You’re sitting in class, and let’s face it, your mind is wandering a little bit. But then your instructor says that your next assignment is to write a Rogerian essay.
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Confusion strikes. You immediately sit up in your seat, hoping for some sort of elaboration on how to write a Rogerian essay, or at least an explanation of what it is. Unfortunately, your instructor is moving on without clarification.
You wonder if you should raise your hand and ask, “wait, what is a Rogerian essay?” But you don’t, thinking maybe you’re the only one who doesn’t know what to do. You don’t want to look stupid.
Don’t worry. You’re not stupid.
The term “Rogerian essay” can throw off a lot of people. It turns out it’s really pretty simple once you know the basics. Ready to jump in?
So… What Is a Rogerian Essay?
By now, you have probably written a lot of different types of essays, and you may have even written a Rogerian essay without even realizing it.
The Rogerian essay is named for the type of argument it makes–the Rogerian argument named after psychologist Carl Rogers. He believed that the key to effective communication lies in each side’s ability to negotiate differences in order to better understand each other.
Basically, a Rogerian essay is the diplomatic version of an argumentative essay. I’m sure you’ve had real-life arguments where you can’t just change your opposition’s point of view, right? In those cases, you look for common ground from both arguments so that each side can reach some sort of consensus.
You’re not looking for total domination, but instead for some kind of benefit to both sides.
How to Write a Rogerian Essay
In the spirit of the Rogerian essay, I’m going to use my favorite Roger as an example–Roger Rabbit, of course.
Photo by theNerdPatrol via flickr
For the purposes of this example, I’ll be exploring one of the main topics of Who Framed Roger Rabbit–integrating cartoon characters with the general population–to give a basic framework for your Rogerian essay.
The introduction to your Rogerian essay requires four main parts–a hook, the problem, some background information about the problem, and your thesis statement.
Your hook is a sentence or two that draws the reader in and makes them interested in reading the rest of your essay. This can be a quote, surprising fact, rhetorical question, or any other attention grabber. The problem is the issue that two sides disagree over, followed by the background information about that problem. The thesis statementwill let the reader know your proposed solution.
My introduction might go something like this:
Do cartoons deserve the same rights as humans?Some people don’t think so, and they argue against the integration of toons and humans.While opponents may think that cartoon characters belong on the screen, other people want them to be able to roam freely within our own world.While segregating toons and humans is wrong, there should be certain enforced rules for behavior when the two groups are together.
Now that we have our introduction taken care of, it’s time to get into the meat of the essay–the body. As opposed to the traditional 5-paragraph essay, which has three main points as the body paragraphs, the Rogerian essay focuses on trying to work out the main arguments of each side.
The first body paragraph should focus on one side of the argument, and the second paragraph should focus on the other side. It doesn’t matter which side you write about first, but I like to focus on the opposition’s side first and then my own views.
For our example, my first body paragraph would read:
The opposition to the integration of toons and people has several points of concern, but many of these concerns boil down to a sense of fairness and public safety. For example, toons can unfairly manipulate their bodies and surroundings to slip out of handcuffs. Since the cartoons are more resilient, they are less able to grasp the concept of human mortality, and thus, they are more prone to dropping pianos or anvils on passers-by without a second thought.
My second paragraph would discuss how it would be unfair to eternally separate toons and humans, and would touch on the fact that cartoon characters deserve some kinds of basic rights–access to the free world being one of them.
The third body paragraph should link the two opposing arguments together, trying to build on some common ground.
My third paragraph would look like this:
While those opposed to the integration of toons and humans site safety as their main concern, those in favor are equally worried about public safety. However, just because something is unsafe does not mean it has to be completely banned from society. The benefits of integrating cartoons into the rest of society, such as the opportunity to learn about different cultures and the elimination of grudges toons have about being separated, would far outweigh the potential risks. This is especially true if certain laws were created to monitor the behavior of both toons and people.
The conclusion explains your proposed solution. This should transition smoothly from your final body paragraph. Your conclusion should also end with a closing statement about why you think this solution benefits both sides, giving your Rogerian essay a sense of closure.
