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Why Gerald Graff’s Clueless in Academe is Worth Reading

By Dave Stuart Jr.

In the summer of 2011, I spent some time with Gerald Graff’s Clueless in Academe. This beautiful book (which, by the way, is mentioned in Appendix A of the CCSS!) takes a serious look at postsecondary schooling, finds it disjointed and its students disoriented, and concludes that the only way for students to find sanity in academia is to see that it’s just one big argumentative culture.

In other words, Graff helped me see that a lab report in science and an essay in history and an analysis in psychology and an exposition in English… that all of these pieces of writing, when done well, are simply various types of arguments. They make a claim and they support that claim with reasoning and evidence.

And here’s why Graff is worth the read: if Graff is right (and he is), then teaching kids the ins and outs of arguments — and simply the centrality of arguing in academia — is going to help them flourish outside of your classroom.

(This is a re-post of some material found in a larger post; I re-posted it for the sake of making the material easier to access when I refer to it elsewhere on the blog.)

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