Posted by: jockmackenzie | January 18, 2010

Persuasive Writing – Part 2


F =Facts and Statistics

R =Reasons

E =Examples

Q =Quotes

O =Opinions

E =Experiences

S = Senses

Information noted in blue type comes from my book Essay Writing: Teaching the Basics from the Ground Up.


In Part 1, I offered a classroom scenario showing Jared and Brittany and their involvement on two sides of an argument. Jared believes the billions of dollars spent on high tech body scanners is a waste of money. Classmate Brittany has taken an opposite view; Brittany believes that spending any amount of money is worthwhile if it means saving even one human life. In Part One I concentrated on Jared’s preparation; today’s entry will look in on Brittany.

Brittany has the same set of classroom notes as everyone else and sees that “Examples” is one of the choices when preparing an argument. Her notes state:


Support your belief with an illustration that provides more information.

One of the beauties of golf is that you can play at almost any age. At my course, there are kids like Andy Mack who is only seven, me at thirteen, my dad who is thirty-nine, and dad’s friend, Archie McBean, who turned eighty last winter.

Brittany hardly knew the difference between a golf club and a lacrosse racket but she thought she knew what Mr. Mackenzie meant. She had to support her idea with an example of how a life or lives  could be saved because of high tech airport security. She needed something specific. Here’s what she came up with:

Suppose you had an object you wanted to sneak onto a plane. Where could you hide it? Secret pockets or the lining of clothes would be an obvious choice. Everyone has read stories about people who hide something in their mouths – like pills or razors blades. Some have clipped something in their hair and that would be really easy with the current style for poofing up hair. Other people have hidden things under their skin or between their toes. Criminals have even hidden things in their rectums.

Brittany was satisfied that she had given lots of examples of how a person could sneak something onto an airplane. She also knew that the “rectum” part was a bit gross but she could see it was possible. And she also knew Jared would be blown away when she showed the internet pictures of full body scans (with the appropriate blurring) and would prove that nobody could hide anything that couldn’t be seen by a scanner!

Next on Brittany’s list: Quotes

Her notes said:


Find someone who is knowledgeable about your topic and repeat exactly what he or she said to prove, explain, or clarify your point of view.

A Parliamentary Assistant to the MLA said, “A perfect example of hypocrisy right here in Canada came in 1993. Throughout his campaign, Jean Cretein promised to get rid of the GST. That promise got him elected, but we’re still paying 6% tax.”

Brittany knew she could find a gazillion quotes on the internet so she tried to narrow her search by typing in “quotes – safety” and found a site titled Great Aviation Quotes – Safety.

At this site ( ), she cut and pasted these quotes:

Flying is so many parts skill, so many parts planning, so many parts maintenance, and so many parts luck. The trick is to reduce the luck by increasing the others.

—   David L. Baker

In flying I have learned that carelessness and overconfidence are usually far more dangerous than deliberately accepted risks.

— Wilbur Wright in a letter to his father, September 1900.

If you are looking for perfect safety, you will do well to sit on a fence and watch the birds; but if you really wish to learn, you must mount a machine and become acquainted with its tricks by actual trial.

—   Wilbur Wright, from an address to the Western Society of Engineers in Chicago, 18 September 1901.

Brittany was happy to have quotes from Wilbur Wright because she knew most of her classmates would recognize the name but she liked the David Baker quote because she felt it proved her point – do whatever you can to make flying safe.

Mr. Mackenzie had been lucky enough to get the computer room for doing much of the research so Brittany tried looking under “wisdom quotes” for something a bit more general. At this site ( she found:

Our greatest glory is not in never falling but in rising every time we fall.


Brittany thought this quote could help support her idea that no matter what ways terrorists found to sneak bombs onto airplanes, we could always find a way to keep safe.

Finally, Brittany typed in “Quotes – taking risks” and found (

You’ll always miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.  ~Wayne Gretzky

A ship in harbor is safe – but that is not what ships are for.  ~John A. Shedd, Salt from My Attic

Happy with what she had accomplished for the class, and knowing she likely wouldn’t use all of the quotes, Brittany felt good about the information she had to support her argument. Planes would not go down in flames – but Jared would!

to be continued . . .

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