Addiction: Tolerance and Withdrawal
My Advanced English students recently handed in their final essays on a topic labeled "My Addiction."
Early this semester, we had read in our textbook a short article on addiction and learned that two key elements of genuine addiction are "tolerance" and "withdrawal." The article explained these quite clearly -- the former being the tendency over time to need more and more of a substance or behavior to obtain the same satisfaction and the latter being the painful physical and emotional symptoms associated with cessation of a substance or behavior.
This final essay was the second rewrite of the assignment. For their first essay, I had asked students to write on their 'addiction' -- prior to reading the article. The results were predictable. Most students called their habit an "addiction." We then read the article and learned the crucial elements "tolerance" and "withdrawal," and I asked the students to rewrite their essays with a definition paragraph in the body of the essay to clarify what an addiction is. Though not all students did so, most complied, but then failed to apply the two elements to their own 'addiction' to determine whether it was truly an addiction, or not.
I therefore had them rewrite again, telling them clearly what to do. I also warned them against using dictionary definitions and exhorted them to stick to the book's explanation. Most students complied, but a few didn't, including one clueless student who had previously included no definition paragraph and who then proceded to write the following explanation for the tolerance and withdrawal characteristic of an addiction:
If people rely on something, symptoms of tolerance and withdrawal begin to show. Tolerance has the meaning that 'tolerance is the practice of permitting a thing of which one disapproves, such as social, ethnic, sexual, or religious practices' in the dictionary. And it is causes that people are even more dependent on. This is the starting point in the addiction. Withdrawal has the meaning that 'A withdrawal may be undertaken as part of a general retreat, to consolidate forces, to occupy ground that is more easily defended, or to lead the enemy into an ambush.' When people ban dependent, this result(withdrawal) appears. And it is causes that make difficult to stop addiction.I wrote above that this student was "clueless," and that judgment may have seemed harsh, but readers can now see that I wrote accurately. I had warned students that anyone who didn't include a definition paragraph using the textbook's explanation would get zero out of ten points, but I gave the student a 5.5 since the terms "tolerance" and "withdrawal" were used more or less correctly when this same student went of to discuss an addiction to a smart phone.
But how one can know the terms well enough to use them with roughly the correct meaning, yet define them formally using entirely different definitions lifted from a dictionary, entails a blindness to intellectual insight that I'll never comprehend!
At least, the essay offered an amusing diversion after dozens of similar definitions . . .