On Writing in a Classroom:
Rhetoric, or the rhetorical moves an author uses to convey or argue a message, are the pinnacle of a middle school writing classroom.
In a classroom, it goes something like this: teacher asks student to explain or argue a position, student constructs a thesis, develops key points, pulls evidence from a text to support the position, and makes connections between the evidence, the key points, and the thesis.
A student who understands the nuances of persuasion recognizes the opposing argument, either discrediting it or arguing it’s invalid. The most persuasive student invokes the rhetorical triangle composed of three appeals to human sensibilities, as devised by Aristotle. This particularly adept middle school student knows how to pull at the reader’s emotional compass with pathos, using anecdotes that display the macro point at a micro level. These students know how to invoke logos, or credible facts and statistics to solidify the foundation of the argument. These students know how to use ethos to question the audience’s values, to tap into the morals of the readers. The rhetoric of the argument is the foundation that holds up the thesis, if and only if, said twelve-year-old was able to construct a valid argument. The ability to construct an argument is contingent on strong reading comprehension, engagement with the articles, vocabulary, and understanding of specificity in language and ideology, and pure syntactic writing ability.
Then, there is the secondary role of grammar. A teacher’s attention is instantly diverted by the mélange of proper nouns left in the world of lower case with all the other commoners, u as texting speak, and commas resting as comma splices.