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For each issue, the editor provides a concise introduction and postscript summary. The introduction sets the stage for the debate as it is argued in the "yes" and "no" readings. The postscript briefly reviews the opposing opinions and suggests additional readings on the controversial issue under discussion.
By requiring students to analyze contradictory positions and reach considered judgments, Taking Sides actively develops students' critical thinking skills. It is this development of critical thinking skills that is the ultimate purpose of each of the volumes in the widely acclaimed Taking Sides program.
Posted January 17, 2011
I had to buy this book for a Media/Society class I was taking at my college, and I thought the premise of the book sounded very interesting. It presents a plethora of questions (such as "Are Harry Potter Books Harmful to Children?", "Do Copyright Laws Protect Intellectual Properties?", "Should the Public Support Freedom of the Press?" and many others), along with two articles for each- One article that answers "Yes" to the question and one that answers "No." The Yes/No arguments are collected and compiled from various authors and researchers.
This book should have been fascinating to read, and fun to research. But it was held back by some serious flaws with the argument articles used.
The articles used almost always fall into three categories, which stop them from actually being informative...
(1)-They are oftentimes very long-winded, and tend to drone on and on, to the point of losing focus. At least twice I encountered articles that spent 10-15 pages addressing everything BUT the question at hand, and only devoted about 1-3 paragraphs to discussing the question.
(2)-Some of the questions present articles that are clearly not adequate for comparison. (Ex. The "Yes" article will be clear, concise, informative, fact-based and compelling, whereas the "No" article would be poorly structured, have juvenile writing, and have no factual information. And vice-versa.)
(3)-And some of the articles don't address the question at all, beyond a vague relation to the overall topic. (Ex. An article for the question "Does the Media Represent a Realistic Portrayal of Arabs?", while the "No" article was clear and used examples of how poorly Arab people have been generalized/portrayed in movies/television/news programs, the "Yes" article just talks about the growing popularity of blogging in Arab countries, with no adressing the question at all.)
In addition, I had other problems with this book. I felt that some of the articles chosen were also a little pretentious in how they were written (example, where a simple 5-word sentence would work, the author will write a full paragraph filled with more extravagant synonyms and unneccesarilly big words, just to sound smarter), and I felt that a large amount of editing work should have been performed on the articles, as the above mentioned loss of focus happened very frequently.
I was very dissapointed by this book. It had a good concept, but it was fouled-up and the articles used were mixed-to-poor.