Deborah Tannen Summary

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Summary According to Deborah Tannen, agonism refers to ritualized opposition, a situation when a party in a debate wins rather than an argument that comes up when two parties disagree. She claims that the academic world is very agonistic. We tend to think that intellectual inquiry is a metamorphic battle and to show our skills is to criticize, find fault and attack and foster this in students. Students are often taught to criticize and find the weakest point from one’s work to support their view while ignoring the strength and other important facts of the paper that would support other’s viewpoint. This encourages students to be narrow-minded and arrogant which totally diminishes the goal of education. Given this norm in academics, those who…show more content…
In the current decade, students are often encouraged to comment and criticize one’s work. This process is looked as a way to make students think and apply what they had learnt in classrooms. I agree that it indeed provokes students’ thought process and is effective for them to gain better understanding on a certain topic. However, the expectations of criticizing someone’s work had just been raised to a whole new level as they’re actually encouraged to tear apart someone’s work and always having something to disagree with rather than criticizing constructively. During discussions, teachers are often interested to hear students arguing about their own standpoints rather than the actual takeaways from the paper. Structure like this in classrooms only validates that students are able to argue but, diminishes the opportunities of creating values to the scholarly work and voicing out from the side that share the same opinion as the author. This leads to academic rewards for these arguing students as suggested by Deborah Tannen, leaving the rest to believe that they are not good enough for the academia. Based on personal experience, I would like to add that such agonism demotivates students to explore knowledge outside of their field and creates an impression that they are never meant to explore topics that they are least expert at. This structure has to be reshaped to bring back the original goals of criticizing work so that there is a value for everyone in the
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