7 Reasons to Choose Controversial Topics For School Essays
The temptation to avoid controversial topics when selecting a topic for your next persuasive essay could be strong. However, you’re likely doing yourself, your audience, and Future You a disservice by taking the easy way out.
In this article, we examine seven great reasons to grab the proverbial bull by the horns. These are the reasons you want to ruffle some feathers. (And no, none of the reasons are to win an argument on social media.) Let’s get started!
1. Force Your Audience To Think
Critical thinking is a lost art, it seems. Just take one look around Facebook. One could easily make the argument that it’s a virtual cesspool teeming with people who live in their own versions of the Truth.
It’s like a 24/7 Thanksgiving Dinner argument with the relatives you just don’t see eye-to-eye with. Fortunately, choosing controversial topics for an academic paper restricts arguments to reputable sources. Your audience cannot go to IAmRight.com to throw out skewed or misleading information.
You essentially force critical thought in them by attacking the types of laziness they might rely on in the social media realms. Since your entire class is restricted to quality and reputable sources, they will have to do the same when constructing their arguments and thinking about yours.
2. Engage Detractors
Do not be afraid to engage those who disagree with you. The worst-case scenario is that you are wrong and end up changing your thinking where it actually needs to be changed.
There is nothing productive about being right when you’re not. So you literally have nothing to lose by engaging those with whom you disagree. Taking on a controversial topic may seem like poking a hornet’s nest to you, but it will ultimately be a win-win.
3. Work Out Your Own Beliefs
There could be some trepidation to take on controversial topics at first. That usually comes from a place where you fear being wrong or are just intimidated because you know what you believe but you don’t know why.
College students run into this situation all the time. It’s because they’ve borrowed viewpoints up to that point from influential friends or family members without truly vetting the viewpoints for themselves.
The only way to know whether what you believe is your belief or borrowed from someone else is to dig into it. An essay assignment is a great way to do that. It will force you to examine both sides and vet what you think against what the evidence shows.
Sometimes you’ll emerge edified in your thinking. Other times, you’ll actually change. Whatever happens, just know that the outcome is for the best.
4. Sharpen Your Workplace Acumen
Taking on controversial topics in the context of a school assignment is great for Future You. This is especially true when it comes to the workplace.
Many topics can seem hot-button to you in a classroom. You might make new friends or create new enemies. But what’s actually happening is that you’re learning to address tough issues in a diplomatic way.
And you’re doing it in a safe environment where the longest-lasting impact is maybe a bad grade on an assignment (or a good one and maybe a few lost friendships). It’s an opportunity for growth that will serve you well as you enter the workforce, provided you are diplomatic in your approach and back up any points with evidence.
5. Consider Other Viewpoints
Writing or speaking about controversial topics is not possible without looking at the other side. Only by knowing where the counterarguments are coming from can you make a strong case for what you believe.
As we’ve already mentioned, it can also have the opposite effect. You can actually change your point of view after what you learn. That’s a good thing, though. It keeps you from living in the dark and accepting what you’ve been told.
The ultimate result is a version of yourself that is more of a critical thinker. And, as a critical thinker, you’ll be able to form the right opinions and back them up when challenged.
6. Push For Change
Students can make a huge impact on the way that the environment is treated, on how companies do business, and on what the future policies are for this country. Before they can do the most good, however, they have to be able to justify their positions.
Only by going beyond the rhetoric and the groupthink can you make a meaningful impact. You have to step out of what you think and what your friends think. You have to see the world the way someone different from you does and have a degree of empathy for why they think that way.
Otherwise, you’re only going to be arguing. Arguing is of little value. Persuading is what gets things done. And you cannot persuade if you’re not willing to listen. By taking on controversial topics now, you force yourself to consider other views. That makes you a much more likely agent for change, both now and in the future.
7. Learn Care In Delivery
You might have heard it said that how you say something is as important as what you say. This is absolutely true! If you are always talking down to those with different viewpoints, you’ll only succeed at making enemies and ingraining others into their positions.
That could help you know who your enemies are, but it will do little more than that. What you need for real change are allies. And it’s very unlikely you’ll find any with an uncompromising and condescending position. Writing a persuasive essay about a controversial topic gets you out of the argumentative version of yourself that you have to hold back on social media and forces you to become a diplomat.
Controversial Topics Make For Great Essays
We hope that you can see the value now in choosing controversial topics for your essays. It not only sharpens your point of view and helps you come to terms with what you actually believe, but it also helps you to change hearts and minds. Now it’s your turn, readers.
What is something controversial that you’ve changed your point of view on in the last few years? Also, what is a position you’ve only become more assured of after choosing it for the topic of an essay? Sound off in the comments section below.
[Featured Image by Flickr Creative Commons]