Logicomix Feedback: Beyond A+

This presentation should help you consider how high you are aiming when it comes to your analysis.

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Essays: making your mind up

Quite apart from their superlative display of colourful costumes and creative choreography, it was Bucks Fizz who, back in Eurovision 1981, had the wisdom and insight to suggest that:

“…soon you will find
That there comes a time
For making your mind up.”

They could easily have been singing about essay planning (were they, even? Who can say?).

It is very easy to merely reflect an essay topic back to the examiner. It feels like a safe option.  You make sure your introduction echoes the sentiment in the topic and then you go about finding examples of this in your set text.  This will, at best, only demonstrate that you have read the topic and that you can find related evidence from the text.

*shrugs* So what? *looks up cat videos on youtube*

Well, that’s not the high level analysis you want to engage in.  By reflecting the topic back in its unqualified, unexamined, unrefined form and simply finding evidence to illustrate it you are effectively proving to your audience that there is a presence of a big idea in the text but not really informing us of the essence of the thing.  That is, what is it exactly that you think that we, as readers, are positioned to view certain themes or characters and in what circumstances or conditions and to what end?  What is being suggested about the nature of [insert idea]*

*take your pick:  genius; madness; neurosis; the intellectual pursuit; love; fear; uncertainty; heroism; conflict; reason; irrationality, age and youth; wisdom….the list goes on.

 

Let’s look at one such question which could stem from an essay topic:

What does Logicomix suggest about the nature of fear?

Did you feel your mind hesitate at the thought of answering this question immediately? Your brain probably danced a step or two back to take another look at the question.  This is an understandably skittish response to what is a big and complex question which undoubtedly demands considered, nuanced and qualified answers (multiple).  Do not expect to just rattle off a response from the top of your head or spit out an essay in exam conditions without first doing some heavy lifting first (remember the ants in Whitehead’s garden).  You should  feel your mind take a little time-out on the bench to consider the nature of fear as it is presented in all its guises in the book.  That is why it is so important to devote time to deep thought.

Some possible responses to such a question might be framed in such a way:

Logicomix shows us that:

  • fear has the power to…..
  • fear originates from…
  • fear can be both…..while conversely….
  • irrationality stems from fear of…
  • fear is inextricably linked to…
  • without fear we….
  • humans need to conquer fear in order to….
  • fear leads to….which in turn…
  • fear of ……. undermines our attempts to…..
  • fear can be harnessed….
  • we are right to fear…..
  • in Russell’s case, fear is…..

Notice how each of these statements goes some way to presenting the complexity of the ideas in the text.  Each would obviously need careful consideration and gathering of evidence to be developed into a decent paragraph.  You should see, though, how each statement is evidence a position taken.  A view to be presented.  An interpretation to be developed. A perfect topic sentence.  A mind made up.

SAC 1: Analytical Essay on Logicomix

logicomix_thinking-image

TIMELINE

Friday 10 March: lesson on argument construction; essay topics released (your choice from six options)

Tuesday 14 March: draft plan for authentication

Thursday 16 March: lesson on analytical essay planning and writing

Friday 17 March: draft plan for authentication

Monday 20 March: write essay (double lesson) and submit typed hard copy on Friday 24 March (period 5) YOU MAY NOT USE THE LESSON TO PRINT IT IN THE LIBRARY.  Yes, that was a shout.

 

Faith and religion: sample questions

Here’s a list of sample questions which, once generated, should help guide some analysis, in this case of faith and religion.  Your presentation will need to be structured around three questions central to understanding your topic or character.

 

How does religion affect Russell’s childhood?

Where does faith and religion feature in the story of the quest?

How is religion portrayed in the quest for logic or reason?

What does does religion and faith help explain in the text?

Who or what represents religion and faith in the text?

What does religion have to do with logic?

What does religion have to do with madness and fear? Uncertainty?

Are religion and faith the same things?

Bertrand Russell in his own words

bertrand_russell_quote

We are faced with the paradoxical fact that education has become one of the chief obstacles to intelligence and freedom of thought.

War does not determine who is right – only who is left.

The good life is one inspired by love and guided by knowledge.

I would never die for my beliefs because I might be wrong.

The time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time.

In all affairs it’s a healthy thing now and then to hang a question mark on the things you have long taken for granted.

To fear love is to fear life, and those who fear life are already three parts dead.

To be without some of the things you want in an indispensable part of happiness.

The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, and wiser people so full of doubts.

Fear is the main source of superstition, and one of the main sources of cruelty. To conquer fear is the beginning of wisdom.