1 Goltimi

Essay Country Before Self

A good citizen is one who is a good person. There seems to be no scope for differentiating between the two - for a weak or a bad person cannot be a good citizen and it holds true the other way round also. It is a man's everyday behavior and his everyday virtues which count and contribute to his character. A good citizen is one whose behavior is consistent with the canons of self-respect and social justice and he should be reliable both in peace and war.

The first and foremost quality asked of a good citizen is patriotism. He should have a genuine love for his country and should have a sense of involvement in its day to day affairs, in its economic policies and its international relationships. All this cannot be achieved overnight: it is the product of a good training and a good heritage and various other factors contribute towards patriotic feelings. The first among these is the right kind of upbringing. If a child hears only stories of betrayal and listens to a discussion of the various methods of making easy money, he is unlikely to imbibe any good qualities. The hand that rocks the cradle shapes the world. Honesty, integrity and self-respect are the qualities that can only be nurtured at home. These form the foundation of good citizenship.

A home and a family are a miniature group. If a person gets his values and priorities correct while living in it, he will make a good citizen. A good citizen must put the interest of his country before his own personal interest and he should not enter into any contract which may prove harmful to the interest of his country and he must do his share of the work and share due responsibilities. These are the qualities which add up to strength and character. A good citizen puts his country before self. There are many jobs which if correctly performed add to the national progress. Industries, when expanded properly, become a part of national wealth. They provide opportunities for employment and development. A farmer, a teacher, a soldier each one is important in his own role. He who loves his country puts his heart in his job and does it to the best of his ability. A good citizen stays away from anti-social activities like smuggling and corruption.

It is not only the passive virtue of not being anti-social which is important. but the positive quality of asserting oneself, being fearless enough to point out and face anti-social elements. It is not enough to slink out of their way and say that we are not concerned. Courage is not only physical but also moral: one does not require it only when faced by an enemy or in a moment of crisis but in day to day decisions and activities. Courage is intimately connected with self-respect. A man who is servile and can stoop down to any level will not he brave and will not be honest. A man who has a great deal of self-respect will he courageous in the face of odds.

Another thing which is necessary is good health. There may be circumstances which may be beyond our control; but by and large it is the duty of a good citizen to look after his health. For if a man is healthy. he can bestir himself for others; if he is healthy he can do his duty and can afford to he brave; lie can also save the of many precious man-hours. A healthy mind finds its natural habitat in a healthy body.

Added to all these is the sense of pride a person has in his cultural tradition, the feeling of identification he has with his background. However, this pride should not be allowed to deteriorate into chauvinism. It should be seasoned with the proper degree of humility. No country is too small to be on its own; and no country too big to learn from others. And a country needs its citizens to be free and fearless to make it strong. For as the poet has said:

Not gold but only men can make

A nation good and strong

Men who for truth and honor's sake

Stand fast and suffer long. 

As the government begins its crackdown on essay mill websites, it’s easy to see just how much pressure students are under to get top grades for their coursework these days. But writing a high-scoring paper doesn’t need to be complicated. We spoke to experts to get some simple techniques that will raise your writing game.

Tim Squirrell is a PhD student at the University of Edinburgh, and is teaching for the first time this year. When he was asked to deliver sessions on the art of essay-writing, he decided to publish a comprehensive (and brilliant) blog on the topic, offering wisdom gleaned from turning out two or three essays a week for his own undergraduate degree.

“There is a knack to it,” he says. “It took me until my second or third year at Cambridge to work it out. No one tells you how to put together an argument and push yourself from a 60 to a 70, but once you to get grips with how you’re meant to construct them, it’s simple.”

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Poke holes

The goal of writing any essay is to show that you can think critically about the material at hand (whatever it may be). This means going beyond regurgitating what you’ve read; if you’re just repeating other people’s arguments, you’re never going to trouble the upper end of the marking scale.

“You need to be using your higher cognitive abilities,” says Bryan Greetham, author of the bestselling How to Write Better Essays. “You’re not just showing understanding and recall, but analysing and synthesising ideas from different sources, then critically evaluating them. That’s where the marks lie.”

But what does critical evaluation actually look like? According to Squirrell, it’s simple: you need to “poke holes” in the texts you’re exploring and work out the ways in which “the authors aren’t perfect”.

“That can be an intimidating idea,” he says. “You’re reading something that someone has probably spent their career studying, so how can you, as an undergraduate, critique it?

“The answer is that you’re not going to discover some gaping flaw in Foucault’s History of Sexuality Volume 3, but you are going to be able to say: ‘There are issues with these certain accounts, here is how you might resolve those’. That’s the difference between a 60-something essay and a 70-something essay.”

Critique your own arguments

Once you’ve cast a critical eye over the texts, you should turn it back on your own arguments. This may feel like going against the grain of what you’ve learned about writing academic essays, but it’s the key to drawing out developed points.

“We’re taught at an early age to present both sides of the argument,” Squirrell continues. “Then you get to university and you’re told to present one side of the argument and sustain it throughout the piece. But that’s not quite it: you need to figure out what the strongest objections to your own argument would be. Write them and try to respond to them, so you become aware of flaws in your reasoning. Every argument has its limits and if you can try and explore those, the markers will often reward that.”

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Fine, use Wikipedia then

The use of Wikipedia for research is a controversial topic among academics, with many advising their students to stay away from the site altogether.

“I genuinely disagree,” says Squirrell. “Those on the other side say that you can’t know who has written it, what they had in mind, what their biases are. But if you’re just trying to get a handle on a subject, or you want to find a scattering of secondary sources, it can be quite useful. I would only recommend it as either a primer or a last resort, but it does have its place.”

Focus your reading

Reading lists can be a hindrance as well as a help. They should be your first port of call for guidance, but they aren’t to-do lists. A book may be listed, but that doesn’t mean you need to absorb the whole thing.

Squirrell advises reading the introduction and conclusion and a relevant chapter but no more. “Otherwise you won’t actually get anything out of it because you’re trying to plough your way through a 300-page monograph,” he says.

You also need to store the information you’re gathering in a helpful, systematic way. Bryan Greetham recommends a digital update of his old-school “project box” approach.

“I have a box to catch all of those small things – a figure, a quotation, something interesting someone says – I’ll write them down and put them in the box so I don’t lose them. Then when I come to write, I have all of my material.”

There are a plenty of online offerings to help with this, such as the project management app Scrivener and referencing tool Zotero, and, for the procrastinators, there are productivity programmes like Self Control, which allow users to block certain websites from their computers for a set period.

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Look beyond the reading list

“This is comparatively easy to do,” says Squirrell. “Look at the citations used in the text, put them in Google Scholar, read the abstracts and decide whether they’re worth reading. Then you can look on Google Scholar at other papers that have cited the work you’re writing about – some of those will be useful. But quality matters more than quantity.”

And finally, the introduction

The old trick of dealing with your introduction last is common knowledge, but it seems few have really mastered the art of writing an effective opener.

“Introductions are the easiest things in the world to get right and nobody does it properly,” Squirrel says. “It should be ‘Here is the argument I am going to make, I am going to substantiate this with three or four strands of argumentation, drawing upon these theorists, who say these things, and I will conclude with some thoughts on this area and how it might clarify our understanding of this phenomenon.’ You should be able to encapsulate it in 100 words or so. That’s literally it.”

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