During persuasive writing pieces authors try to make you see their point of view as valid. Often times during this process, their writing is compromised by the errors they make to prove their point. David Thomas makes many errors in his essay “The Mind of a Man.” In his thesis he tries to prove that women are not smarter than men as previously believed, but instead that they just excel at different tasks. However, throughout his whole essay, he describes that boys are discouraged by female teachers and does not stick to his thesis. He showed a biased point of view that he supported with only anecdotal evidence and studies that contained no numbers or statistics. Also, his use of emotion in his essay showed his anger towards others views that contradicted his.
David Thomas takes a biased point of view in his essay. Throughout many parts of the essay he describes the stereotypes about boys, stating their difficulty to learn properly as a result of these stereotypes by often using anecdotal evidence. He describes the lower grades boys were getting than girls on the GCSE exams and makes the assumption, “The introduction of course work into the GCSE syllabus appears to favor girls, who tend to be diligent and less rebellious,” which has not been proven, or could not be backed up by any sort of statistical or factual information from studies. He makes this statement assuming that the reason must be that girls receive higher grades because the test favored them. He does not take into the consideration that maybe the boys just didn’t do as well for a number of other reasons that has nothing to do with the way the tests were designed.
In the essay, he continues to show his biased point of view by quoting Tony Mooney, a secondary school headmaster, who reinforces his point saying boys are less advanced than girls because women teachers favor girls and do not reinforce boys because of their “aggressive” and “boisterous” behavior. Thomas adds this quote that has no factual evidence, it is the opinion of a school headmaster, who surely cannot be present everyday in every single class to know everything that’s going on. Thomas quotes Mooney’s son, who showed a difference in his marks when taught by a woman, “Because the men teachers never shout at me as much as the woman teachers” is another form of anecdotal evidence. This is the feeling of one little boy who cannot be compared to society as a whole (222).
Thomas continues to try and prove his point by adding studies without any statistics in them and in turn makes many contradictions to things previously mentioned in his essay. He includes a study done at the University of California in which 72 boys and 60 girls at kindergarten level learned how to read with a machine. When tested, the girls scores were less than the boys scores. Then, when they went back to normal instruction by women teachers, they were tested again later and the boys scored less than the girls.
As interesting as these results may be, they do not contain numbers to show how large the difference actually was. The difference could be minimal which could be due to a number of reasons. So, the fact that no statistical evidence was included with the study did not prove to be that convincing (223). Also, in the beginning of the essay, he states that women have been proven to be better at verbal tasks, which would explain the reason why they didn’t do as well with the machines as the teachers. So he contradicts himself entering this study by previously showing why a girl might have done better on these tests (221).
Thomas uses a lot of emotion in his essay to prove his point, specifically when he talks about the quote he used from Christine Cosker who seemed to disprove one of his earlier quotes by Mooney. She said, “If girls achieve higher standards than boys, it is not the result of sympathetic female teachers: it is that boys fail to be motivated because of their attitude to women. Boy’s early experience is almost entirely one of a society which regards women’s traditional roles as trivial, dull and second-rate and dismisses their opinions. If girls have a positive role model in the female teacher, they will do better than boys. But if boys, unencumbered by society’s prejudices, valued their female teachers, then their progress would match that of girls”(223). Obviously Cosker felt strongly about her point and proved an alternative explanation to Mooneys as well as Thomas’ theory of female teachers being the cause of the boys lower grades. Thomas uses sarcasm as well to make his anger known.
In reaction to her letter, he states “Heaven forbid that they [boys] should be given any consideration or compassion. Heaven forbid that the prejudices of the new age should be challenged. If you ever doubted that feminists have taken over from apoplectic old colonels as the great reactionaries of society, just read this letter”(224). If you read between the lines of his sarcasm, you begin to see just what he is implying. He is implying that she didn’t give boys any compassion or consideration when she was simply stating that if the boys learned to appreciate their teachers more and see them as more of a role model it would work towards their advantage. He continues to attack her different point of view by stating them as a “feminists” point of view. In his efforts to try to make people take his side and believe his thoughts he just discredits himself because instead of embracing the possibility of other causes he simply knocks them down and states that they are just plain and simply wrong.
Thomas’ body paragraphs and conclusion were not connected substantially to the main point of his essay. In his thesis, he used a quote from Dr. John Nicholson saying that the IQ scores from men and women were “indistinguishable” (221), and the only difference is that they were just better at different sort of tasks. Meanwhile, his whole entire essay attacked the fact that female teachers don’t support the boys and that caused their lower grades. So the information he provided did not support his thesis.
Also he ends the conclusion with a strange statement that seem to signify a new thesis. His concluding sentence, “When Yoda sat on his rock in The Empire Strikes Back and told Luke Skywalker that he had to choose between the dark force and the light, he knew what he was talking about” (225), seemed to make little sense and had nothing to do with his essay. In writing his essay, he should’ve considered his audience and that some people who did not see the movie would not understand what he was implying, besides that statement seemed more like an opening line rather than a concluding one.
In order for authors to make you see their point of view as valid, they sometimes compromise the strength of their information. David Thomas did many things to compromise his credibility in his essay “The Mind of a Man.” In Thomas’ essay he had a biased view that he supported with anecdotal evidence. He used studies with no real number or statistics to verify them. His use of emotion in his essay showed his anger towards others views that contradicted his. Also, his body paragraphs and conclusion didn’t seem to be connected to the initial thesis he stated.