Wednesday, October 19, 2011

LTW Journal 10/19: Finding an Issue

(Part of an ongoing series detailing our Lost Tools of Writing adventures.  Previous posts here.) 

I realized this week that several posters on the LTWMentor group write essays along with their students, following the guidelines of their classes' current lessons.  I have not been doing that, although I consider our practice essay somewhat my own.  In this essay cycle, I decided to go through the process myself, doing everything I am requiring of my kids.

We are in Invention this week, so I have to find an issue.  LTW does not give too much guidance on actually picking something to write about.  I told the kids that this essay needs to be about what they are reading for school.  I am reading several books with the kids.  Gathering fodder for an essay is tough, so I want to pick a book that fascinates me.  Here are the ones I find most interesting:

1.  Plutarch's Life of Crassus
2.  Paul Johnson's History of the American People (currently dealing with 1880s-1920s)
3.  This Country of Ours (currently reading about the 1800s)
4.  Testament of Youth by Vera Brittain
5.  The Bible (Matthew/Leviticus)
6.  Emma by Jane Austen
7.  The New World (Henry VIII just established the Church of England)
8.  As You Like It by Mr. William Shakespeare

Next I need to discover anything debatable in these books-- an issue.  In other words, a topic that can be turned into a 'whether', ie., "Whether Boromir should have tried to take the Ring from Frodo".  (That is our practice essay issue.)  I did not peek into the books to make my list because I want to pick an issue that inspires me to wonder.  Off the top of my head, I wonder:

1. Whether Crassus should have decimated the legion
2a. Whether Congress should have dismantled the Standard Oil Trust
2b. Whether Congress should have enacted the Robinson-Patman Act (also known as the Anti-Price-Discrimination Act)
3. Whether General Jackson should have conquered Florida
4.  Hmm...
5.  (Sort of hard to find a debate in the commands of God (Leviticus).  Ditto for Matthew, since we are reading Christ's sermons.)
6.  Whether Harriet should have refused Robert Martin.
7.  Whether Henry should have broke away from the Catholic Church.
8.  Whether it is better to live at the ducal court or in the wilderness.

Here my two favorites:

*  Whether Crassus should have decimated the legion
*  Whether Congress should have dismantled the Standard Oil Trust

In the next LTW Journal post, I will let you know which one I picked. :)

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