouns
Provide clear pronoun references:The text states that…<NOT> In the text, it states that…Avoid the use of first and second person pronouns in academic writing. First person pronouns are acceptable only when using them anecdotally.Sample from a student paper: “When you read this, I picture a nerd.”

15 Stylistic ErrorsDon’t tell us what he means or what he is trying to do. This is summary.Avoid these:He means that…He is trying to tell readers that…

16 Stylistic Errors Thesis must be a statement – never a question.
Make sure that you get the punctuation for the title of the piece correct, especially if it is already punctuated for you in the prompt!

17 Stylistic ErrorsIf you use a semicolon, you MUST have a complete sentence in front of it and a complete sentence after it.Punctuation ALWAYS goes inside the quotation marks unless you have an in-text citation.Its is the possessive form of the word; It’s can be broken down to it is.

18 DIRECTIONSWith the group feedback and common errors in mind, analyze your own essay for EVERY error included in this document.HIGHLIGHT all errors you find. Highlight CONTENT ERRORS in ORANGE and highlight STYLISTIC ERRORS in YELLOW.For EVERY ERROR, provide a correction in the margin or, if more room is required, on another sheet of paper. If you choose to write on a new sheet of paper, clearly label exactly what you are correcting.TIME: You have the rest of today and the entire hour tomorrow to work on these corrections.You must also complete the final twelve words on your TERMS CHART by Friday. Charts will be collected Friday. If you completed yours on Evernote, the file to before your class period on Friday.

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