Rhetoric in the Classroom (Part 1)

Hello readers! Sorry for the lack of posts last week; student teaching has been keeping me very (happily) busy as of late.

I am kicking off a new series on the blog about the importance of teaching rhetoric in the classroom. In this series, I will describe not only why it is important to teach rhetoric to our high school students, but I will also share different resources and activities that you can use with your students.

So why do I think it is important to teach rhetoric? Well…

My pedagogy is greatly influenced by rhetoric. I view every communication as an argument, as persuasive, and therefore, I believe these persuasive techniques should be taught to and understood by our students. Students need to learn to be conscious communicators, particularly because their communication can be so easily published online today. With the increased usage of technology, students need to be aware of their own rhetoric, ensuring responsibly and critical communication with others. Understanding the responsibility they must have for the communication they partake in, students will have a better understanding of the power their communication can hold, and they will better understand how to use that power.

Because digital tools that our students are using allow them to publicly publish their communication, they must be taught how to responsibly do so. In teaching rhetoric, we teach our students to think carefully not only about their role as authors, taking personal responsibility for what they say and write, but also to carefully think about the purpose for their communication for their particular audience. By teaching our students to carefully consider the rhetorical techniques and the rhetorical triangle of their writing, they can be more thoughtful and cautious in their public writing.

In addition, rhetoric provides an effective literacy tool with digital resources (also print). By teaching our students to critically consider the author, audience, purpose, and persuasive techniques of a piece of writing, they can more critically and thoroughly engage with digital sources. This is particularly important because it gives students a more tangible way to determine whether a source is appropriate or not, crucial in the digital age when, as I’ve said, anyone can publish anything.

Teaching rhetoric to our students gives them the power to be more effective writers and readers, but also more engaged and responsible members of our global community.

Have you ever taught rhetoric to your students? Let me know in the comments below!



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