In this assignment, you will apply your knowledge of bias, perspective, and critical thought to a given example.
Step 1: Consider the scenario:
Most college instructors require students to turn off their cell phones in class so that their phones will not ring and also to prevent students from texting during class. The policy has become a serious point of contention among students, many of whom rely on cell phone applications to help organize their ever-changing schedules. Parents, too, have begun raising concerns over their children’s safety. Parents are worried that they will be unable to reach their children during an emergency if all phones are shut off. As a member of the College Board, it is your responsibility to read all such incoming mail. The following is a small sample:
Letter 1: Our civil liberties should never be subject to change. What the school board is attempting to do here is remind students that their rights can be given and taken away by authority. This particular case may be insignificant, but a larger philosophical debate regarding the inherent rights of the people is anything but minor.
Letter 2: I worked hard to get into college. The classroom encompasses everything I value in higher education. It is not the right place or time for students to be fiddling with their cell phones. As a student, I support the new initiative. I hope other students will understand why this move is so important.
Letter 3: I put my trust in the authority at hand. If school officials believe that having cell phones in the classroom is a distraction, I trust their judgment. The public is generally ignorant anyway, and it’s likely that they are expressing opinions out of emotion, not a sense of truth.
Step 2: Analyze different perspectives and biases.
In a two to three-page (minimum) written speech, to be given in front of an audience of parents and college faculty, in which you support the school’s decision to turn off cell phones during class, address the following. Use the aforementioned letters as examples to refute:
- Identify evidence of bias in each of the three letters. How can you describe the notion of bias?
- Define perspective. How does the concept of perspective influence the opinions of the speaker in each letter?
- Is the school’s new proposal fair? Give your view with a set of arguments to support your view.
- Give an opposing view to each letter and its arguments, and give your explanation for why your arguments should be more persuasive than the opposition’s.
- Is there a bias at work in your view as well?
- Briefly explain the perspectives of both sides of each argument. How does critical thought affect perspective?