Class Goals: Discuss Chang's essay and rehearse techniques of evaluating assumptions and implications, audience and purpose, using evidence and development.
Connection to Course Goals: Continues rehearsal of types of academic responses to highlight choices both the authors make in their essays and that they will make as writers themselves.
- Small group activity. Divide the class into 6 groups. After discussing the topic amongst themselves, they will "teach" the class their topic, either the summary of the Chang article or a type of response to it. They will need to provide evidence to support their assertions. (You may want to group them yourselves according to ability (but do so sneakily!). For example, people who still need work on summary or reading comprehension could be in group "b".) Have them assign a person to take charge of reporting their results, but they should all be prepared to aid in the discussion.
Have an overhead with these questions (or make them available otherwise to the groups):
(a) audience analysis group
- Who is Chang's audience? (it may originally have been a class assignment)
- How does Chang address this particular audience in terms of
- language? (such as "techno-coolies")
- evidence? (uses stats, historical data)
- what he assumes as common knowledge? (familiarity with the magazine sources he cites-- is this a fair assumption?)
- what he assumes must be explained? (eg. "streets of gold" myth -- is this a fair assumption? Why? Does it help prove his point?)
(b) summary/response group
- What are Chang's main ideas? Support this with quotes and paraphrases. (Main ideas: US has a false idea of Asian Americans as a "model minority" -- well-educated, hard-working, affluent exemplars of the validity of the American dream. He believes this is not just a myth, but a dangerous one.
A nice way to highlight the dichotomy Chang sees between the myth and the reality is to put up an OH of a table labeled "myth" in one column and "reality" in the other (see the "Teacher's Guide" to RA) to illustrate the false idea of the model minority compared to the more grim reality for the majority of Asian Americans.
See also "Engaging the Text" section after the Chang essay. The third question is excellent: "Why is the myth of the model minority so widely embraced, according to Chang?" "What does it do for us as a country?" also forces them to see ideology as active and serving a function : our myths "do" something for us in creating and sustaining a national and cultural identity.
- What types of evidence does he use?
- Did you find his evidence effective?
(c) purpose analysis group
- What is Chang's purpose in writing this piece? (it may originally have been a class assignment)
- How does he attempt to fulfill this, to convince his audience,
in terms of :
- the evidence he chooses
- his tone
- his use of personal experience
(d) analyzing assumptions
- What assumptions does Chang make?
- Does he convince you of their validity?
- What is his solution to the problem he addresses?
- Do you think it could work?
(e) implications of Chang's argument
- Chang asserts in paragraph six that "the media propagates two crucial assumptions".
- Think of examples of these assumptions in your own lives, and the media. Do they support his claim? Or do they negate it?
- What are the implications for Asian Americans of Chang's assertion (paragraph 17) that "Asians identif[y] with the white majority, with its values and wishes"?
(f) analyzing effectiveness of organization
- Without doing a formal backwards outline, how does Chang structure his essay?
- Does he do so effectively? Why or why not?
- Groups report their findings to the class and lead a discussion (with your help) about their topic. Help people from outside the group to disagree with, agree with, or add to the discussion and make sure you highlight for them what's really important for them to get in order to do an effective summary/response. The italicized answers above provide important points to highlight if they do not come up "organically" through their presentation).
Assignment: Read Pincus and write a brief academic response to it on the focus of your choice (effectiveness of evidence/tone/organization; analysis of assumptions and implications...)
If you have extra time: Groups write a thesis for their group's response and begin to outline how they would organize an essay to support that thesis (the next class period will focus on structure). Have them present their theses and outlines.