Now a days there’s a lot of pressure for high school graduates to further their education by attending college. Hard evidence states that more high school graduates attend college immediately after graduation compared to any other generation. However, college may seem more of a challenge to some rather than others whom may “need” vocational school. Getting an education is important but some say college isn’t for everyone. In the article “What’s Wrong with Vocational School?” Charles Murray says that not every student is mentally suitable for college and vocational school would prepare them for the vigorous academic demands that come along with college. To critically analyze if this argument is effective in it’s ways, there are parts that one would have to look into and compare to opposing essays to expose weaknesses and strengths in his argument. In a Critical analyzer’s view, one would want to look to see if the writer backed up their statements with evidence in order to persuade the target audience.
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Analyses also call for doing background research of the author, which could sway the reader to believe some aspects of the argument and doubt others. Overall, the job of a Critical/Analytical Reader is to look at the logical fallacies and strong points the author make to conclude weather an argument is doing what the author ultimately wants, persuading there target audience. When it comes to “What’s Wrong with Vocational School,” Charles Murray’s argument could seem effective in the ways of persuading an audience that is on his side. However, he may not effectively be persuading a neutral audience or catching the attention of opposing audience because he doesn’t back up his strong opinions with facts, evidence, or statements from outside sources. Murray’s transparent opinions and strong sense of diction shows the majority of the audience he is trying to persuade.
Murray says, “a four-year college teaches advanced analytic skill and information at a level that exceeds the intellectual capacity of most people” (Kirszner, Mandell 677). By putting such a strong statement earlier on in his essay, it is obvious he is talking to an audience that already agrees with his views. Also, a statement should be backed up by information outside of his own to validate that his statement is true. By having an audience that is on their side, the author uses strongly written opinions to support his ideas which make the audience have an even stronger stance in his direction. Murray also uses bold statements to keep his audience hooked in by making unvarnished supporting ideas. For example, “ A bachelors degree in a field such as sociology, psychology, economics, history, or literature certifies nothing” (Kirszner, Mandell 678). By putting such a profound yet unaccredited statement like this in his article he can keep his reader hooked in because such large statements make a supporting audience validate the authors opinion by associating it as “fact” that he clearly cannot support statistically.
This can also be found as use of pathos, because he names a list of fields that someone could find as a high achievement and states that such an accomplishment has no value, that it accomplishes “nothing.” The emotional attachment one has with sociology, history or psychology would find Murray’s statements offensive if they truly loved their jobs and considered what they did in that specific field as “certified.” On the other hand, in an article “The privileges of the Parents” by Margaret Millar, her argument is backed up with data, quotes and even anecdotes from past experiences that make her ideas seem more valid. For instance, she states, “A college education has benefits that ripple down through the generations” ( Kirszner, Mandell 675). This is backed up by previous information from the Educational Testing Service (EST) that “By age 4 the average child in a professional family hears about 20 million more words the average child in a working-class family.” (Kirszner, Mandell 674).
By her addressing the facts before opinions like thus, it gives her credibility to make strong statements because she showed that she did research. Upon doing research on Charles Murray it was discovered that he went to Harvard, which may make one doubt the validity of his argument. Another faulty is that a man who went to such a prestigious school will have a different expectation than someone who went to the University of New Hampshire for example. Of course he doesn’t think college is for everyone because not everyone may be able to make it through a college as vigorous as Harvard. Anyone that attends Harvard has some amount of talent but “anything below an IQ of 110 is problematic…if you want to do well [in college], you should have an IQ of 115 or higher” (Kirszner, Mandell 677). By making this statement, one can doubt his arguments validity; he may be making too high of an expectation for the “qualifying” student academically college abled and underestimating the “unqualified” college student that should try two years of vocational school before attempting a four year college.
Millar, who did not attend an Ivy League school like Murray, and did an exceptionally well job of convincing her readers by stating facts with opinions. If a woman who went to UCLA can do that, than Murray may be overestimating college and adding more insult than encouragement. If a parent has a child with an IQ less than that of a “qualifying” one, then Murray may appear discriminatory towards an audience that is associated with a demographic that the majority of his argument is dedicated to, the kids and their education.
Murray’s argument could seem strong to those already on his side and extremely opinionated by those on the opposing side but at an analytical standpoint it has some good ideas with valid support and some fallacies. An example of a logical fallacy is when he says, “few people who are intellectually unqualified yearn for the experience, any more than someone who is athletically unqualified for a college varsity want to have his shortcomings exposed at practice everyday” (Kirszner, Mandell677). Firstly, this is a logical fallacy because he is comparing the drive of education with the drive of a sport, a participation activity, which does not have the same ethical value.
You are going to college ultimately for your education, if you fail then you don’t get kicked out and do not play a sport; so one has more of a moral value than the other. Finally, this is a fallacy is because an athlete may want his shortcomings exposed so he may learn and get better, likewise when you attend college you aren’t ready for the academically challenging work so you may grow and expand your horizons while there. The statement can be easily turned around which is what an author doesn’t want to happen, so this logical fallacy is among a few that could hinder his argument rather that help it.
Charles Murray’s “What Wrong with Vocational School?” argument proves to be strong in the fact that undeniably confident statements kept his supporting audience hooked in. However, the strong opinions and slightly pompous approach of who really “qualifies” for college may avert neutral audience. What it lacked was the evidence to support his bold ideas; with evidence come reasoning and logic, which may draw a critical thinker to consider an argument as valid and creditable. Between the under supported statements and the deductive fallacies, Murray’s persuasive argument may not persuade a neutral audience to critically consider his views based upon the logical support. His opinions can also hurt his argument because opinionated statements can be turned around and used against him, especially if they aren’t supported with evidence.
However, what Murray can achieve is making an audience that is agreeing with him from the start find his strong opinions and statements useful and inspiring to amplify their dedication to stand on the issue at hand. Overall, his opinions are worded strongly; however, some seem less valid because of the support behind it. Charles Murray, being a writer for the opinion section of the Wall Street Journal, would know how to make an opinion strong, but may rely on opinion a little too much to make a valid point. Also, being a graduate form Harvard, he may be underestimating the “un-qualifying” student and overestimating the “qualifications” to succeed in college. Murray’s essay may give a supporting audience a stronger stance, but in the eyes of neutral and opposing audiences, may not hold to credibility because his deductive reasoning is not backed up with evidence, statistics or statements.
Brady, W., H.. Charles Murray.
http://www.aei.org/scholar/charles-murray/. 2013. American Enterprise Institute for Public Research. Web. 14 Sep. 2013 Miller, Margaret. “The Privileges of the Parents.” Practical Argument: A Text and Anthology. 2nd Ed. Laurie G. Kirszner and Stephen R. Mandell. Boston: Bedford/St. Martins. 2011. Print. Murray, Charles. “What’s Wrong with Vocational Scholl?.” Practical Argument: A Text and Anthology. 2nd Ed. Laurie G. Kirszner and Stephen R. Mandell. Boston: Bedford/St. Martins. 2011. Print.