SAT Essay - Should we pay more attention to people who are older and more experienced than we are?
May 2009 - SAT Essay Prompt
Think carefully about the issue presented in the following excerpt and the assignment below.
There are good reasons to pay attention to people who are older or more experienced than we are, even if their opinions on important issues are very different from ours. Of course, not every person older than us is worth learning from, while many young people are. But if the only people we listen to are our age and are likely to see things the same way we do, we will miss out on something important.
Should we pay more attention to people who are older and more experienced than we are? Plan and write an essay in which you develop your point of view on this issue. Support your position with reasoning and examples taken from your reading, studies, experience, or observations.
Sample student SAT essay for the prompt “Should we pay more attention to people who are older and more experienced than we are?”
Our age worships youth. We yearn for beauty of youth. We encourage toddlers and teens to be individualistic and award them with full manhood. We hype 18 years old as our pop icon. We vote 40 years old into Presidency. But in retrospect, we think of the past just as much we think of the future. We respect culture and even dig into history for wisdom and guide for future actions. To maximize our own future benefits we have no choice but to pay attention and learn from the older and more experienced. Students know this. Scholars know this. Even genius recognizes this and learns from the giants before them.
Alexander Pope, one of the greatest English poets, professed to have learned his poetry from Dryden, whom, whenever an opportunity was presented, he praised through his whole life with unvaried liberality. Early in his youth Pope distinguished the versification of Dryden, which he considered as the model to be studied, and was impressed with such veneration for his instructor that he even persuaded some friends to take him to the coffeehouse which Dryden frequented, and pleased himself with having seen him. And in his Essay of Criticism, he proclaimed –
A little Learning is a dang'rous Thing;
Drink deep, or taste not the Pierian Spring:
There shallow Draughts intoxicate the Brain,
And drinking largely sobers us again.
Fir'd at first Sight with what the Muse imparts,
In fearless Youth we tempt the Heights of Arts,
While from the bounded Level of our Mind,
Short Views we take, nor see the lengths behind,
But more advanc'd, behold with strange Surprize
New, distant Scenes of endless Science rise!
So pleas'd at first, the towering Alps we try,
Mount o'er the Vales, and seem to tread the Sky;
Th' Eternal Snows appear already past,
And the first Clouds and Mountains seem the last:
But those attain'd, we tremble to survey
The growing Labours of the lengthen'd Way,
Th' increasing Prospect tires our wandering Eyes,
Hills peep o'er Hills, and Alps on Alps arise!
(note – here it is perfectly ok to cite the whole stanza of the poem if student could remember, a style in itself that carries not only uniqueness of a SAT essay but power and feel.)
And we know who are the towering Hills and Alps, and we know the lengthened way he is walking.
But most of all, Pope learned from the past giants, Greeks and Romans, and Homer probably the most. In fact when he was only about eight he was placed in Hampshire under Taverner, a Romish priest, who, by a method very rarely practised, taught him the Greek and Latin rudiments together. He was now first regularly initiated in poetry by the perusal of Ogylby's Homer; of Sandys he declared, in his notes to the Iliad, that English poetry owed much of its present beauty to his translations. Pope had been fascinated by Homer since childhood. In 1713, he announced his plans to publish a translation of the Iliad. The work would be available by subscription, with one volume appearing every year over the course of six years. Pope secured a revolutionary deal with the publisher Bernard Lintot, which brought him two hundred guineas a volume, a vast sum at the time. His translation of the Iliad appeared between 1715 and 1720. It was acclaimed by Samuel Johnson as "a performance which no age or nation could hope to equal". And here are some lines of this testimony of the greatness today he is most remembered for –
"At length the monarch, with repentant grief,
Confess'd the gods, and god-descended chief;
His daughter gave, the stranger to detain,
With half the honours of his ample reign:
The Lycians grant a chosen space of ground,
With woods, with vineyards, and with harvests crown'd.
There long the chief his happy lot possess'd,
With two brave sons and one fair daughter bless'd;
(Fair e'en in heavenly eyes: her fruitful love
Crown'd with Sarpedon's birth the embrace of Jove;)
But when at last, distracted in his mind,
Forsook by heaven, forsaking humankind,
Wide o'er the Aleian field he chose to stray,
A long, forlorn, uncomfortable way!
Woes heap'd on woes consumed his wasted heart:
His beauteous daughter fell by Phoebe's dart;
His eldest born by raging Mars was slain,
In combat on the Solymaean plain.
Hippolochus survived: from him I came,
The honour'd author of my birth and name;
By his decree I sought the Trojan town;
By his instructions learn to win renown,
To stand the first in worth as in command,
To add new honours to my native land,
Before my eyes my mighty sires to place,
And emulate the glories of our race."
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