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Class Supplement, TOEFL Essay, Stability or change? -partly rewritten-

2011年12月22日

☆Writing Topic
There are some people who like adventure and new experiences. They are not afraid to take risks, and they enjoy change in their lives. Other people prefer stable and predictable lifestyles. They do not often change their habits, and they value safety. Compare these two approaches to life. Which approach do you prefer? Explain why.

☆Let’s think
This writing topic has three parts: premises, a direction, and a question.
♦Premises: Introduction of two types of approaches to life: adventurous or safety-oriented.
♦The direction: You are required to deal with both types and compare them.
♦The question: The question is about your “preference” not “objective judgment.” Therefore, you can be subjective as well as objective when you make your choice.

In reality, the life of an individual is usually a mixture of both approaches. You try to protect what you have already got while there are times you want change. Thus, you might well be tempted to write, “I cannot say which I prefer.” To be sure, to not choose and to explain why you do not is a way to answer a choice question, although the essay may become predictable; it is like explaining why you cannot choose when asked your choice between a pet dog and a wild bird as your reincarnation. In this case, the topic can be interpreted as a question about your way of life, your philosophy. Therefore, committing either might make your essay more interesting. Think of a critical choice like one between going overseas to further your study and accepting a job that you liked a lot when you tried it as an intern. Which would you chose? The reason for the choice would help you answer this question.

☆Hints for points
♦Adventurous approach to life: varieties of experiences, can meet many different kinds of people, strong interest in new things, life full of excitement and surprise, introduce new things into society, make an unexpected discovery, flexible, liberal, more tolerant to different ideas and tastes, progressive, often misunderstood by others full of danger and loss, “A rolling stone gathers no moss.”
♦Safety-oriented approach to life: safe and peaceful life, satisfied with what they have and want to protect it, can know one thing/person really well, cautious of uncertainty, skeptical of new and strange things, can miss opportunities, old-fashioned, can be considered boring, cannot adapt to inevitable changes, You cannot say that you are really living if you keep avoiding new things: “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.” (Neale Donald Walsch)
♦Decisive reason for your preference: way of life (offensive / defensive), character (active / passive), role model (family member, the person you admire, famous people)

☆One-paragraph essay
Now let’s write a one-paragraph essay so that you can use it as the framework of your full essay:
【Main Idea = Outline】

【Adventurous approach to life】

【Safety-oriented approach to life】

【Your preference】

【Conclusion = Wrap-up】

☆Essay for ideas and expressions
It is true that some people have a more positive attitude toward change and anticipation of danger than others, who put more effort into maintaining what they already have. I think both are reasonable approaches to life, but I consider myself more on the side of the former because I cannot help trying something new by nature.

Adventurous people face changes like a child spotting a new ride in an amusement park. They want to get the most out of life and feel that staying the same is the end of life. They are usually very interesting and have the strength and grace of a person who has dared to take risks. They often bring about change to society. Entrepreneurs, explorers and probably the first humans who used fire are people of this type. They contribute to evolution and revolution.

People who stick to their habits and value safety and stability can avoid big mistakes and embarrassment. They never gamble and lose money. They never stand out and become a target of bullying. These people are keenly aware of the negative effects of changes and human weakness―well-intentioned new attempts often go awry like the failure of communism in Russia. Their priority is to protect what has been proved secure and beneficial. They help retain culture and tradition.

Of course there are drawbacks in both approaches to life. Adventurous people often face great dangers and losses like bankruptcy or death, while safety-oriented people tend to lose opportunities, for luck and fun are often in the new and strange. In either case, whether you feel that you are really alive with the approach or not might count, and it seems to depend on personalities. Some find true joy of life in peaceful and warm everyday life, others feel alive only when facing something new and extraordinary.

As for me, changes and adventure make me feel alive. I become full of energy and enthusiasm when changes come to my life and repetition makes me start thinking about something else. A new job always makes me focused and when I have established the routine of the work, I cannot stand following it and before I know I alter some part of it. I enjoy seeing more and more foreigners coming into my country just because they are people I am not familiar with, and I am all for new ideas and systems if I find them fundamentally good. In fact, if I could, I would keep traveling or working for new projects of good causes and might forget to come home.

Nothing stays the same forever. The essence of life is change. Then appreciating changes, rather than resisting or just accepting them, would help make life more enjoyable. If you take one step further and risk your life in something for a good purpose, no matter how tiny an experiment it might be, I think you will go through a meaningful moment of life.

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