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Coles Writing Assignments

FIRST WEEK JOURNAL ENTRY                                                Urban/08

SELF REFLECTIVE (roughly 1 ½ typed pages)

On the importance of moral leadership, Robert Coles claims that “We need heroes, people who can inspire us, help shape us morally, spur us on to purposeful action…” (xvii). His book subsequently examines the lives of public leaders such as Dorothy Day, cofounder of the Catholic Worker and not so public leaders such as Albert Jones, a Boston bus driver. Coles also says that “literature can be a living moral catalyst and presence” for people as it was for Robert Kennedy “who found  enlightenment in … Shakespeare’s… Henry V” (xviii).
 
CHOOSE ONE OF THE FOLLOWING TO RESPOND TO
(for either journal, work on being very specific)

Reflect on the impact a moral leader has had on you. How has a public figure, a not so public figure, or a character in literature or film inspired, encouraged, enlightened you in some way to work toward being a moral leader?

Elaine Vogel asked her grammar school students what they think our leaders
should stand for (79). What do you think our leaders should stand for? Why?

SYNTHESIS ESSAY I                                                      Urban/08

(3-4 pages)

Robert Coles discusses various kinds of moral leaders, sometimes focusing on two categories: 1. Likely Leaders, those groomed from birth to be leaders or who are driven by ambition, those who are well known and 2. Unlikely Leaders, those who, like most of us, are “everyday people” but who rise to the occasion to lead others to improve conditions for people in need, those who are not well known.

Compare and contrast a Likely Leader and an Unlikely Leader that Coles writes about. Examine personal characteristics, motivation,  the situations that set leadership proclivities in motion, actions, and the results of actions.  Examples of Likely Leaders include Robert Kennedy,  King Henry V, Ralph McGill, Lillian Smith, Dorothy Day, Danilo Dolci, and Dietrich Bonhoeffer Examples of Unlikely Leaders include Captain MacWhirr from Conrad’s Typhoon, Andrew Thomas, Elaine Vogel, members of the White Rose, Albert Jones, and Alice, the white student who consoles Mary Ann. (if using the Mercury Reader, you could include Roberto Acuna).

While the primary writing strategy is to compare and contrast, you should not just point out similarities and differences but rather make an overall point, a claim that you prove in the rest of your essay, the significance of similarities and differences. Work on making a point that isn’t overly obvious; this point will be your thesis; answer your readers’ question, “These people are alike and different; so what?” Another challenge will be deciding how to organize material. Avoid treating the persons you’re writing about separately (see “Grant and Lee” in the Mercury Reader for structure possibilities).

Write for a general audience, including enough information from the text to make your points clear for readers who may be unfamiliar with Coles’ book. Be sure to support general statements with textual detail, being careful to put exact language in quotation marks and to include parenthetical page citations for specifics, whether you’ve quoted, paraphrased or summarized. At the end of your essay, include a work(s) cited section in proper MLA format (see HB #6 p. 626 for books with one author and #10 p. 628 for works in an anthology).

Work at writing a good introduction that leads your readers logically to the controlling idea, your thesis statement. Be sure that each body paragraph relates to the thesis, and be sure that each paragraph is unified, introduced with a topic sentence that the details in the paragraph illustrate. Also work on coherence by providing logical links between sentences and between paragraphs. For your conclusion, try to do more that simply restate the controlling idea.

SYNTHESIS ESSAY II (Coles and  Mercury Reader)                               Urban/08

About 4 pages

Using the chapters we’ve discussed so far in The Lives of Moral Leadership, write an essay that applies a theory of leadership from the Mercury Reader (Father Dan Hartnett, the Dalai Lama, Elie Wiesel)  to two or three of the leaders  in Coles’ book. Or examine one leader in Coles’ book in-depth by applying two of the theories to the person’s life and work.

