Rhetorical question: A question asked not to elicit information, but to achieve a stylistic effect. Often a writer or a speaker adds emphasis to a point by putting it in a question, the answer to which supports her arguments, as does Michelle Landsberg in “West Must Confront the Anonymous Misery of the World’s Children.”
GOAL: To determine whether the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (1990) has been effective in reducing the employment of child labourers in developing countries. You may work with a partner both in the researching and writing of the essay.
- Use Landsberg’s essay as a MODEL for your own essay. Pay close attention to the stylistic devices used by Landsberg, noted in the questions on the essay.
INTRODUCTION: 2 paragraphs
Paragraph 1: Introduce the topic: the exploitation of children in poor countries and provide updated information on the UN Convention of the Rights of the Child, e.g. how many countries are now signatory to the treaty, how long the treaty has been in effect, etc.
Paragraph 2: State your thesis in the form of a rhetorical question with either a positive or negative answer, for example: “Has there been an improvement in the treatment of the world’s children since the enactment of the Convention.” You might not be able to express your answer with a simple “yes” or “no” but rather with a conditional response such as “Generally speaking,” For the most part,” “To a large extent,” “It’s unlikely that a significant…, etc. See “Qualifiers” on your Transitions handout.
BODY: Minimum of 8-10 short paragraphs
Use the Internet sites listed by Mr. Grey (or any other reliable sites you can locate, i.e., not Wikipedia) to find more recent examples of the condition of the world’s children. Please note that these examples should be drawn from countries across the developing world that tolerate or condone child labour. You can, of course, use the award-winning documentary film, Made in Bangladesh, as a source – the website (cbc.ca/fifth) contains additional resources that you may wish to access, including the sequel to the original documentary. Each paragraph should provide a concrete example of the treatment – for better or worse – of children in poor countries.
CONCLUSION: 1 paragraph
End your essay with a second rhetorical question which reinforces the evidence cited in the body of your essay.
- 750 – 1000 words
- MLA title page (see Writer’s Guide, page 269)
- MLA in-text citations (see Writer’s Guide, page 251-254 or go to http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/747/01/ Because you will most likely be using Internet sources, go to the section in the Purdue website entitled Basic MLA Citation Rules and to the information under Citing Non-Print or Sources from the Internet. Remember that the purpose of in-text citations is to direct your reader to the correct source in your Works Cited listed at the end of your essay. You may also refer to MLA Works Cited (see Writer’s Guide, page 255-268).
- FIRST DRAFT: double spaced, edited with correction symbols with a focus on Lower Order Concerns (LOCs) including awkward construction (AWK), comma splices (CS), fragments (FRAG), run on sentences (RO), punctuation (P), spelling (SP), word choice (WC), obvious error (X), clarity (CLAR), and passive voice.
- SUBSEQUENT DRAFTS: you may edit these drafts on the computer as many times as you deem necessary. In addition to focussing on LOCs, you should now focus on Higher Order Concerns (HOCs) including paragraph UNITY, paragraph DEVELOPMENT, and paragraph COHERENCE, as well as the overall coherence of your essay (see the Introduction to Writer’s Guide). Ask yourself whether one paragraph connects to the next and whether you are happy with the overall organization of the essay. Pay particular attention to the use of transitions and other coherence connectives that link or bridge your sentences and paragraphs.
- Aim to incorporate, as does Landsberg, stylistic devices in your writing such as irony, contrast, revealing the significance (i.e. key word in a strategic location in your conclusion), etc. to strengthen your writing. Also, aim for conciseness – the art of conveying the most meaning with the fewest words. For valuable writing tips, review the Introduction to The Act of Writing.
- FINAL DRAFT: 1½ spacing, font: Times New Roman, type size: 12. This draft should be error free!
- Remember to keep track of your sources for your Works Cited list.
- Use the Cornell Notes format to make handwritten notes. These must be handed in with the essay.
- See teacher handout that lists some useful research sites.
- Please keep two copies of the essay and research notes, so that if one student is absent or material is lost it will not impede the assignment.