GRE Argument Essay 227
The following appeared in the editorial section of a local newspaper.
“The librarians in our town’s school system have reported that the number of trips that our students make to their school library on a voluntary basis has decreased significantly in recent years. For example, the average seventh-grade student visited the school library five times last year, but four of those visits were part of required classroom activities. This shows that our students are reading less than in the past. To address this problem, our town needs to improve the atmosphere of the libraries so that they will be comfortable places in which to work. If students view the libraries as uncomfortable, then they are unlikely to want to spend much time there.”
In this editorial, the arguer recommends that the town should improve the atmosphere of the school libraries in order to increase the number of students who visit the libraries. The arguer cites a report made by the town’s schools’ librarians to support his assertion that the students are reading less as is evident by the decline in numbers of students who visit the libraries for reasons other than classroom assignments. The arguer attributes this decline to the uncomfortable atmosphere in the libraries and he therefore, recommends an improvement in the atmosphere of the schools’ libraries in order to attract students to the library for reading. The given argument appears to be persuasive when read for the first time, but a careful analysis of the argument reveals loopholes that render the argument unpersuasive in several respects.
A major lacuna in the given argument is that the arguer does not mention the types of books stocked by the libraries. The reader needs to know the percentage of reading books stocked by the libraries and the rate at which they are borrowed in order to be convinced that the students are indeed not interested in borrowing them and that they are increasingly losing their interest in reading. It is likely that the school libraries stock more books pertaining to the school curriculum as compared to other reading materials. This could explain the reason why the students visit the library more often for their classroom requirements. It is likely that books that would interest a seventh grade student are not stocked by the school libraries and therefore, the students visit the libraries only to meet their academic requirements.
The assumption that a less number of visits to the library is an indication of reading less is grossly unwarranted. It is likely that the students have found other sources which provide better books for reading purposes as compared to the ones offered by the school libraries. It is also possible that the students may be visiting the libraries for a lesser number of times, but they may be spending a lot of time at the library during those visits and they may be reading content other than that required for their classroom activities. Moreover, the arguer needs to rule out the possibility of the establishment of good bookstores in the town that rent out high quality reading materials for a nominal cost. Additionally, it is likely that the prices of books have now reduced to the extent that it is easy for the students to buy them and fulfill their desire for reading. At the same time, convenient internet access may have attracted the students to read eBooks from the comfort of their homes without having to go to the libraries. Unless, the arguer rules out all such possibilities, it is difficult to be convinced that visiting the libraries a lesser number of times means that the students are reading less.
The assumption that the students are uncomfortable due to the atmosphere in the libraries is not supported by any form of evidence. It is likely that the students have no complaints as far as the atmosphere in the libraries is concerned. In such a scenario, improving the atmosphere of the school libraries may have little or no effect on the number of students visiting the libraries on a voluntary basis.
In conclusion, the recommendation made by the arguer is not supported by convincing evidence. The argument needs to be strengthened by providing evidence that clearly establishes a link between the atmosphere in the school libraries and the willingness of the students to visit the libraries on a voluntary basis. Moreover, there is a need to prove that the students are actually reading less. Therefore, in its present form, the argument is grossly unconvincing due to lack of crucial evidence in its support.