POSSIBLE TOPICS (don’t limit yourself to these)

You could discuss the extent to which the leader follows Father Hartnett’s four steps: experience, understanding, imagination, and action.

You could examine how leaders such as Robert Kennedy, Captain MacWhirr, from Conrad’s Typhoon, Danilo Dolci, exemplify the Dalai Lama’s definition of empathy as  “our ability to enter into and, to some extent, share others’ suffering’ based on feeling intimacy with all other sentient beings; we identify with all, not just those like us.

You could show how some people in Coles’ book illustrate Elie Wiesel’s idea that while “it’s easier to look away from victims,” a leader works to improve lives even though “it’s awkward, troublesome, to be involved in another’s pain and despair.” (dangerous often times, too)  Perhaps look at the Thomases and Tomasellos, Dolci, and members of the White Rose.

The title of Father Hartnett’s article “Arm-in-Arm for Justice” refers to working together in solidarity to do what needs to be done. In what ways do leaders in Coles’ book need to work with others? (among others, look at Dolci, Day, and Maurin)

Elie Wiesel claims that indifference cannot be creative; “it is not a beginning; it is and end.” Because compassion is the opposite of indifference, it must be creative  and a beginning. Creativity could be likened to Father Hartnett’s step of Imagination. In what ways are leaders in Coles” book imaginative and creative? (among others look at Elaine Vogel and Lillian Smith)

In your essay, be sure to support general statements with evidence from the texts you are writing about. For example, if you say that Elaine Vogel creatively changed teaching tactics in order to continue her emphasis on slavery and segregation, what exactly did she do and why? Include in-text page citations for details (whether they are quoted or in your own words) and include a works cited page in proper MLA format.

Assume a general audience, readers who may not be familiar with the texts you are writing about. You’ll need to provide a context for your readers to understand your points but should not spend much time summarizing; any summary you include must forward your argument in some way---details must serve a purpose.

Work on essay unity: all paragraphs should relate to your thesis

Work on coherence: ideas within paragraphs and between paragraphs should relate to each other.

Work on development: ideas should be fully supported with explanations and supporting detail.

SYNTHESIS ESSAY II (Coles and Mercury Reader)                               Urban/08

About 4 pages

Using the chapters we’ve discussed so far in The Lives of Moral Leadership, write an essay that applies a theory of leadership from the Mercury Reader (Father Dan Hartnett, the Dalai Lama, Elie Wiesel)  to two or three of the leaders  in Coles’ book. Or examine one leader in Coles’ book in-depth by applying two of the theories to the person’s life and work.

POSSIBLE TOPICS (don’t limit yourself to these)

You could discuss the extent to which the leader follows Father Hartnett’s four steps: experience, understanding, imagination, and action.

You could examine how leaders such as Robert Kennedy, Captain MacWhirr, from Conrad’s Typhoon, Danilo Dolci, exemplify the Dalai Lama’s definition of empathy as  “our ability to enter into and, to some extent, share others’ suffering’ based on feeling intimacy with all other sentient beings; we identify with all, not just those like us.

You could show how some people in Coles’ book illustrate Elie Wiesel’s idea that while “it’s easier to look away from victims,” a leader works to improve lives even though “it’s awkward, troublesome, to be involved in another’s pain and despair.” (dangerous often times, too)  Perhaps look at the Thomases and Tomasellos, Dolci, and members of the White Rose.

The title of Father Hartnett’s article “Arm-in-Arm for Justice” refers to working together in solidarity to do what needs to be done. In what ways do leaders in Coles’ book need to work with others? (among others, look at Dolci, Day, and Maurin)

Elie Wiesel claims that indifference cannot be creative; “it is not a beginning; it is and end.” Because compassion is the opposite of indifference, it must be creative  and a beginning. Creativity could be likened to Father Hartnett’s step of Imagination. In what ways are leaders in Coles” book imaginative and creative? (among others look at Elaine Vogel and Lillian Smith)

In your essay, be sure to support general statements with evidence from the texts you are writing about. For example, if you say that Elaine Vogel creatively changed teaching tactics in order to continue her emphasis on slavery and segregation, what exactly did she do and why? Include in-text page citations for details (whether they are quoted or in your own words) and include a works cited page in proper MLA format.

