GRE Argument Essay 167
The following appeared in a memo from a member of the Clark City School Board.
“Mason Elementary School is faced with a shortage of classroom space. At the same time, parents in our district are increasingly expressing the desire to see improvements in their children’s reading abilities. Therefore, we should reduce the number of physical education classes at Mason Elementary and convert part of the gymnasium to class-room space. The school will gain the additional space for classrooms without the cost of extending the building and can use the time that students would have spent in physical education classes to provide more reading instruction. This plan will lead to improvements in students’ reading skills.”
In this memo, a member of the Clark City School Board suggests that Mason Elementary School can improve the reading abilities of its students by utilizing the time allotted for physical education for imparting reading instructions to children. The arguer further recommends that the school gymnasium should be partly converted into classroom space which can be utilized for conducting reading classes. He argues that this action would ensure that the school gains additional classroom space without spending money on extending the existing school building. A careful reading of the given argument reveals several flaws that make the argument weak and unsubstantiated.
Common sense tells us that physical education and reading skills are both necessary for the overall development of children. Therefore, the contention that physical education can be ignored for improving the reading abilities of children is largely unjustified. Even if parents are insisting that the school should make efforts to improve the reading abilities of their children, it is unlikely that they will be open to the idea of reducing the physical activity of children in lieu of providing time for reading classes. The argument could have been bolstered to an extent if the arguer had provided some form of evidence that proved that a majority of parents are willing to let their children not engage themselves in physical activity and attend reading classes instead. Moreover, the arguer needs to inform the reader of the percentage of school hours that are dedicated to physical education. This would be needed to convince the reader that these hours are more than what are required and so they can be reduced. In the absence of such evidence, the assumption that the number of physical education classes can be reduced to create time for reading classes is fallacious.
Even if one assumes that reducing the physical education classes would be a justified decision, the reader needs to be convinced that there is a requirement of additional classrooms. As the school in question is an elementary school, it is unlikely that the students need separate classrooms for different subjects. Even if they do need separate classrooms, the arguer needs to establish the need for constructing additional classrooms before recommending the conversion of a part of the gymnasium into classroom space. The arguer should have eliminated other options for carrying out reading classes like continuing in the existing classes, utilization of other available space like the auditorium or school halls.
It is true to an extent that the school will save money by not having to extend the school building if they convert the gymnasium, but there is no denying the fact that the process of constructing classrooms in one portion of the gymnasium would also require some form of financial investment. As the gymnasium is an already established structure, it may need major renovations to make it suitable for conducting classes. Moreover, there may be the requirement of procuring additional furniture to be placed in the classrooms. The arguer has not addressed the problem of relocating the equipment that is presently installed in the gymnasium. Not using the equipment would account for large scale wastage of the financial investments made in procuring the equipment. Moreover, there may be the need to erect a shelter or store room to house the equipment and furniture that was placed in the gymnasium before its renovation. Therefore, the assumption that converting a part of the gymnasium would be a cheaper option needs to be substantiated with data pertaining to the cost analysis of the extension of the school building and the renovation of the gymnasium.
The argument is further weakened by the absence of elimination of options like improving the teaching standards of the school, a change in the course curriculum, change of study materials, audio-visual aids etc. for improving the reading abilities of the students. In view of the above, it is evident that the given argument has been rendered unpersuasive in several respects due to lack of sufficient evidence in its support.