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The Privilege of Respectful American Argument

Darren Redman; English Department Chair, English Teacher
While reading Howard Fineman’s The Thirteen American Arguments, Tilton School AP English Language students took the chance to respond to something of interest in their respective hometown newspapers. These “Letters to the Editor” were drafted and sent prior to the winter holiday break. They offered students the opportunity to add their “two- cents” to community conversation, while staying within the prescribed word count.
To write persuasively with mature diction, concise structure, and appropriate relevance is certainly a skill, and something exercised more often within the classroom. To compose something for or against a contemporary issue for potential publication to a much larger audience is an act of courage.

When initially offered this assignment, students were understandably hesitant, if not sceptical. Upon their return from winter break, their comments were more enthusiastic.

Whether published or not, this exercise is something Fineman would call truly American. He wrote, “We are the Arguing Country, born in, and born to, debate . . . If we fail to draw strength from our argumentative nature, we risk losing what made us great and gives us hope. Our disputes are not a burden, but a blessing” (The Thirteen American Arguments, “For the Sake of Argument").

Given our current political climate as a nation, let’s hope these RAMS will continue to refine their skills and to engage thoughtfully in societal discourse.

Though not all students found their pieces published, quite a few did.
The linked articles in the list below have all been published:

Brad Ameen: Firearms for Teachers in Schools
Griffen Bono: Dover High KKK jingle
Nathan Cammack: Juul Vaping
Julia Fiske: Overcrowded Nantucket
Jamie Goldman: Miami Dolphins
Hangjing Doris Li: Chinese Gene Ethics
Jiajie Bryan Lin: AI and Privacy Laws
Mabel Shao: Clearing the Air
John Woernle: Parolees with Guns Near Schools
Maggie Callender: Marijuana Dispensary Blues
Kyle Case: Maine and Offensive Mascots
Delanie Corcoran: Portable Classroom to New Construction
Casey Cormier: Holiday Feelings at the Franklin VNA & Hospice
Phil Crichton: Scientific Misperceptions
Piper Dion: Belmont Police Grow/Shave Beards for a Cause
Trent Fountain: No Wake on the Big Lake
Max Keef: Anti-semitism in Concord
Madison Kirker: “VA questions persist” in Union Leader 12/17/18
Aislinn McMahon: Hate Crimes/Language in School
Jack Mitchell: Medicinal Marijuana in MA
Calvin Moffroid: Biden’s Future
Lia Villanueva: Columbus Day
Emily Zhang: Jail Guard Training
Rhys Canfield: Teachers and Guns
Jamie Cates: California’s Tent Cities
Amanda Crowley: Drones and Sharks at the Cape
Molly Dexter: Smoking at What Age?
Todd Ding: NH Climate Change
Justin Greenberg: Middle School Threats and Words Matter
Kamila Hecka: Breastfeeding Rights
Jacky Li: George H. W. Bush and China
Brett Lockhart: Braintree Backup
Abe Valentine: Obituary or Politics?
Campbell Wain: Patriots, Dolphins, Pittsburg
Xiaofeng Zhu: Luxury Fashion and Chinese Culture
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