Assume a general audience, readers who may not be familiar with the texts you are writing about. You’ll need to provide a context for your readers to understand your points but should not spend much time summarizing; any summary you include must forward your argument in some way---details must serve a purpose.

Work on essay unity: all paragraphs should relate to your thesis

Work on coherence: ideas within paragraphs and between paragraphs should relate to each other.

Work on development: ideas should be fully supported with explanations and supporting detail.

DEFINITION ESSAY                                                          Urban/08

4-5 pages

Robert Coles seeks to define moral leadership by examining the lives of men and women (famous and not famous) who have led others to improve people’s lives. Based on Coles’ book, readings in The Mercury Reader, and, perhaps, films, write an extended definition of moral leadership or moral leader. There are two words to define. What constitutes “morality”? What constitutes “leadership”? The first term is much harder to define than the second; think about Coles’ last chapter when he asks, “Is a good leader ordinarily a good person?” (228).

For your essay, use a range of defining strategies: formal definitions (genus and differences), synonyms, characteristics/attri butes, contrast/negative definitions (some may be leaders but not for moral reasons; some may have moral motivations but fail to lead others), and examples that illustrate the attributes (both positive and negative), actions, and results that you discuss. Think about what moral leaders try to accomplish, why they are motivated to bring about change, how they go about accomplishing their goals, and how they differ from many of us who would like to see the world improve but don’t take an active role to become leaders to bring about positive change.

To begin gathering ideas in prewriting, you may want to consider various terms Coles uses to explain moral leadership: moral passion, reaching for the moon, conviction, moral intelligence, moral imagination, courage, hopefulness, discipline. See chapter eight for more qualities of moral leadership  Also decide on the people you want to include as examples. After gathering initial ideas, your big task will be to work on organizing the material into a unified, coherent whole. We’ll work on possibilities in class.

As always, be careful to document all of your references to sources with in-text page citations and include a works cited page in proper MLA format.

ARGUMENT RESEACH PAPER: CLAIM OF VALUE, LEADER       Urban/08

6-7 pages plus works cited page

Research any well known figure who was or is considered a leader: a U.S. president or  other national leader,  a religious leader, a civil rights leader, a women’s rights leader, a military leader, an economic leader, etc..Write an argument that attempts to convince a general audience that the figure was/is a good or bad leader. You’ll need to define what a good leader is (“moral leader”?) and then apply characteristics to your topic. When  conducting research, be sure to read various viewpoints; most leaders’ work is nuanced, not 100% good or bad).

To establish credibility, support your claim of value with reasons and evidence, consider counterarguments to show you are informed and fair, but refute most counterarguments in order to bolster your argument. Consider some points that Coles explores about expediency and ambiguity in leadership.

Use at least eight sources to develop your paper, mostly Library Databases for scholarly journal articles that go into depth on subjects;  books are certainly useful for this kind of historical argument; Web sites should be used minimally (no more than two and they must be credible).  One criterion for evaluating your paper will be the depth and breadth of research; see the bibliography assignment.

Document all material from sources whether you quote, paraphrase, or summarize, using MLA format for in-text parenthetical citations and the works cited page. See the sample MLA research argument paper in the Bedford Handbook pp. 659-666.

CHOOSE ANY WELL KNOWN LEADER YOU WANT

I offer just a few ideas (some from Coles’ book and The Mercury Reader)

Any U.S. president, including George W. Bush

Other U.S. government leaders, such as Robert Kennedy, Edward Kennedy.

