Assignment: Choose one of the three following essays to write for your reflection paper.
Papers will be graded on thoroughness and clarity in responding to the essay prompts, as well as the creativity and thoughtfulness of your reflection. One measure of thoroughness is how well you understand and describe key arguments from McKibben’s work. A strong essay must, in each case, make reference to the McKibben book (such as citing particular ideas, pulling out key quotes from the text to illustrate your points). Direct quotations can be cited simply with the author’s name and a page number; no bibliography is needed. If you wish to cite one of the articles or websites linked below, simply use an article title or brief name of the website. The paper should be between 1500-1700 words
On page 97, McKibben talks about floor plans for new suburban houses that seem ideal for “the dysfunctional family,” and for dysfunctional and hyper-individual life, generally (for more, see this: http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB108026272985366025). McKibben’s general description of such houses probably applies to many homes across the country.
Write an essay that reflects upon the type of house in which you grew up. First, summarize McKibben’s complaints in Chapter 3 about the modern suburban house/neighborhood, particularly with reference to the themes of community life, individualism, and energy consumption. Note that his comments about floor plans are fairly brief, so you’ll want to look at the article linked here and above. Next, describe the house in which you spent much of your childhood years (if you grew up in different houses, pick one that is especially memorable). What was the basic floor plan like? In what way did the design of the house facilitate interaction with other family members? What sort of neighborhood was it in? Was there a lot of solitude in the house/neighborhood? Not enough? In thinking about your own house, do you agree with McKibben’s critiques of suburban life, or might he underestimate the importance of privacy and solitude? If you could design your own future house, with family life in mind, what sort of features would you consider most important, and why?
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