Here’s how my conclusion would look:
Stricter enforcement of behavioral laws for both cartoons and humans would be the best solution. These laws would set up a committee of both classes that would decide the best and most fair rules for all citizens. Toons-only districts could still be set up for cartoons who wanted to let loose, but when interacting with people, they would have to tone it down. Humans, too, would have to follow certain rules, mainly pertaining to harassment of cartoons. These laws would be enforced by both cartoon and human police officers. This new set of rules would calm the fears of integration opposers while ensuring more rights and more harmonious living among cartoons and humans.
How to Write a Rogerian Essay: Quick Tips to Keep in Mind
Don’t Be Combative
When you’re thinking about how to write a Rogerian essay, don’t fall into the trap of being too one-sided. You want to be more of a neutral mediator instead of a writer on the attack.
Think Like the Devil’s Advocate
In order to be neutral, you first have to get into the head of your opposition. Even if you feel very strongly about something and that your view is the right one, the other side probably has some good points, too.
Don’t Forget about Common Ground
Forgetting about the common ground is a mistake that will turn your Rogerian essay into a straight-up argumentative essay. Even if the views are radically different, think about the underlying sentiments of those views. You can usually find something in common between two sides of an argument, but you might have to get a little creative in the process.
Additional Sources for How to Write a Rogerian Essay
If you’re still looking for help with your Rogerian essay, there are several places you can turn to. Writing Commons has a wealth of resources for almost any kind of writing you can imagine. College and university websites such as Oklahoma City Community College and the University of Calgary have several writing resources available to anyone who can navigate the internet.
And, of course, the Kibin editors can help sort through your Rogerian essay draft, making sure that everything flows well.
Psst... 98% of Kibin users report better grades! Get inspiration from over 500,000 example essays.
How to Write a Rogerian Argument
- Know your audience well. Or better yet, know the opposing argument(s) well. A knowledge of both your audience and the opposing point will help you a lot in formulating the arguments you want to push through in the end. But before that...
- You should be able to determine the "common ground" between you and your audience. One way to do this is to outline your main points and compare it with the main points that you anticipate your audience, reader, or instructor to have. Remove opposing ideas from the list until you arrive at the meeting points between the two. But if you can't find common grounds among the main points you have listed...
- Try to make an extended list of all the possible premises. The list should include the minor or sub-premises and its more minor points. For example, the major premise "poetry is an art" should further be divided into smaller premises or supporting ideas such as "poetry is an art because it requires mastery of words" or "poetry is an art because it requires the poet to go beyond immediate sensory experience" and other related supporting ideas.
- Now that you know the proposition that you and your audience or reader share, use that shared belief to start you essay. That way, you'll be able to attract the attention of your audience without having to argue while introducing the topic. Be sure to use words that you know your audience can easily relate to and absorb. The task is to come into terms with your audience first and foremost.
- Right after establishing the "common grounds," continue by slowly integrating your position. Remember to avoid engaging your audience into a disagreement yet. Simply try to make a brief introduction of your position in one or two short but concise sentences. After that...
- You should now integrate your supporting arguments for your main position. This can be done by immediately placing your evidences after you have stated your main point. Take note that you should not write down supporting arguments that negate the position of your audience in an obvious way. For instance, avoid using "it is not true that poetry is not an art." Rather, it would be better for you to provide remarks which support your position that "poetry is an art." A good example is for you to write "poetry is like painting because the poet has to weave words together that are colorful" instead.
- The next step is for you to point out the obvious conflicting arguments between you and your audience. After recognizing the conflict of arguments, persuade your audience that your position is more valid or more sound by telling your audience why their position or argument is weak. Point specifically to the arguments rebutting yours which have weak evidences or which lack supporting arguments. This is the part where you should expect your audience or your reader to either accept or reject your position. If your position is accepted, good job. If not...
- Try to reiterate the "common grounds," but this time merge it with the evidences you have as to why your position is acceptable, or outweighs the other position.
- Finally, conclude your essay, or argumentation, with a short summary of your position and a brief reminder of those "common grounds."
How to write a good Rogerian argument essentially depends on your ability to "locate and isolate" the beliefs that you share with your audience. You have to remember that you should not immediately introduce your position as this will disrupt your attempt to bridge your audience towards you and your arguments. The key is to identify those "common grounds" and capitalize on it to your best advantage without having to abandon your arguments altogether.
You may also want to read some Rogerian Argument topics.
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