Any past or present national leader, such as Fidel Castro, Idi Amin, Stalin, Mao Tse
  Tung, Mahatma Gandhi, Henry V, Henry XIII, Ferdinand Marcos, Juan Perez (or Evita),
  Winston Churchill, Margaret Thatcher.

Social leaders, such as Dorothy Day, Martin Luther King Jr,  Danilo Dolci,  the Dalai
    Lama, Susan B Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Cesar Chavez, Jesse Jackson,
    Mother Teresa, Jane Addams, Betty Friedan, Frederick Douglass.

Military leaders, such as Napoleon, George Washington, Ulysses S. Grant, Robert E. Lee,
  Dwight D. Eisenhower, George Patton.

(Etc...)

ARGUMENT RESEACH PAPER: PROBLEM, CAUSES, SOLUTION(S)   Urban/08

6-8 pages plus works cited page

The new president will be expected to lead the nation morally, dealing with many issues---social, economic, environmental, biological, military.  He will consider many arguments for ways to improve people’s lives in the United States and across the globe. Take the role of someone presenting an argument concerning a problem you feel must be solved to a general audience that could include the president.  Choose an issue you care about, research the causes and effects of the problem to educate yourself (Father Hartnett’s second step), read about possible solutions (third step of  “imagination”), and propose the solutions you think are best (reasonable but also visionary).

Then take action by writing an argument. First provide some background information to put your arguments into a context: define terms, explain concepts, provide a “history of the question.”  In the main sections of your paper, establish that a serious problem exists (including effects), examine various causes (solutions aren’t possible without understanding causes), and  finally propose your solutions. To establish credibility as a truth teller, be sure to support your claims with reasons and evidence: examples, facts, statistics, expert testimony. Also consider possible counterarguments, but hold on to your position by refuting most of them. In order to reach your audience, consider Coles’ exploration of how to get things done: do you present your case as a moral issue or as an appeal to your audience’s self interest?

Of course you need to document all material from sources whether you quote, paraphrase, or summarize, using MLA format for in-text parenthetical citations and the works cited page.  See the sample MLA research argument paper (including the works cited page) in the Bedford Handbook pp. 659-666.

Use at least eight sources to develop your argument. Mostly use Library Databases for scholarly journal articles (at least five) that go into depth on subjects and newspapers that give the most current information on the topic. Credible sites on the Internet are ok, especially .gov sites. Books are useful for background information, for narrowing topics, and for general ethical arguments. One criterion for evaluating your paper is the depth and breadth of your research: see the bibliography assignment.

You may need to narrow your focus before conducting research and will probably refine your focus as you read about your topic. Keep an open mind; don’t just conduct research to confirm what you already think but investigate before drawing conclusions.

POSSIBLE TOPICS: PROBLEMS

Don’t limit yourself to these, but let me know what you’re working on.

These are general areas of inquiry; you’ll need to find specific issues to investigate.

Global climate change

Cost of fuel

Fuel shortage

Water shortage

Air pollution/water pollution

Endangered species

Health care in the U.S.
  Health care for military veterans

Teenage pregnancy

Hunger *note, Hunger Week at Loyola is 11/2-11/8: you could look at the issue from a
   Biological perspective (nutrition, genetically engineered food), a Political Science perspective (global food    production and distribution), Social work perspective (domestic
  food policy)

Homelessness
  Homeless military veterans

Public housing (in Chicago?)

Poverty in……

Rising cost of food

Child obesity

Education (public schools: does No Child Left Behind need reforms?)

Education in the arts

Illegal Immigration in the U.S.

Genetic diseases (stem cell research?)

Gun violence in the U.S., especially cities
  Street gang violence in…

The war in Iraq

The war in Afghanistan

Terrorism

U.S foreign policy (Zimbabwe, China, Pakistan, Korea, ….)

Human rights in…

U.S. Economy (Employment opportunities for college grads?)

Disinformation/”bogus news” on the Web

There are many other possibilities; look over newspapers for other topic ideas and for ways to narrow topics.
 

 

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