What Life Asks of Us by David Brooks

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Topic will be based on the essay, What Life Asks of Us by David Brooks

First, a little background:

Brooks says there are two ways of approaching life, as an institutional person, or as an individual. He says both are ok, but he sees institutional thinking on the decline. An institutional person might be connected to family, or religion, or profession, or organizations. An individual thinker is a go-your-own-way type of person. Institutions pass information and skills and rules down from one generation to the next. But individualists don’t always feel beholden to those past rules. Do you see yourself as an institutional type of person or a free thinker? You’d want an accountant to be institutional, but an artist to be an individualist.

Then, the question:

“Which approach to life discussed by David Brooks do you think is better suited to you as a person. Think of institutions you have belonged to and how they have affected you. These might serve as examples to develop your essay.

Your essay should contain:

1. An Introduction with background information, a main idea that answers the question, and key points that would help you to focus, structure, and develop your response.

2. A clear, complete, accurate paragraph summary of Brooks’ essay, “What Life Asks of Us.” This should be your second paragraph.

3. Body paragraphs that develop your theme or key points.

4. A conclusion.

Your impression is your main idea, always. That’s very important. “Impression,” here, is just another word for main idea. William Raspberry’s impression of college majors is that they don’t matter that much. Someone else might have a different impression, might disagree with Raspberry. Lynda Barry’s impression of school is that it is important for kids from troubled homes and should be properly funded. Again, someone else might have a completely different impression. The main idea will be what your paper is about. It will help you to focus your essay.

Your main idea and key points will go in your introduction, with one more important element: Background information. This is extremely important because it allows the reader to understand the context of what is going on.

When you have your introduction, develop your key points into paragraphs. Use a topic sentence to focus each paragraph on a specific point. Use examples and short stories–anecdotes–to develop your body paragraphs. Give details and description of people and places.

When you have developed the body paragraphs–and I’m not certain how many you will have, end the essay with a conclusion.

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