We are thrilled to present our first-ever guest post, via writer and teacher Rashaan Alexis Meneses, currently a professor at St. Mary’s College of California. Her essay prompt, “How Far Does the Apple Fall?” is designed for an intro-level college writing course, but may well be appropriate for advanced high school students.
Examining Assumptions Essay #1:
“How Far Does the Apple Fall?”
We are all of us influenced by the people closest to us, and to them we owe a great deal. For this assignment you will examine how your parents, guardians, or grandparents influenced your political perspective. Try to think as broadly as possible. Political doesn’t just mean red or blue, liberal or conservative. Politics run deep in terms of social class, religion, gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, environmental concerns or lack thereof, global or local—there are many ways to see the world politically.
Focus on one or two specific ways in which older family members, parents or guardians, have shaped your political perspective. Whether you have adopted some of their political leanings or outright rejected them, this is a chance for you to reflect upon and examine your assumptions about yourself and the world you live in. You will want to depict at least two and no more than four specific events, circumstances, or conversations that you can reference as evidence as to how you are politically influenced or not by your parents or guardians.
This is a chance to be creative with voice and form, so you will want to rely on concrete actions. Avoid using adjectives. Give your readers specific evidence to show not tell how you are or are not politically influenced by your parents/guardians. I encourage you to refer back to the reading assignments we have covered in class that deal with family and identity. Note how each author uses tone and style. How do they assert authority? What kind of evidence do they use to develop their stance and build a thesis?
Your essay should be a minimum of (4)-pages long, typed in Times or Times New Roman only, double-spaced with one-inch margins on all sides. Always carefully proofread your paper several times. I highly recommend reading it aloud to yourself at least twice to catch typos, faulty language, missing points, etc. Be sure to refer to your past graded essays to address strengths and weaknesses.
For this assignment, I will be looking for essays that 1) demonstrate that students understand competing viewpoints, 2) that students can generate a plausible thesis and that 3) students can identify and reflect upon their own assumptions on a particular topic. You will also want to be sure to include 4) a strong and persuasive voice that can substantiate all claims with evidence.
Rashaan Alexis Meneses teaches English/Composition and Collegiate Seminar at Saint Mary’s College of California and has received fellowships at The MacDowell Colony and The International Retreat for Writers at Hawthornden Castle in Scotland. With work forthcoming in Kartika Review, her publications include Puerto Del Sol, New Letters, BorderSenses, Kurungabaa, The Coachella Review, Pembroke Magazine, Doveglion Press, and the anthology Growing Up Filipino II: More Stories for Young Adults. http://rashaanalexismeneses.com/