Explanations using contexts

After several essay consults the past few weeks, I realized many students still have problems offering well-developed and insightful explanations to elaborate upon their topic sentence. Many students still jump into descriptive example mode after the first line or two. While I’m not too concerned about structure, I do think that explanations in the argument are essential. In a nutshell, explanations exists to make things clearer.

How can you make things clearer? By provide appropriate reasoning and justifications. Just imagine there’s someone sitting beside you and after having listened to your argument, he goes:

“OK that’s a nice thought but…
why should it likely be so today?”

At this point in time, more conceptual / abstract / hypothetical writing will do little to persuade the reader. When explaining, you need to bring the discussion a little closer to reality by linking the key traits of your subject to real world contexts and understandings. [E.g. Larger traits of the modern world / your society / human nature]

Example 1
TS: Other than self-expression, the visual nature of art also lends itself to mainly functioning as a platform for socio-political activism.
Explanation (linking key trait of subject, i.e. visual nature, to modern contexts)

  • Given how authoritarian regimes often restrict freedom of speech or easily clamp on overtly political texts, the visual nature of art allows political activists to convey their messages whilst side-stepping any possible run-ins with the law and authorities.
  • Also, the highly accessible nature of visual mediums in a media-saturated world makes visual art a particularly effective way for activists to spread their messages to a wide audience easily.
Example 2
TS: One of the reasons why the elimination of poverty is not a realistic aim is because corrupt or ineffective governments that continually hinder and undermine aid efforts.
Explanation (link key trait of subject, i.e. corrupt government, to modern understandings)
  • Given the inherently selfish and power hungry nature of man, one can expect such corrupt governments to persist and obstruct aid efforts and even purposefully keep certain segments in society poor as long as their power is maintained.
Example 3
TS: It is the governments, and not the people, who should take more responsibility for the environment as they possess the necessary resources and power to deal with it.
Explanation (link key trait, i.e. governments having power, to modern contexts)
  • Given how governments in mostly developed nations today have shown remarkable ability in galvanizing resources and manpower in meeting other social and political ends, one should also expect them take the lead then in dealing with the environmental issue since they are clearly the ones who actually can solve it.
  • Also, given the liberal democratic climate of governments for the people, it is also the governments’ responsibility to then be good stewards of their power and use it to solve such pressing national concerns.

One thought on “Explanations using contexts

  1. Pingback: Essay Skills Digest 1/11/11 « Gee Pee Land

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