AgendaPresentation: Basic Features: ProposingSolutionsDiscussion: KornbluhIn-Class Writing: Beginning your essay
Basic FeaturesAs you read essays proposing a solutionin this chapter, you will see how differentauthors incorporate the basic features ofthe genre.
A Well-Defined ProblemWriters try to define the problem in a way that establishes theneed to find a solution. Writers use the strategies listed below topresent the problem as real and serious: • giving examples to make the problem specific • using scenarios or anecdotes to dramatize the problem • quoting testimony from those affected by the problem • citing statistics to show the severity of the problem • vividly describing the problem’s negative consequences
A Well-Argued SolutionA good thesis statement in an essay proposing a solutionmakes clear exactly what is being proposed and mayalso forecast the reasons for it that will be developed andsupported in the essay. The argument for the proposedsolution offers concrete reasons and support showingthat the solution is feasible—meaning it meets thefollowing criteria: • it will help solve the problem; • it can be implemented; and • it is worth the expense, time, and effort.
For example, a writer mightdemonstrate that • the proposed solution would reduce or eliminate a major cause of the problem; • a similar solution has worked elsewhere; • the necessary steps to put the solution into practice can be taken without excessive cost or inconvenience; or • stakeholders could come together behind the proposal.
An Evaluation of Alternative SolutionsSolution essay writers present their solution aspreferable to other possible solutions. Writers usetwo basic methods to present alternative solutions:• Compare the proposed solution to other, familiar solutions.• Compare the proposed solution to solutions they think of themselves.
An Anticipation of Readers’Objections and QuestionsWriters of solution essays respond to possible objectionsand alternative solutions. Writers may counterargue inone or more of the following ways: by acknowledging an objection by conceding the point and modifying the proposal to accommodate it by refuting criticism—for example, by arguing that an alternative solution would be more costly or less likely to solve the problem than the proposed solution.
A Readable PlanTo make their essays easy to read, writers usually include some or allof the following: a forecast of the argument key words introduced in the thesis and forecasting statement topic sentences introducing paragraphs or groups of paragraphs repeated use of key words and synonyms throughout the essay, particularly in topic sentences clear transitional words and phrases headings that explicitly identify different sections of the essay visuals, including charts that present information in an easy-to-read format
Consider “Win Win Flexibility”What is the problem? Which of these strategies doesKornbluh use to define her problem? • giving examples to make the problem specific • using scenarios or anecdotes to dramatize the problem • quoting testimony from those affected by the problem • citing statistics to show the severity of the problem • vividly describing the problem’s negative consequences
What is Kornbluh’s Solution?Which does she use to demonstrate her solution? the proposed solution would reduce or eliminate a major cause of the problem; a similar solution has worked elsewhere; the necessary steps to put the solution into practice can be taken without excessive cost or inconvenience; or stakeholders could come together behind the proposal.
How Does Kornbluh Address Questions and Concerns?by acknowledging an objectionby conceding the point and modifying the proposalto accommodate itby refuting criticism—for example, by arguing thatan alternative solution would be more costly orless likely to solve the problem than the proposedsolution.
Alternative SolutionsHow does Kornbluh present hersolution as preferable to otherpossible solutions?
A Readable PlanWhich of the following does Kornbluh include to make her essay easyto read: a forecast of the argument key words introduced in the thesis and forecasting statement topic sentences introducing paragraphs or groups of paragraphs repeated use of key words and synonyms throughout the essay, particularly in topic sentences clear transitional words and phrases headings that explicitly identify different sections of the essay visuals, including charts that present information in an easy-to-read format
Analyzing the Problem p 365Explore What You Know. Figure out what you knownow about the problem and what you still need to findout by jotting down answers to the questions below:• How do I know the problem exists and that it isserious?• What could cause a problem like this?• Who suffers from the problem? What evidence of ithave I seen or experienced myself?• Who, if anyone, would benefit from not changing theway things work now?
Identifying Your Possible Readers pp 365-66In a few sentences, explore your readers. In addition to yourinstructor and classmates, think about writing to people who areaffected by the problem or those in a position to take action tosolve it. The following questions will help you develop anunderstanding of your readers:• How informed are my readers likely to be about the problem? Have they shown any awareness of it?• Why would my readers care about solving this problem?• Have my readers supported any other proposals to solve this problem? If so, what do those proposals have in common with mine?• What values and concerns do my readers and I share that could bring us together to solve the problem?
Defining the ProblemWrite a paragraph or two describing the problemfor your readers. Be as specific and vivid in yourexplanation as possible given the information youcurrently have. Writing a very rough draft of thispart of your essay should help clarify whatadditional information you will need.
Listing Possible SolutionsIt usually helps to consider several possible solutions beforefocusing on one solution, so problem solving requires creativity.Use the following questions to help you make a list of creativesolutions you could consider for your essay:Can you adapt a solution that has already been tried or proposedfor related problems?• What smaller, more manageable aspect of the larger problemcould you solve?• Could re-imagining the goal help you make fundamentalchanges?• Could the problem be solved from the bottom up instead of fromthe top down?• Could an ongoing process help solve the problem?
Choosing the Most Promising SolutionIn a sentence or two, describe the solution youwant to explore further. You cannot know forcertain whether you will be able to construct aconvincing argument to support this solution, butyou should choose a solution that you feelmotivated to pursue.
Explain Why It Would Solve the Problem.Write for a few minutes explaining why you think thissolution could solve the problem. For example,would it eliminate one or more causes? change people’s attitudes? re-imagine the objective? reduce anxiety and tension?
Show Why It Is Possible. Write for a few minutes explainingwhy people could agree to put thesolution into effect. For example,what would it cost them in time ormoney?
Explain How It Could Be Implemented. Write down the major stages or stepsnecessary to carry out your solution. Thislist of steps will provide an early test ofwhether your solution can, in fact, beimplemented.
Plan Follow-Up Research. Add notes about the kinds of information you think would help make your argument convincing for your readers and where you think you can find this information.
Anticipate Objections.Write a few sentences responding to the followingobjections you think are most likely: • We can’t afford it. • It would take too long. • People would not do it. • Too few would benefit. • You would benefit personally. • We already tried that, with unsatisfactory results.
Plan Follow-Up Research. Add notes about the kinds of information you think would help make your counterargument convincing for your readers and where you think you can find this information.
Considering Alternative Solutions List two or three alternative solutions that othershave proposed or tried. You may have discoveredthese alternatives during interviews or in your libraryresearch. You do not have to list every solution thathas been mentioned, but you should include themost popular or serious alternatives. If you includeonly obviously weak solutions in your argument,your credibility will be harmed and you could beaccused of committing the straw man fallacy, whichinvolves directing your counterargument against analternative that nobody takes seriously anyway.
Developing Your Counterargument Write a paragraph for each alternative solution you think youshould include in your argument. Describe the alternativesolution fairly, quoting supporters if possible. Then work out thereasons you believe the alternative solution would not be feasible, would not solve the problem, would not be approved, would be hard to implement, or would be too costly, disruptive, or time-consuming to put into effect.
HomeworkWrite: finish and post ALL of the writing from thepresentation for today.Blog Prompt: Write one or more sentences to serve as yourtentative thesis statement. In most essays proposingsolutions to problems, the thesis statement is a conciseannouncement of the solution. Think about how emphaticyou should make the thesis and whether you shouldforecast your reasons.Review the readings in this chapter to see how other writersconstruct their thesis statements.Bring SMG