Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Post for the week of September 3, 2012


Post for the week of September 3, 2012

For those who are now back to school, welcome back!  Best wishes for a great school year!

Argument vs. Persuasion

A lot has been made in the Common Core commentary about the distinction between argument and persuasion.  (<-----Click on the link to get more info.)

I've always been a bit taken back about the press this issue is getting.  I've always taught "argument" using Aristotle's triangle.

ETHOS --- The credibility of the speaker.  Mitt Romney uses an ethical appeal when he says he can fix the economy because he has business experience. 

PATHOS--Emotional appeal.  When the speaker told a touching story about her puppy, the people in the crowd were moved to tears and immediately funded the new animal shelter.

LOGOS--Logical appeal.  Barack Obama used polls and statistics to support his claim that he created new jobs. 

I think the new emphasis on "argument" as logic and not emotions comes from the way teachers have traditionally framed assignments on "argument:" "Write an essay convincing your parents to let you buy a car . . . "  When students use a too familiar audience, they tend to use mostly emotional appeals and not logical ones.

Try changing assignments around.  Write a piece for one audience.  Then change the audience and see what changes you have to make to the appeals.  Convince your parents of something.  Then convince the mayor.  What might you say differently and why?

Instead of ignoring or de-emphasizing emotional appeals, I think we should be teaching a more well-rounded view of argument using more than one type of appeal.  The Common Core and PARCC demand it!

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