Essay 2 : please read all instructions

ESSAY 2: Surfwise

Taking a Position

 Here is the prompt that you will respond to:

Did Doc and Juliette Paskowitz fulfill their parental responsibility to educate their children and prepare them for adult life?

 You will take a position one way or the other — you must take a yes or no position — and explain clearly your reason for taking this position. The essay will be a minimum of 1200 words in length. You will use one research source, which I have given you, and the essay will contain a Works Cited page at the end. The Works Cited page does not count in the total word count for length.

 What the essay must do and contain:

  • AN OPENING PARAGRAPH THAT DOES NOT MENTION OR REFER TO THE FILM OR THE FAMILY IN ANY WAY, and that directly introduces some important issue you will raise in the essay, as we practiced in Essay 2. 
  • A thesis statement: a single sentence that states clearly both the position you are taking on the question and your reason for taking that position. Please underline the thesis.
  • A clear objective explanation of who the Paskowitzes are, what choices they made regarding education, and why they made those choices.
  •  The research source I gave you, properly incorporated into the essay and cited at the end in proper MLA format on a WORKS CITED page (SEE BELOW, “RESEARCH AND WORKS CITED”).
  •  You do not have to cite your references to the film in the text when you refer to it.
  •  One specific real-world experience that demonstrates or proves why you hold the position you have taken. This must be something that happened to you, or that you observed or know about personally. It should not come from a research source.
  • A concluding paragraph.




SURFWISE Essay Structure:

The essay should be a fairly simple structure, following the instructions. Here is what it should look like:

1. Introductory paragraph, following the instructions (1 paragraph).

2. Brief objective description of the Paskowitzes: the film, who they are, and what choice they made about education that is the issue we are discussing. This should not contain anything about your opinion on or position about what they did — just objective description, as we practiced in Essay 2. (Not more than 1 paragraph).

3. Brief objective explanation of why Doc and Juliette made the educational choices for their kids that they made. This also should not contain anything about whether you agree or not — just explanation of why they made the choices. Use what you see and hear, and what you can infer, from the film (Not more than 1 paragraph).

4. Your thesis, giving your position on the question I ask in the instructions, and the reason(s) for that position. Then, discussion and explanation of your position. This section should be where you use and cite the research source (the Navah Paskowitz interview article) and the “personal experience” that I ask for in the instructions (between 2-4 paragraphs).

5. Conclusion paragraph that wraps up the essay. A reader should be able to read the conclusion and understand what the issue was, and what your position was on it (1 paragraph).

6. Works Cited, at the end, containing MLA-format citations for the film and the research source in alphabetical order. Use the citations I provided on Canvas. Do not use any other sources besides the film and the Navah Paskowitz article. to an external site.

This link goes to the complete film Surfwise. While watching the film, focus on the question of education — did the Paskowitzes’ choices about education count as fulfilling their parental responsibilities to educate their kids? Why did they make these choices?


This film is a documentary about an unusual family. It contains some R-rated language, some of which involves sexuality. All of it is relevant to the film, and not gratuitous. In addition, there is a very brief discussion of parental corporal punishment. If for any reason you feel you will be unable to view this film because of the language, contact me as soon as possible to arrange an alternate assignment.

USE THIS ONE: Proper MLA-Format Citation for the Film.

Here is exactly how the MLA-format citation for the film should look (be sure this is the citation you use in your essay’s works-cited page):

Surfwise. Dir. Doug Pray. Magnolia Pictures, 2008. DVD.


1. Title first, in italics – it should be this way every time the title appears anywhere in your essay;

2. You can add the “performers'” names if you have a reason to, but it is not necessary, nor is it necessary to add the names of anyone else besides the director. “Director” is abbreviated;

3. Some sources list the film as being released in 2007. The year 2008 is correct.

4. If you have “Film” instead of “DVD” at the end, that is okay.


6. Production company ca be found easily. It is at the beginning of the film. Check also IMDB or Wikipedia.


This is the correct MLA-format citation for the Navah Paskowitz article I directed you to find. Please compare yours to this one. Please read the explanation below before you copy this and use it:

Ghert-Zand, Renee. “Navah Paskowitz-Walther: The Jewish Mother of Surfing’s First Family.” The Sisterhood, 6 May 2010, Forward, 

[Note: all lines of a citation after the first one should be indented. I cannot format that properly here. It’s called a “hanging indent” and I posted a video showing how to do it here.]

Everything that is in italics in my version must be in italics in your version. If you copy/paste it may not transfer format, so you must check this.

Ghert-Zand, Renee. Author’s name, last name first, then period.

“Navah Paskowitz-Walther: The Jewish Mother of Surfing’s First Family.” Article title is in quotes, no italics, then period.

The Sisterhood, Name of blog/section, in italics, then comma.

6 May 2010, Date in MLA date format, then comma.

Forward, Title of website in italics, then comma, then URL address.


The reason the date comes in between The Sisterhood and Forward is because that makes it less confusing — it’s easier to tell that you have two separate titles there, instead of one title The Sisterhood Forward.

If you’d like an explanation of why you need the title of the blog in there, email me. I don’t want to confuse things here.


“My dad was so affected by the horror of the Holocaust, that it was a daily reminder in our home,” (Paskowitz, Navah in Ghert-Zand 2010).

According to Navah Paskowitz, “My dad was so affected by the horror of the Holocaust, that it was a daily reminder in our home,” (in Ghert-Zand 2010).

“[I]t is hard to believe that, as a child, she lived a peripatetic existence in a 24-foot camper” (Ghert-Zand 2010).

“She, with the full support and participation of her husband of German-Quaker background (whom Doc ironically and affectionately refers to as ‘The most Jewish son I have’), is making sure that her daughter and three sons receive the serious Jewish education she never had” (Ghert-Zand 2010).

*Look at this last one, above. Notice that what Doc actually says is in single quotation marks, not normal double ones. That’s because it is a quote within a quote

Doing In-Text Citations for Essay 2

“In-Text” citations are the citations you put within the text of your essay to indicate that the ideas or words come from an outside source. A reader sees an in-text citation and knows:

  • It is material from a source, not your ideas or words;
  • Where to look in the Works Cited for the source citation so readers can find it on their own.

With Essay 2, you do not need to cite material coming directly from the film Surfwise. You do need to cite material coming from the Forward article.

Check what material you are using. If it is from the article and by the article’s author, Renee Ghert-Zand, it will look like this:

She and her brothers were estranged from their father (Ghert-Zand).

If it is a quote of something Navah is saying in the article, it looks like this:

Navah says, “I would never change the experiences we had” (in Ghert-Zand).

The difference is whether you have “in” before the name.

So: if you are using what the author says, don’t use “in”; if you are using what Navah says in the article, use “in.” The “in” should be in italics.

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