Posted by Jaime on Saturday, March 15, 2008 at 9:09pm.
I need help identifying the main arguments in the essay as well as the supports used.
I believe the thesis is:
If children are taught their place in the environment they will look at other species with a sense of fellowship and community.
I am also supposed to evaluate the soundness of the writer's argumentation.
THANKS IN ADVANCE FOR THE HELP RECEIVED
HIDDEN LESSONS: BY DAVID SUZUKI
In spite of the vast expanse of wilderness in this country, most Canadian children grow up in urban settings. In other words, they live in a world conceived, shaped and dominated by people. Even the farms located around cities and towns are carefully groomed and landscaped for human convenience. There’s nothing wrong with that, of course, but in such an environment, it’s very easy to lose any sense of connection with nature.
In city apartments and dwellings, the presence of cockroaches, fleas, ants, mosquitoes or houseflies is guaranteed to elicit the spraying of insecticides. Mice and rats are poisoned or trapped, while the gardener wages a never-ending struggle with ragweed, dandelions, slugs and root-rot. We have a modern arsenal of chemical weapons to fight off these invaders and we use them lavishly.
We worry when kids roll in the mud or wade through a puddle because they’ll get “dirty.” Children learn attitudes and values very quickly and the lesson in cities is very clear – nature is an enemy, it’s dirty, dangerous or a nuisance. So youngsters learn to distance themselves from nature and to try to control it. I am astonished at the number of adults who loathe or are terrified by snakes, spiders, butterflies, worms, birds – the list seems endless.
If you reflect on the history of humankind, you realize that for 99 per cent of our species’ existence on the planet, we were deeply embedded in and dependent on nature. When plants and animals were plentiful, we flourished. When famine and drought struck, our numbers fell accordingly. We remain every bit as dependent upon nature today – we need plants to fix photons of energy unto sugar molecules and to cleanse the air and replenish the oxygen. It is folly to forget our dependence on an intact ecosystem. But we do whenever we teach our offspring to fear or detest the natural world. The urban message kids get runs completely counter to what they are born with, a natural interest in other life forms. Just watch a child in a first encounter with a flower or an ant – there is instant interest and fascination. We condition them out of it.
The result is that when my 7-year old daughter brings home new friends, they invariably recoil in fear when she tries to show them her favorite pets – three beautiful salamanders her grandfather got for her in Vancouver. And when my 3-year old comes wandering in with her treasures – millipedes, spiders, slugs and sowbugs that she catches under rocks lining the front lawn – children and adults alike usually respond by saying “yuk.”
I can’t overemphasize the tragedy of that attitude. For, inherent in this view is the assumption that human beings are special and different and that we lie outside nature. Yet it is belief that is creating many of our environmental problems today.
Does it matter whether we sense our place in nature so long as we have cities and technology? Yes, for many reasons, not the least of which is that virtually all scientists were fascinated with nature as children and retained that curiosity throughout their lives. But a far more important reason is that if we retain a spiritual sense of connection with all other life forms, it can’t help but profoundly affect the way we act. Whenever my daughter sees a picture of an animal dead or dying, she asks me fearfully, “Daddy are there any more?” At 7 years, she already knows about extinction and it frightens her.
The yodel of a loon at sunset, the vast flocks of migrating waterfowl in the fall, the indomitable salmon returning thousands of kilometers – these images of nature have inspired us to create music, poetry and art. And when we struggle to retain a handful of California condors or whooping cranes, it’s clearly not from a fear of ecological collapse, it’s because there is something obscene and frightening about the disappearance of another species at our hands.
If children grow up understanding that wea re animals they will look at other species with a sense of fellowship and community. If they understand their ecological place – the biosphere – then when children see the great virgin forests of the Queen Charlotte Islands being clearcut, they will feel physical pain, because they will understand that those trees are an extension of themselves.
When children who know their place in the ecosystem see factories spewing poison into the air, water and soil, they will feel ill because someone has violated their home. This is not mystical mumbo-jumbo because we have lost a sense of ecological place. Those of us who are parents have to realize the unspoken, negative lessons we are conveying to our children. Otherwise, they will continue to desecrate this planet as we have.
It’s not easy to avoid giving these hidden lessons. I have struggled to cover my dismay and queasiness when Severn and Sarika come running in with a large wolf spider or when we’ve emerged from a ditch covered with leeches or when they have been stung accidently by yellowjackets feeding on our leftovers. But that’s nature. I believe efforts to teach our children to love and respect other life forms are priceless.
