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CBEST Essay using technology prompt


rolandj727 3 / 7  
Jun 15, 2009   #1
I borrowed this topic from an earlier CBEST prompt. I am interested in comments especially related to the two items below.

IV. Usage: the extent to which the writing shows care and precision in word choice

V. Structure and Conventions: the extent to which the writing is free of errors in syntax, paragraph structure, sentence structure, and mechanics (e.g., spelling, punctuation, and capitalization)

>>>>>>>>>>

Technology

Topic: Technology is very much a part of modern life. Many people see technology as a force that has escaped from human control. Others feel that technology has improved the quality of life. Do you think that the contribution technology has made to modern life has been positive or negative? State your position on this issue and support it with appropriate examples.

Technology has been a decisive fact in making modern life a decisively improved over the earlier less technological eras. Mankind is far healthier and happier than mankind has been at any other point in history. The combination of advances in technology over the last hundred years has allowed man to be increasingly improve humans quality of life. There are three major areas where technology has improved modern life; medical care, transportation systems and the human diet.

Medical advancements have allowed humans to live longer and healthier than ever before. Technological advances in drugs, artificial body parts and medical operations have lead to better health. It is now routine to get a heart replacement; with 30,000 people do so every year which was an unimaginable in the past. There are over 5,000 drugs available to the medical community with the 20 most widely employed drugs were not even available 10 years ago. Thousands of people have artificial arms, legs, hearts, and knees which allow them to live a near normal life. The human life span has jumped form only 30 years to over 70 years since the 1700's.

Modern transportation systems provide for easy movement of people and cargo to different locations around the world. World trade can flourish because goods can move rapidly and inexpensively any where they are required. During the winter in North American fruits can be imported from summer crops in South America. Low cost products can move from China to the US, while high tech products from the US are sold to Europe. People can travel a round the world for business or pleasure in a way that was never possible before. A trip across the US from the east coast to California in 1849 took about three months by sea and about 5 months by land. It was a long, difficult and dangerous trip. The same trip now only takes about 6 hours all while sitting in the comfort of sleek airliner.

The human diet has improved in both quantity and quality to unprecedented levels due to the advances in technology. Recent genetic engineering has created new plants that are highly resistant to bugs, less affected by cold weather and product larger harvests. Organic and inorganic chemicals provide farmers with the capability to raise more crops per year with greater nutritional value than old farming methods did. Other chemicals prevent the soil from being depleted so it is now longer of any product production value. This was a common condition that limited food production in the past where over farming was typical.

Modern technology is a major contributor in improving the quality of human's lives over past times in history. Medical advances allow humans to live longer and more healthy lives than ever before. Transportation systems move people around the world high rates of speed and at prices that most can afford. Humans have never eaten so well or had so much as they do today. Technology has improved the lot of humans to a level undreamed of in past ages.

EF_Simone 2 / 1,986  
Jun 15, 2009   #2
In choosing words, don't use the same word twice in one sentence, as you do in your first two sentences:

Technology has been a decisive fact in making modern life a decisively improved over the earlier less technological eras. Mankind is far healthier and happier than mankind has been at any other point in history.

Demonstrate care and precision in word choice by using "decisive" only once and by not using "mankind" at all, unless you are speaking of only males.

In general, however, your grammar and word choice are strong. I notice a few awkward sentences but few glaring errors.

Here's one fix:

It is now routine to get a heart replacement, which was an unimaginable in the past ; with 30,000 people do so every year.
EF_Sean 6 / 3,491  
Jun 16, 2009   #3
You are of course using "mankind" correctly, in what is the first listed sense of the word in just about any dictionary, so I am not sure why anyone would insist you use it only in its secondary sense. (Okay, I know why, but see no reason to encourage such foolishness. And it is foolishness. "Man" meant "person" before it meant "male person," and adopted both meanings over time as a result of the word that originally meant "male person" being dropped from the language. Objections that the term is sexist arise therefore from ignorance of etymologies commingling with a desire take offense.)

Apart from that, Simone's advice is dead on -- you need to avoid overusing the same word too close together or too often:

"A trip across the US from the east coast to California in 1849 took about three months by sea and about 5 months by land. It was a long, difficult and dangerous trip . The same trip now only takes about 6 hours all while sitting in the comfort of sleek airliner."

Either combine sentences or use synonyms to strengthen your writing.
EF_Simone 2 / 1,986  
Jun 16, 2009   #4
You are of course using "mankind" correctly, in what is the first listed sense of the word in just about any dictionary, so I am not sure why anyone would insist you use it only in its secondary sense. (Okay, I know why, but see no reason to encourage such foolishness. And it is foolishness.

The college writing handbook I have right here on my desk specifically prohibits "mankind" as exclusive, rather than inclusive, language.

