The following appeared in a letter to the editor of a local newspaper.
"Too much emphasis is placed on the development of reading skills in elementary school. Many students who are discouraged by the lonely activity of reading turn away from schoolwork merely because they are poor readers. But books recorded on audiocassette tape provide an important alternative for students at this crucial stage in their education, one the school board should not reject merely because of the expense involved. After all, many studies attest to the value of allowing students to hear books read aloud; there is even evidence that students whose parents read to them are even more likely to become able readers. Thus, hearing books on tape can only make students more eager to read and to learn. Therefore, the school board should encourage schools to buy books on tape and to use them in elementary education."
In this argument, the writer claims that elementary schools place too much emphasis on the development of reading skills; therefore books on audiocassette should be provided as an alternative method of learning. The arguer attempts to substantiate the conclusion by citing studies that show the value of allowing students to hear books read aloud; including evidence that students whose parents read to them are even more likely to become better readers. This argument ultimately fails as it suffers from several critical fallacies.
First of all, the writer flatly states, without any supporting evidence whatsoever, that many students are discouraged by the "lonely" activity of reading, then continues on in the same sentence to state that students turn away from schoolwork solely because they are poor readers. Students often read to themselves or to the other students in a classroom situation - hardly a lonely activity. Additionally, this argument puts the effect before the cause - inviting the circular logic that students stop trying to learn to read because they are poor readers. Following this argument to its logical conclusion, because they are poor readers, they should not try to learn how to improve their reading. This absurd argument is analogous to saying that a new student should never start to learn in the first place, because he or she knows nothing.
Secondly, the writer cites as evidence in favor of the use of audiocassettes the idea that students whose parents read to them are even more likely to become proficient readers. It is at best doubtful that this provides proof that listening to someone read a book stimulates a young mind to learn to read better. It is far more likely that the child gains an interest in learning to read from the parents themselves, not the physical act of having something read to them. In this situation, the parent is showing the child his or her ability to read, which the child will naturally want to emulate. Furthermore, it is likely that a parent that spends time reading to a child is likely to be a much more encouraging parent, particularly when it comes to that child's education.
Thirdly, the writer fails to convince in his argument that hearing books on audiocassette makes a child more eager to read and to learn. The author cites many studies that show value in allowing students to hear books read aloud - he or she does not state that the studies show whether that value manifests itself as better reading skills or simply better listening skills, which seems more likely than any improvement in reading ability.
Finally, the author fails to take into consideration that merely listening to books on audiocassette fails to provide the visual stimulation necessary to develop higher level reading skills. It is more likely that hearing a book on audiocassette would discourage that student from ever reading that particular book on his or her own. Elementary schools are the main developing grounds for a student's reading abilities- there is no substitute for actively learning to actually see the writing and comprehend what it is trying to say. Listening skills can be developed through means other than by hearing books on audiocassette. Reading skills are an absolutely irreplaceable and fundamental part of an elementary student's education.
In conclusion, the writer's argument fails to address several weak areas that lead to a rejection of the overall conclusion that the school board should encourage schools to buy books on tape for use in elementary education. To strengthen the argument, direct cause and effect evidence should be set forth that shows better overall learning without any loss in the development of higher level reading skills for students.
首先，作者言之凿凿地、且在毫无任何佐证性证据的情况下陈述道，许多学生对"孤独的"阅读行为望而却步，接着在同一个句子中继续陈述道，学生会仅仅因为阅读能力差而无心投入到学业之中。学生常常会在课堂氛围中自己默读或者朗读给其他学生听，这就很难将阅读说成是一种"孤独的"活动。此外，该论点将因果倒置--诉诸于循环论证式逻辑推理 --学生们因为阅读技能差而不愿努力去学习阅读。按此论据得出的逻辑结论便是：因为他们阅读能力差，他们就不必作任何努力去学习如何来提高其阅读能力。这一荒谬的论述仿佛就像是在说，一个新生永远没有必要开始学习任何东西，因为这位新生一无所知。 其次，作者援引了某一理念作为证据，用来为盒式录音磁带的使用进行辩护，这一理念便是，当一个学生有父母对他进行朗读时，他便更有可能成为一个精于阅读的人。如果将这视为证据，说明听他人朗读一本书便能刺激一颗年幼的心灵去学习如何具有更强的阅读能力，这充其量也是十分令人怀疑的。更有可能的是，孩子从父母身上所获得的是一种去学习阅读的兴趣，而非由他人对他们进行朗读这一具体行为本身。在此情形中，父母所做的是向孩子表明他或她的阅读能力，孩子自然愿意模仿这一能力。再者，一位花时间来给孩子进行朗读的父亲或母亲更有可能是一个教子有方的人，尤其是在涉及到孩子教育这一方面。 第三，作者在其论述中没能让我们相信在盒式录音磁带上听书能使孩子更加渴望去阅读和学习。作者援引了多项研究，以期证明让学生听人大声朗读书本这一做法的价值。但这位作者并没能说清楚，这些研究所表明的价值是否呈现为更强的阅读技能，或者只是呈现为更强的听力技能，而这一技能似乎比任何阅读能力方面的提高来得更有可能。 最后需要指出的是，作者没有考虑到这样一个因素，即纯粹在盒式录音带上听书是无法提供培养较高层次阅读技能所必需的视觉刺激的。情况更有可能是，在盒式录音带上听某一本书会打消该学生自己去阅读那本特定的书的积极性。小学教育是发展孩子阅读能力的主要阶段，没有任何东西可以来替代积极的学习行为，亲眼去看所写的内容并去理解字里行间所要表达的内容。要发展听力技能，并不必定需要借助在盒式录音带上听书这一手段。阅读技能是小学生教育中绝对无可替代的和最基本的部分。