On Demand Writing for Students: Coaching Yourself for the SAT, ACT, and AP Essays

By Lynette Williamson | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 3
Thinking Inductively, Writing
Deductively

Our brains take in specific information and through induction draw conclusions.

When you were little, you probably put something icky onto your mouth. Whether it was a green strawberry or one of the dog’s chew toys, your powers of induction concluded that those things were not tasty, and, odds are, you never snacked on unripe strawberries or Fido’s rawhide bone again.

Inductive thinking allows us to make connections—to make sense of our world. When we’re trying to persuade someone of our findings, however, we reverse these organic processes and begin with a general premise (e.g., Don’t eat that—it belongs to the dog!). Beginning with a general premise and moving toward specific supporting examples is known as deductive reasoning; it is more sophisticated than induction and relies on artful construction.

Deduction is a complicated and often unnatural procedure for beginning writers. Most young students are apt to simply record their inductive thought processes without giving consideration to converting their ideas into a persuasive, deductively arranged argument. If, for instance, a child in third grade is reading a book and every time the character named “Peter” appears he acts selfishly, the student may inductively arrive at the claim: the character Peter is selfish. When asked to write

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