Whatever your feelings about that might be, Sean, times have changed and so have expectations. Today's students are expected to use gender inclusive language, including the use of "people" or "humankind" rather than "mankind."
Notoman 20 / 419  
Jun 16, 2009   #5
The use of gender-inclusive language, while maintaining flow, is daunting at best. When constructing a sentence, a writer needs to consider his/her purpose to tell the tale he or she (or should it be s/he?) wants to tell. Some style guides allow the use of the third-person plural pronouns "they" and "their" even when talking about a singular subject to avoid naming a gender.

Some words are easier to substitute for gender neutral equivalents than other. Coed can easily become student, members of Congress can stand in for Congressmen, flight attendant for stewardess, and police officer for policeman. But do we really want to talk about how "Four score and seven years ago our parents brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all people are created equal." Let forefathers, mankind, and freshmen stand unmolested (and keep women instead of "womyn"). It would be silly to talk about a World War II infantryman as an "infantry person" or even a "combat engineer." When Armstrong said, "That's one small step for a man and one giant leap for mankind," he really did mean "a man" and the use of "mankind" was not intended to disclude the female gender or anyone who had not yet been through puberty.

Ahhhhh, but language is tricky. And a student must write for his (her, his/her their, its) intended audience. If the school or the professor uses a writing handbook that says to use humankind (or even human/womynkind) over mankind, that is what the student must do.

On a tangent . . . do other languages have the issue of gender inclusiveness? I know that in Spanish, all words are either masculine or feminine and that the masculine pronouns always take precedence when there is even one masculine item in the group. Are the writing structures of other languages reflecting the move toward gender-inclusive language?
Mustafa1991 8 / 373 4  
Jun 16, 2009   #6

few quick errors:

-factor* 1st line
-from
"modern life" cut modern
-"a decisively improved over the earlier less technological eras" You shortchanged yourself saying "in making modern life"... now what can you say? If you are amenable to the second bullet point, it will be easy to revise this.

-You cannot speak for mankind on happiness. Cut it from the second line.
-"mankind has been at any other point in history" Than ever before, would suffice.
-"The combination of advances in technology" This is probably incorrect; combination implies an assortment of things, and if it's not wrong, it could definitely be replaced with a more accurate word.
EF_Sean 6 / 3,491  
Jun 16, 2009   #7
The college writing handbook I have right here on my desk specifically prohibits "mankind" as exclusive, rather than inclusive, language.

Then you have a poor handbook in front of you, written by the sort of people whose advice in such matters should generally be ignored.

Whatever your feelings about that might be, Sean, times have changed and so have expectations. Today's students are expected to use gender inclusive language, including the use of "people" or "humankind" rather than "mankind."

Not entirely, or the student wouldn't have used the term, nor I defended it. Most dictionaries do not yet accept the distinction you or your handbook makes. Nor do people who know how the language evolved. As I pointed out, mankind is gender inclusive. It always has been, and was long before "man" also began to be used as a gender specific term. I suspect that, like most forms of political correctness, this is a linguistic change that will never wholly catch on, beyond certain ideological pockets of society.

On a tangent . . . do other languages have the issue of gender inclusiveness?

Not really. That sort of nonsense is possible in English, largely because gender has already mostly disappeared (it used to be a gendered language, too). As a result, English speakers can think that having a masculine noun for the species is sexist. They are still wrong, but at least it makes a certain amount of sense, if you don't know the history of the language. In a gendered language (which includes most of the Romance and Germanic languages), this sort of thing doesn't gain traction, because it is obvious that gendered nouns have nothing to do with actual gender in the real world. The issue in English occurs therefore out of ignorance, as I said before, and the sensibilities of ignorant people should not concern any writer who is not specifically writing for an ignorant audience. As you point out though, some university-level writing will fall into this category, and then one must bow to the dictates of political correctness.
EF_Simone 2 / 1,986  
Jun 16, 2009   #8
The handbook I am using is the one created and required by a major U.S. university. Again, Sean, your political antipathy to gender neutral language ought not inflect the advice you give here. Whether you like it or not, students who use exclusive language will not be seen as favorably as those who do.

(Okay, I know why, but see no reason to encourage such foolishness. And it is foolishness. "Man" meant "person" before it meant "male person," and adopted both meanings over time as a result of the word that originally meant "male person" being dropped from the language. Objections that the term is sexist arise therefore from ignorance of etymologies commingling with a desire take offense.)

Right, scores of feminist scholars in numerous fields who have demonstrated the role of language in the maintenance of gender inequality are merely "foolish." Silly women.

I'll not debate this with you any longer. Students should know that this is a decided issue within academia in all fields. Agree or disagree, you must learn to use non-sexist language in college compositions, research papers, and other scholarly writing in any field.


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