Summary of Debate

I am close to finishing my summer writing courses. So, so close, and yet… so far. One long piece of creative non-fiction, one 1500-word research essay (with a proposal – how is that long enough for any real research? Whatever. I’ll take it.) and one 500-word close reading. I can get this done. 

In the meantime, I am amusing myself and, hopefully, the poor “tutors” who have to read these assignments day in and day out. It was with them in mind that I wrote the following slice of life. The assignment calls for a one-paragraph summary of both sides of “a specific, local debate” in under 250 words. I had to present the two sides in an objective, neutral manner. I decided to go extremely specific and local…

Debate: What Is That in the Sky?

The debate in our car is heated: is the giant glowing white orb that we see in the sky above us the moon or is it something else? The person taking the affirmative position states that it is the moon and develops her argument relying almost exclusively on logos. She begins with a concession, acknowledging that the glowing orb does, in fact, look larger than usual, which is part of what attracted the attention of the passengers in the car. She continues to support the affirmative position by pointing out that, despite its size, the orb is in the place where the moon is usually seen, looks like the moon, and appears to be moving along the moon’s expected trajectory. Finally, the person in the affirmative attempts to use ethos, pointing out that years of experience in observing the moon makes her a credible source for determining if the orb is, in fact, the moon. For these reasons, the affirmative asserts that this is the moon. The person defending the negative position contends that what they are seeing is not the moon. This argument, too, relies largely on logos. For one, he argues, what they see in the sky right now is clearly much larger than the moon. The person assuming the negative position points out that he has never seen a moon this large. He then refers to authority, maintaining that “someone” recently read him a book about planets and that planets are, in fact, very large. He concludes his point by reminding his opponent that he, too, has seen the moon many times, which gives him vast experiential knowledge, if not quite as much as the other side. He closes with a clear statement of position: “I know a lot about moons, and that is not the moon.” In summary, the affirmative position is that the large, white, glowing orb in the sky is the moon; the negative position is that it is not the moon but, more likely, a planet.

In case you are wondering, it was the moon.

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14 thoughts on “Summary of Debate

  1. I love the use of formal debating in the context of toddler talk. In a sense, you’ve encapsulated the sometimes ridiculous nature of formality, and the very human condition of accepting our own beliefs despite evidence to the contrary – I absolutely love this piece and wonder if I could use this as a mentor text with my students next year, please?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Feel free to use it as a mentor text! If nothing else it can show the fun of reframing something everyday into something different, or formal, or removed. I giggled a lot as I wrote this, though the final result reads as pretty dang formal. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. That would be a tough thing for me to write! I am starting to think about writing university essays again and thinking about how to take my more personal story telling style and set it aside for assignments. UGH.

    I think the affirmative must have been correct because of course it was the moon! But the negative had some good arguments too. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I bet you’ll be fine. I discovered that my personal writing style does, in fact, fit into many of the assignments. Though I’ll admit that critical reviews are just the pits. Still, you write so much that I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised once you get in the swing of things at grad school. Are you excited? I am for you!


  3. Ha! This appeals to the debater in me. But how did you ultimately determine the bright orb was the moon? Did one w/ superior expertise chime in? Did you view said shining orb through s telescope? I’m curious about the arbiter’s credentials. 😉


    1. heeheehee – I didn’t include that last line in my actual summary of debate. The real conversation ended because I gave up. There is no way to win that argument with a three-year-old. No way at all.


    1. I honestly think that if I had to write any more I might lose my mind. In some ways the various modes of writing are challenging and fun. In other ways my perfectionist tendencies are making this more complicated than it needs to be… Still, at least my slices aren’t repetitive. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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