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"For many Americans, the concept of success is a source of confusion. As a people, we Americans greatly prize success. We are taught to celebrate and admire the one who gets the highest grades, the one voted most attractive or most likely to succeed. But while we often rejoice in the success of people far removed from ourselves—people who work in another profession, live in another community, or are endowed with a talent that we do not especially want for ourselves—we tend to regard the success of people close at hand, within our own small group, as a threat."
—adapted from Margaret Mead’s The Egalitarian Error
Explain Mead's argument and discuss the extent to which you agree or disagree with her analysis. Support your position, providing reasons and examples from your own experience, observations, or reading.
"For many Americans, the concept of success is a source of confusion. As a people, we Americans greatly prize success. We are taught to celebrate and admire the one who gets the highest grades, the one voted most attractive or most likely to succeed. Butwhile we often rejoice in the success of people far removed from ourselves—people who work in another profession, live in another community, or are endowed with a talent that we do not especially want for ourselves—wetend to regard the success of people close at hand, within our own small group, as a threat."
—adapted from Margaret Mead’s The Egalitarian Error
Explain Mead's argument and discuss the extent to which you agree or disagree with her analysis. Support your position, providingreasonsand examples from your own experience, observations, or reading.
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Often, the best way to generate a strong and elegant thesis is to first generate a powerful and elegant question.
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Expand/explain significance of topic
Respond to topic (Thesis)
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*note: 1 paragraph = 1 idea
According to Margaret Mead, success is a source of confusion for many Americans. We are taught to admire success, and we easily applaud the achievements of celebrities, strangers, and those who succeed in areas that do not interest us. However, when someone close to us excels, we tend to feel threatened. Mead’s assessment is correct.Although we applaud the achievements of celebrities or strangers, the success of friends and family threatens usbecause(1)we fear that we will fall short in comparison to them, (2)they will receive the honors and recognition that we want, or (3)they will set a standard that we cannot reach. Competition with those we know can cause confusion between what we have been taught and what we feel.
Margaret Mead states that success is a source of confusion for many Americans. Even though we are taught to admire those who succeed, we tend to feel threatened by the achievements of people close to us. Although some insecure people may feel threatened by the success of family and friends, others will realize that the accomplishments of people close to us should encourage rather than intimidate us. Successful friends and relatives can serve as role models, showing us that we can succeed in just as they have. Also, unlike a celebrity or stranger, people we know are easily accessible, and we can call on them for advice or to serve as mentors. Additionally, because people close to us come from similar circumstances, they expand our perception of the possibilities available to us and increase our belief that we, too, can succeed. Rather than feeling threatened by the success of those we know, we should view it as a source of inspiration that promotes clarity rather than confusion.
“A good writer arranges material in a way that suits his [sic] theme.”
– from The Nuts and Bolts of College Writing by Michael Harvey, p. 76
Often, when a family member or friend excels at something, others compare us to that person. In elementary school, I usually earned “A”s in English and math. My older brother, on the other hand, had problems with reading comprehension and mathematical concepts, and he rarely received a grade above a “C-” in either subject. My father constantly compared Chino’s grades to mine, accusing him of daydreaming or not working hard enough. Throughout his childhood, my brother heard, “Why can’t you be more like your little sister?” My dad’s criticism only made Chino feel resentful and unappreciated instead of encouraging him to do better. As the years passed, my brother fell farther and farther behind in his studies, often giving up without trying. Comparison not only breeds insecurity, it can also lead to apathy. The achievements of someone close to him made Chino feel threatened because his efforts looked weak in comparison. Success often involves competition and comparison. Though others seldom consider comparing our accomplishments to those of strangers or celebrities, they feel no compunctions about measuring our success against that of family and friends. Thus, those close to us emphasize our inadequacies. They not only make us look bad, they also receive the honors that we feel should come to us.
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University Standard: A minimum of three hours of out-of-class study for every one hour spent in class.
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Andrews, Robert, ed. The Columbia Dictionary of Quotations. New York: Columbia UP, 1993. Print.
“Creative Writing.” Photograph. Creative Writing at AACC. Anne Arundel Community College. Web. 1 August 2013.
Harvey, Michael. The Nuts and Bolts of College Writing. Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing, 2003. Print.
Mead, Margaret. The Egalitarian Error: A Way of Seeing. New York: McCall Publishing, 1970. 73-76. Print.
“Taking an Essay Exam.” Writing Tutorial Services (WTS). Indiana University Bloomington, 27 April 2004. Web. 23 July 2013.
“Written.” Photograph. Usegrid. Web. 24 July 2013.