Rhetoric has been one of those topics I have never felt very comfortable with, for as long as I can remember. It just intimidates me and gives me anxiety! Perhaps it’s because I never fully understood the term, or that it is associated with thoughts bigger than what my brain could comprehend in the past. The readings for this week’s discussion do help eliminate some of that anxiety, but I was still feeling lost. During our class discussion, it was easy for me to see that most of my peers feel comfortable with the term, and few are intimidated like me.
When I took my first college level writing course, I assumed I would get an A because I did in high school. In high school, I was taught the basics. Paragraph structure, syntax, grammar, mechanics, spelling, etc. But I wasn’t taught to synthesize. I wasn’t taught to analyze. Or, maybe I was, but it didn’t get through to me. This is something I want to change for future incoming freshman, should I become an instructor. I want to bridge that gap and not make students feel intimidated when we discuss topics like rhetoric. Incorporating the meaning behind ethos, logos, and pathos into class discussion and exercises have always helped me better understand the topic – had I learned about it earlier in my education maybe I wouldn’t feel so intimidated?
After our class discussion, I realized something… even though I hear the word and feel my mind is about to explode… I use the practice nearly every day without a second thought. It’s the word that, to me, carries the negative connotation.
This gives me hope, as a future teacher. I am learning the tools to use while teaching students (ideally high school or college level) to not think negatively about the Greek words we’re assumed to understand. Teaching rhetoric can tie the shoes, but in order to do that, we need the laces and the shoes themselves. That would be the process of all the elements I mentioned earlier, wrapped into one. Rhetoric can just tie them all together. Maybe if I was taught this way, I wouldn’t feel so intimidated? What kind of exercises could be incorporated in class discussion to take away the assumption that students comprehend what rhetoric really is, and instill the knowledge they need to succeed in a college level English/writing course?