Critical Reasoning Question 7-High School Curriculum

The local high school students have been clamoring for the freedom to design their own curricula.  Allowing this would be as disastrous as allowing 3-year-olds to choose their own diets.  These students have neither the maturity nor the experience to equal that of the professional educators now doing the job.

Which of the following statements, if true, would most strengthen the above argument?

A.  High school students have less formal education than those who currently design the curricula.

B.  3-year-olds do not, if left to their own devices, choose healthful diets.

C.  The local high school students are less intelligent than the average teenager.

D.  Individualized curricula are more beneficial to high school students than are the standard curricula, which are rigid and unresponsive to their particular strengths and weaknesses.

E.  The ability to design good curricula develops only after years of familiarity with educational life.

Think you know the answer?

The correct answer is E.

first, we need to understand the structure of the argument.  Here the statement, “Allowing this would be as disastrous as…” clues us into the author’s opinion.  Assumption:  One needs maturity and experience to design curricula.  If the assumption were true, the argument would be strengthened.  Check the answer choices, and look for one that affirms the assumption.  (A) is just a restatement of the evidence; this choice adds no new information.

In (B) the argument made an analogy:  “Allowing students to make their own curricula is as disastrous as letting 3-year-olds choose their own diets.”  If an argument uses an analogy to make a point, it had  better do so effectively.  The better the analogy, the stronger the argument.  This choice does strengthen the argument by showing the analogy to be true.  But the question asks for the best strengthener and a more relevant strengthener may be present.

(C) is a classic faulty comparison choice; it is also out of scope.  The author doesn’t distinguish between local high school students and average teenagers.  Moreover, the focus is on experience and maturity, not intelligence.  (D) shifts the focus of the argument from “who should or should not design curricula” to “what kind of curricula is best.”  Notice the scope change in this choice.  It’s tempting, especially since it brings up an intelligent point about tailoring to individuals, but that’s topic for a different discussion.  The best strengthener is (E), citing the experience needed to design curricula.



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