A photograph of a Kung Fu instructor jumping through the air.

Source: Flying Shaolin Kung Fu Monk, Dennis Kruyt, Flickr

Let’s revisit the scenario from the beginning of this lesson: You need to convince your dad to drive you to the emergency dress rehearsal at your school. After all, you play an important role in the stage production. As the prop manager, you’re responsible for obtaining, maintaining, and keeping track of the dozens of oddball items, so it is crucial that you attend every single rehearsal. Why can’t you just stroll into the kitchen, tell him how the whole crew is depending on you, and demand that he take you there? Why should you go to the trouble of trying to anticipate your dad’s counterarguments?

A photograph of a male coach talking to his girls' basketball team during a game.

Source: Coach and Team, wiwutv51, Flickr

There’s an old martial arts saying: “The hand that strikes also blocks.” It means that when you are faced with having to argue in favor of a position, having a sense of your opponent’s arsenal is important. In the immortal words of your coaches, “A good offense is a good defense.” In other words, the more you know about your opponents, the better your chances of coming up with evidence to counter their views.

Let’s take a minute to think of your situation in terms of audience. You know your dad; you know his ideas, attitudes, beliefs, his capacity for putting his needs aside for the sake of others, and so forth. Think about your mom. Would it be easier to get her to drive you to the rehearsal? How is she different from your dad? Would you approach her in a different way? All these questions help you to understand your audience and decide on the kinds of evidence you will need for your argument. Will you need cold, hard facts, emotional appeals, anecdotes, or a combination of these?

A photograph of students celebrating the last day of school by jumping in unison.

Source: WTS Students jumping for “School’s Out”, vbecker, Flickr

Say your issue is as follows:

Should we extend the school year through the summer?

Suppose your position is this:

The school year should not be extended over the summer months.

Who is your audience? Who are you trying to convince? Considering your audience and thinking about how they might feel about this issue enables you to gather evidence to respond to their arguments.

take notes icon Using your notes, answer the following question. When you are finished, check your understanding to see possible responses.

  • Suppose your audience is the teaching staff at your school. What could you expect in terms of possible positions or issues in relation to the issue of year-round school?

Check Your Understanding
Sample Responses:

take notes iconWhat claims could be made (facts and/or opinions) on each side of this issue? What kinds of evidence could you use to differentiate between valid and invalid claims? The chart below contains claims and possible counterarguments, but the row for evidence to support the counterarguments has been left blank. Use your notes to write down how you would
complete the right side of the chart for the first, second, and third rows. Check your understanding to see possible responses in a completed version of the chart.

Your claims Counterargument claims Evidence to refute counter claims
Students would suffer in the summer because some schools lack air conditioning. Very few schools are without air conditioning in this country.  
Students wouldn’t have the opportunity to go to camps or travel. There would still be time for summer activities; they would just last fewer weeks.  
Time with family would suffer. Families want the best for their children. Therefore, they should care about their education before anything else.  


Check Your Understanding
Sample Responses:
Your claims Counterargument claims Evidence to refute counter claims
Students would suffer in the summer because some schools lack air conditioning. Very few schools are without air conditioning in this country. There are enough schools without air conditioning to make school uncomfortable for some students.
Students wouldn’t have the opportunity to go to camps or travel. There would still be time for summer activities; they would just last fewer weeks. It would be much harder to stay in hotels and campgrounds because too many people would want to be there at the same time.
Time with family would suffer. Families want the best for their children. Therefore, they should care about their education before anything else. While it’s true that families should care about their children, time spent with them during the summer months is quality time and is very important.