- English - Ms. Sue, Saturday, March 15, 2008 at 9:39pm
If the thesis is that children should be taught to appreciate nature, I don't think the author has proven it. I think the author has proved the negative -- what happens when children are not taught or experienced nature. I don't believe he's proven the thesis -- that children will respect other species if they're taught that. In fact, he seems to be saying that children are naturally curious and respect nature.
Is it possible that the thesis is that adults and sterile urban environments interfere with children's appreciation of other species?
- English - cheryl, Saturday, March 15, 2008 at 10:04pm
I need to check my grammar, nouns, verbs, ect.
The book as well as the CD has been enjoyable for me. I have used both within my classes. Students had to listen to the beats and the rhythm of the music being played. Once they heard it they were to stop it and listen to it again. Once they did that students had to write about what they thought the music what it means to them. After they wrote what the music meant, they were to play it again, stop, and draw something that comes to mind. Students responded well to this assignment and because this lesson had been a success it will be done again in future classes.
I always found it to be interesting to study and listen to classical. When my children were younger I had them listening to classical music and we had talked about how they felt about what was being played. They weren’t as responsive as my students, but I did have my children know that there are a large number of genres out there.
I, however, enjoyed sharing the book with my mother and with one of my old neighbors. They both talk about Duke Ellington, Tommy Dorsey and the other big bands. My mother talked to me about how she used to listen to music all of the time when she was younger. Even when she comes to visit she always has a CD in her purse waiting to be played.
To reflect on this topic, I would like to use music more in my lessons. As said earlier my students work well on the lesson I did with them. Music is something that my students can relate to and be able to be more expressive in class. Instead of classic music I can have students get in groups of three or four who have different music styles. From there students need to either come up with which one of the three or four genres they want to work with to do the assignment. The second option is to choose a completely new genre outside what they listen to. This option can possibly widen their choice of music.
- English - xyz, Sunday, January 4, 2009 at 5:21pm
- English - emma, Saturday, September 26, 2009 at 8:34pm
what rhetorical devices does david suzuki use in his opening sentence, and how does it begin to introduce his subject?
- English - Anonymous, Thursday, October 15, 2009 at 6:59pm
Children learn attitudes and values very quickly and the lesson in cities is very clear – nature is an enemy, it’s dirty, dangerous or a nuisance.
can this be the thesis?
- English - zxcvbn, Monday, October 26, 2009 at 4:06pm
i think the thesis could be something along the lines of: If adults do not teach their children about nature in the correct manner, the the child's views on nature will be corrupted...as for rhetorical device for the first sentence "In spite of the vast expanse of wilderness in this country, most Canadian children grow up in urban settings." i would say periodic sentence? what do you guys think?
- English Hidden Lessons - barefootgoddess74, Monday, September 20, 2010 at 6:49pm
Nature and Life are an extension of ourself that we ignore because if we acknowledged that connection many of the things that we use for convience would not be productive to our day to day living. Living with nature affects the convience of our technology and most people are dependant on the products of technology. We are conditioned against nature unconsciously by those around us just as Mr Suzuki suggests. His thesis suggests not children but adults need to take a step back to appreciate the bueaty of nature. He uses children to point out that inherantly we are drawn to nature when we are young and are conditioned against it by the reactions of those around us as we grow which leads to a seperation from nature in order to fit into society.
- English - k, Tuesday, March 29, 2011 at 10:31pm
In spite of/most is a comparative rhetoric- Suzuki lets us know how little we know of the surrounding environment (vast also alludes to subconscious if you want to get philosophical about our disconnection to nature)
You're right about the thesis(but who knows why you paraphrased 'wea're animals' in the text you cut and paste as Suzuki's original) - it's one of those special times when a thesis comes at the end which can happen effectively in Cause and Effect essays
One criticism is that he blames individuals/families/consumers rather than governments/corporations
- English - amy, Friday, September 30, 2011 at 9:10pm
Thesis: For convenience & cleanliness, adults subconsciously teach and demonstrate to the younger generation to hate and detest Nature which in turn causes them to disregard their place in the ecosystem and become oblivious to Nature's impact on their lives as they grow up to destroying it.
- English - zoo, Friday, September 30, 2011 at 9:53pm
What are rhetorical devices used in this essay?
- English - Aman, Wednesday, October 3, 2012 at 6:20pm
David Suzuki uses examples that include his daughters. Why do you think he does this? Support your answer by incorporating a quotation into your response.
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