Rhetoric in the Classroom: What I teach (Part 2)

Hello readers!

Today’s post is part 2 of my series on the importance of teaching rhetoric in the classroom. Today’s post will explain what I have taught my students about rhetoric as well as some suggestions about how to teach these things.

Here is a list of what I taught my 10th grade honors students:

  • The definition of rhetoric: the art or study of using language effectively and persuasively.
  • The rhetorical triangle:Screen Shot 2016-03-01 at 2.43.29 PM
  • The rhetorical (Aristotelian) appeals
    • Ethos: (essentially) credibility/trust, morality
    • Pathos: (essentially) emotional appeals
    • Logos: (essentially) facts, statistics, citations from experts

For any teachers planning to teach rhetoric to their students, I have some suggestions. First, I recommend having them write down the rhetorical triangle and going over it multiple times. The rhetorical triangle may seem simple, but the relationship between these three parts is complex and must be explained thoroughly. Furthermore, when you Google “rhetorical triangle,” an incorrect triangle with “ethos,” “pathos,” and “logos” comes up, and although I went over the triangle every class in my rhetoric unit, and I told students to write it down, I still had students who must have Googled it the night before the quiz, because they mislabeled the triangle. Second, I would give students a helpful way to remember ethos and pathos. I remember when I first learned ethos and pathos, I kept reversing them (because I would think of emotions and ethos). A useful way to remember this is ethos refers to ego and pathos refers to passion. This helped me as a student, and I think it has helped some of my students also. Finally, have students use rhetoric. Don’t just ask them to do a rhetorical analysis of someone else’s writing (which, don’t get my wrong, you should do!), but also have them write while considering these aspects of rhetoric. The more ways students can engage with these concepts, the more likely they are to remember them!

What do you think readers? Have you ever taught these concepts to your students? How did you do so? Let me know in the comments!


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