Is it a political, social, economic, cultural, religious, or educational idea?

I am writing to you today, and presenting materials to you, in the hope that you
will start working on your two required Essays. You may ask: What does WORK
mean? To me, and I hope for you, it means, first, weeks of thinking and then
planning. This is necessary in order to complete an essay that you will be proud of
and from which I will learn. Yes, I am here to learn from you. And that is why I
want you to write Essays and, also, learning from you is what I look forward to on
the final examination.
But, first, what IS a suitable essay for this course? And here I quote
from our syllabus:
The Formal Essays:
The formal essays in this course are neither book reports nor research papers. Rather, the
essays are demonstrations of the student’s understanding of how TWO minds have
worked on an idea, problem, perspective, or goal. The essays are designed to enable you
to demonstrate your expertise in asking and answering questions using the techniques that
you have learned in this course. In sum, the essays are self­directed inquiries. They are
intended to be a presentation of the results of an investigation by you. The length of each
essay is four pages. TO RECEIVE A SATISFACTORY GRADE FOR THIS COURSE,
ALL ESSAYS AND WRITTEN ASSIGNMENTS MUST BE COMPLETED­­AND
WITH A SATISFACTORY GRADE. TO REPEAT: IF YOU FAIL TO COMPLETE
ALL THE REQUIRED WORK FOR THIS COURSE, YOU WILL RECEIVE A
FAILING FINAL GRADE.

Time is a fundamental obstacle, as always, in carrying out any hope or
plan. So the key hint I can give you is: start now. And what should you be doing
right away? Look again at my Code of Socrates. Despite its high­sounding title,
this page is nothing more than the sequence of questions that you must ask and
then answer in order to really “know” anything. This page is, in essence, an
answer to all the years in elementary and high school when reading and
“knowing” meant

nothing more than “glance and recite.” That is, you glanced at the page and then
tried to memorize and then repeat whatever you saw. For years, it worked well for
you, right! If someone asked for the names of the fish in the Delaware River under
Washington’s boat, you could give the answer. But, really, will the President of
General Mills want to know that? Will he also discuss with you how many of the
Great Lakes you can name?
Recently one of my former students was hired by General Mills as an
IT. The entire interview centered around my student’s ability to engage in a
meaningful, adult conversation about knowledge and life. THIS is what I am
preparing you to do by writing Essays and by sharing ideas and learning with you

in class. The days of “glance and recite” as a way of reading and knowing are over
for you: I hope you realize this.

1. So I call upon you to, first, take a look at my Code of Socrates. Give time to
this, in order to decide what you often think about­­and that means, possibly, what
you enjoy thinking about. Look at any line­­which line, which part of a line,
expresses your thoughts and interests the most? Do you, for example, find yourself
focusing on the origins, the substance, the functions, or the consequences of
problems, challenges, or events? I call this your ANALYTICAL DISPOSITION.
2. You choose the type of idea that you often think about. Is it a political, social,
economic, cultural, religious, or educational idea?
3. Then you simply go down the list: leaders or followers etc.
4. This enables you to choose people who will be genuinely interesting and
meaningful to you.
5. NOW YOU ARE READY TO CHOOSE THE IDEA.

All in all, doing an essay means putting STATEMENT, EVIDENCE, AND
AMPLIFICATION to work. Look at “The Code” and see what I mean.
Next, here are the tips for preparing yourself to plan for the writing. I have given
them easy names.
1. Carving. 12 paragraphs­­not pages. THINK AND EXPRESS YOURSELF in
paragraphs.
2. Aiming. Express the obvious. Tell me in the first paragraph: “I intend or I
will….”
3. Balancing. Charlie and Al are your two thinkers, let’s say. On the page, should
you discuss them together? sometimes separated? This is for you to map and plan.
4. Sequencing. In what order do I present an idea? Early to late, hard to easy,
important to un, center to periphery: or the opposites of all. You decide what
works for you according to the materials, the people, and problem that you have
chosen.
5. And, naturally, there should be NO spelling, vocabulary or Banned Errors in all
your paragraphs.

LET ME REPEAT:
1. CARVING. Think in terms of paragraphs: 12, not 4 pages. That means
you have an introductory paragraph and a concluding paragraph. That leaves
you with only have TEN paragraphs to present your evidence and
arguments.
2. AIMING. Express the obvious. Tell me in YOUR first paragraph WHAT
you intend to do. IT IS FINE TO USE I in your first paragraph: I am looking

for clarity and intent. Just DON’T USE I in your conclusion. Let the
evidence, and your arrangement of it, bring the conclusion to the surface.
See what I mean?
3. Balancing: Present Charlie and Al together, or separately in each
paragraph­­you do the mapping and planning.
4. In your arrangement of the material. You have to think about
SEQUENCING. That is, do I want to present evidence or arguments going
from early to late, or hard to easy, or important to unimportant, center to
periphery, etc.? You decide what works for you as well as the materials and
the people and problem that you have chosen.
5. You need, tops, only ten appropriate quotes per person or document. This
doesn’t mean you must use all of them: all that I mean here is that when you
have collected TEN APPROPRIATE QUOTES PER PERSON OR
DOCUMENT, STOP. It is now time for SEQUENCING AND WRITING.
6. Errors­­No: Spelling, Vocabulary, and Banned Errors.

So, to review, here are the FIRST STEPS in the writing of an essay:
1. You choose your analytic disposition.
2. You choose the idea.
3. You choose the people or documents.

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