About Argument Mapping
What is argument mapping?
Why reasoning skills?
1. Does the US have a moral duty to offer asylum to more international refugees? What is the basis of such a duty?
2. Why might a government escalate a trade war? What are the economic and social implications of issuing tariffs?
3. Should pro athletes be compelled to stand for the national anthem? Who gets to determine the meaning of such a gesture?
4. Should a baker be allowed to refuse to create a wedding cake for a gay couple? How can we weigh religious freedom against the need to prevent discrimination?
5. Should the government regulate how Facebook handles its users’ data? Can users voluntarily give up their right to privacy by accepting user agreements?
ii. Asking questions like this and being able to see how others answer them allows students to see exactly where they and the other person are not on the same page. This might mean the student realizes they were missing a major point. It might also mean that the student now knows where to focus on for convincing the other person. Sometimes it might make the discussion less frustrating and other times it might make clear a solution. All of this requires students to be able to think about reasons directly.
So how is a diagram going to improve reasoning skills?
- The point isn’t to solve the puzzle correctly (although students do enjoy working through our puzzle exercises!), it’s to think about why you’re placing any reason in the spot you are. It’s to be able to explain to yourself and others why you mapped the argument a certain way. With argument mapping, it really is all about the journey!
- Our mapping exercises engage students in deliberate practice with targeted and timely feedback. Research shows that both of these elements (deliberate practice and targeted feedback) are critical for building skills in any domain, from basketball to piano to coding.
- When students collaborate on mapping exercises, they’re energetic and focused. The process of talking about how specific reasons work to justify a claim is naturally engaging. They are forced to own the vocabulary of arguments when they have to talk to each other about the best way to map a text.
What arguments do students map? Theirs? Someone else’s?
ii. Students build the skills by mapping other people’s arguments for two reasons.
1. First, this exercise allows them to focus on how the reasons work together to support a claim – setting aside their personal biases and opinions. They can focus on learning how reasons interact rather than winning the argument. Further, in order to best map someone else’s argument, they have to consider how the author themself would have mapped it. This rigorous “listening” instills a sense of intellectual charity that allows for healthier and more productive arguments.
2. Second, this type of activity helps students learn to critically evaluate an argument on its own terms, rather than simply endorsing or dismissing it based on their feelings or prior experience. How strongly do the reasons support the claim? Are the premises true? iii. After they’ve mapped other people’s arguments, they’re able to think about reasons and arguments with the right vocabulary and skills to craft their own.