Question by Silas G: Defending a point of view in class?
I’m in an English class which includes a lot of forensics (debate, learning how to argue, etc). I don’t want to get into what exactly it is we’re debating because I think that would affect the answers I get, but suffice it to say that everyone in class tends to agree with the author, and one of the professors.

Despite shamelessly promoting the point of view of the book (which I disagree with), the professor is a genius, especially when it comes to, well, arguing.

Case in point, today she asked everyone who had worked as a web designer to raise their hands in class today. I’ve done a lot of back-end coding and programming, but I am no commercial arts student. So when she turned around and asked me a question which, by all rights, didn’t have anything to do with web design, “as a web designer, why would you choose that picture and what message would you be trying to send with it”, I was caught off guard and couldn’t do more than “um..” and start to speak before other students, eager to “save” me, started to interrupt me and were finally called on.

Maybe it’s a little dishonest, but I thought what she did was brilliant. People pull tricks like that in the real world, and I’m in class to learn how to react when things like that happen. The thing is, I don’t really know where to begin.

I experience a lot of “esprit d’escelair”; I always know what to say about ten minutes after it would do me any good. The textbook we have for the class has a lot of info about presenting persuasive arguments in general, but nothing to cover defending one’s self in the kind of verbal sparring I encountered today.

I don’t want to be caught flat on my back again like I was today, and it’s a personal goal of mine to defend my point of view (and speak out about it in front of a class that’s terminally agreeing with eachother that’s bound to find what I have to say pretty disagreeable). I just don’t know where to get started. If I can do it here, I’ll be able to do it in the real world.

Any personal anecdotes, websites, or advice is welcome.

Best answer:

Answer by No Lie
good luck.

What do you think? Answer below!

4 thoughts on “Defending a point of view in class?”

  1. Look at this teacher and say, THIS HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH WEB DESIGN FROM MY POINT OF VIEW, DO YOU HAVE ANOTHER QUESTION MORE APPROPRIATE TO THE TOPIC OR COULD YOU EXPLAIN TO ME WHY THIS IS A VALID QUESTION WITHING THE FRAMEWORK OF OUR DISCUSSION? After all, this is not a dictatorship or a way to trick someone, we are looking for meaningful answers.

  2. Your mistake was claiming to be a web “designer” when you are actually a programmer who worked on web applications. The way to avoid such traps is to be precise in your use of language. When talking to people who agree with us the imprecision causes no problems so we form bad habit not only in speaking but in thinking.

    The picture used on a web site and even the choice of fonts create an emotional response and is part of design as well as the logic that promote usability. Programmers are called developers and implement the designers visions but often they also do the logic because they are not working with a designer.

    When confronted on a point that is really about the definition of a word, do not argue about the definition. You should say something like “I am sorry I misunderstood what you meant, I have no experience in visual design”, or in a different situation ” I think we are not defining _____ the same way. What I mean is—“

  3. When I was in college I experienced a lot of this. I like to debate and, of course, the professor is at an advantage being in a position of authority, being older, more experienced and etc..

    As you get older you’ll get better and faster in your rebuttals if you continue to debate. It’s easy to get caught when you’re in someone else’s territory.

    I always try to found my basic arguments in simple fact and logic. Your rebuttal should have been ‘Well, I’m NOT a web designer but I’d be interested in hearing from some one who is…’ or ‘As a web designer I’m not sure that I WOULD choose that picture…’.

    Remember there is nothing wrong with saying ‘I’m not sure’, nobody can expect you to have an answer for everything, It shouldn’t lower your standing to admit that you don’t know something.

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