Prompt #10 from June 2006

Think carefully about the issue presented in the following excerpt and the assignment below.

It is rare to find an objective and independent viewpoint on style, literature, politics, or any other matter. Many people's opinions are formed through their associations with others. It is our nature to conform; conformity is a force that few can successfully resist. We give in to the human instinct to go along with the crowd and to have its approval.

~ Adapted from: Mark Twain

Do we tend to accept the opinions of others instead of developing our own independent ideas? Plan and write an essay in which you develop your point of view on this issue. Support your position with reasoning and examples taken from your reading, studies, experience, or observations.

Prompt #9 from June 2006

Think carefully about the issue presented in the following excerpt and the assignment below.

I suspect that like many people who watch their diet, exercise regularly, and check the weather report before leaving the house, I am a little too concerned with controlling what can't be fully controlled. I know I am doing the sensible thing. But I sometimes think that the more reckless among us may have something to teach the rest of us about freedom. Perhaps there is something good about taking chances against our better judgments.

~ Adapted from: Melvin Konner

Is it sometimes better to take risks than to follow a more reasonable course of action? Plan and write an essay in which you develop your point of view on this issue. Support your position with reasoning and examples taken from your reading, studies, experience, or observations.

Prompt #8 from June 2006

Think carefully about the issue presented in the following excerpt and the assignment below.

People are often told to obey the rules. In reality, these rules are not permanent: what is right at a given point in time may be declared wrong at another time and vice versa. The world changes so rapidly that rules are out-of-date almost as soon as they are created. People cannot rely on established guidelines to determine what they should and should not do.

~ Adapted from: Gregory D. Foster

Are established rules too limited to guide people in real-life situations? Plan and write an essay in which you develop your point of view on this issue. Support your position with reasoning and examples taken from your reading, studies, experience, or observations.

Prompt #7 from June 2006

Think carefully about the issue presented in the following excerpt and the assignment below.

We measure our progress as a civilization by what we see as advances in technology, which seem more significant than such concerns as education and the condition of the natural world. Still, I would prefer to be a part of a community that judged itself on the happiness of its members rather than on the development of new technology.

~ Adapted from: Thomas Moore

Does a strong commitment to technological progress cause a society to neglect other values, such as education and the protection of the environment? Plan and write an essay in which you develop your point of view on this issue. Support your position with reasoning and examples taken from your reading, studies, experience, or observations.