A Nation’s Argument

How is a nation argued into being?

A Nation’s Argument integrates historical revolution and nation-forming with the language and logic skills needed to develop and sustain an argument. By focusing on the birth of the United States, and learning the structure and language of argument, students explore the life of the nation as a powerful idea–one which was carefully and logically crafted, yet continues to be challenged and transformed. In doing so, students also deepen their understanding of themselves as citizens as they evaluate the arguments that shape our still evolving national identity.

This course begins with an introduction to the structure of argument and the two main types of logic: induction and deduction. Each Unit will hinge upon close-reading primary sources, Kindred, by Octavia Butler, and supplemental texts from the founding of the nation through the present moment. As we read, write, and think critically about argument and nationhood, we will pursue these Unit Guiding Questions:

  • How is a nation crafted as an argument?
  • What causes a nation to contradict itself?
  • Why does a nation enact change?

Course Units

How is a nation crafted as an argument?

In this Unit, you will learn about the fundamental elements of any argument – premise and conclusion – and study the two main types of reasoning: induction and deduction. We will examine the founding document of the United States – its Declaration of Independence – identifying the premises upon which the nation was constructed and evaluating the strength of the earliest political leaders’ logic, and therefore, of the country itself. For your Unit 1 Action Project, you will demonstrate your understanding of the key concepts of argument by constructing your own Declaration of Independent…Study. Here are the Unit sub-Guiding Questions you will pursue:

  • What is the anatomy of argument?
  • How can logic be inductive or deductive?
  • Why are nations constructed as arguments

How does a nation contradict itself?

In this Unit, you will deepen your investigation into a nation’s argument by confronting its flaws and contradictions. As you have learned, the basic premises of the U.S. Declaration of Independence are ideals that helped shape the identity of the nation and provide standards by which we can measure the strength of the country and its commitment to its core principles. Post-independence history provides an extraordinary record of the strength of the nation’s argument, which we will examine more closely through the U.S. Supreme Court case, Scott v. Sandford. For your Unit 2 Action Project, you will demonstrate your understanding of an argument’s soundness, or strength, by crafting an amendment to the GCE Code of Conduct. Here are the Unit sub-Guiding Questions you will pursue:

  • What tests the strength of an argument?
  • How can a nation’s logic be flawed?
  • Why should a nation’s argument be challenged?

Why does a nation enact change?

In this Unit, you will apply your abilities to identify, analyze and evaluate arguments toward an understanding of how to address the contradictions they might contain. We will continue to track the United States’ evolution from its original argument for nationhood, beyond the internal conflict that nearly tore it apart, to new stages in the development of its founding principles. Our study of “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” in the post-bellum U.S. will lead to an examination of a crucial piece of legislation grounded in these rights – the Civil Rights Act of 1964 – reconstructing an argument that sought to resolve the contradictions of racism and other forms of discrimination within the nation. For your Unit 3 Action Project, you will demonstrate your understanding of the key concepts of argument by crafting a resolution for change combined with a call to action. Here are the Unit sub-Guiding Questions you will pursue:

  • How can contradiction be productive?
  • What does it take to synthesize?
  • Why should an argument evolve?

  • ISS: .5
  • English: .25