Literature

Persuasion is Power– Understanding Rhetoric

I recently went to one of my favorite clothing stores to pick out a new dress for my friend’s wedding that is coming up, and me being who I am, I have to make sure that I have the perfect outfit for this specific occasion. When I go to Maurices, I’m usually the one you see taking a few dresses, a couple nice shirts, four or five pairs of pants and maybe a pair of shoes to the dressing room.

I firmly believe in taking as many items as you want into the dressing room–you don’t have to buy all the items you take in, but you can sure try them on for free!

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After trying on outfit after outfit, I just could not decide what to wear, and if you have never been to Maurices, here are two things that you should know;

  1. You need to go and check it out
  2. The people who work there are very…persuasive.

If you have been to Maurices you will know that it didn’t take long for an associate to come and help me. I couldn’t decide what dress to buy, and I had narrowed my choices down to two. The associate, who was very nice, agreed that I had a tough decision to make, but that she liked both dresses. I explained to her my budget and how much I wanted to spend, and her response to me was something like this;

“Don’t worry, buying both dresses will keep you under your budget with this coupon that you have with you.”

Here is another thing you should also know about Maurices

       3. Always bring coupons.

As you can guess, I bought both dresses….and two shirts…and a new pair of shorts. When I got someone else’s opinion on how I looked when I was wearing these items, I was able to make a decision that benefited both the store and myself.

Sadly, my wallet was the only one who suffered.

DCF 1.0 My experience shopping at Maurices is a mild example of what the Greeks, Romans, and even the Americans in todays generation fear when talking about rhetoric. Starting all the way during the time of the Ancient Greece until now, rhetoric has been viewed as powerful, useful, necessary and dangerous. Rhetoric, defined by the Merriam-Webster online dictionary, has two definitions:

  1. : language that is intended to influence people and that may not be honest or reasonable
  2. : the art or skill of speaking or writing formally and effectively especially as a way to persuade or influence people

For the longest time, creating a persuasive argument, written or orally delivered was considered a highly desired skill. Even today, despite that there is time dedicated to studying language and grammar in the school systems, most students refer to public speaking, or being a good writer as a skill or talent. One of the first things that I have come to understand about learning language, proper grammar, and being able to create good quality writing involves much more than just skill or talent in the area. Being a good writer, understanding your language and being able to be a “persuader” involves exposure and practice; exposure to the content, and practice, practice, practice.

Like the Greeks who first held this belief, I agree that rhetoric has a large influence of one’s education. From the first couple of weeks in my Theory and Practice of Teaching Writing course, there are a few things that I have learned about writing, language, and rhetoric; CourtGavel

  • The power of public speaking has a large influence on the individual and the society that the individual is a part of.
  • Rhetoric can be both beneficial and dangerous—on one hand it can create an intelligent individual who fights for justice, or it can result in a one who fights for power instead of justice. THE COURTS —->
  • Knowing ones language, the rules of that language (grammar), and understanding rhetoric allows you to develop a deeper understanding of all other areas of study.

Above all of these things that I have learned in the best couple of weeks, I have grasped a better understanding of how rhetoric can shape the individual and a society. This has become one of the biggest things that I have discovered about rhetoric. Referring back to my shopping experience; I didn’t have to buy two dresses or anything at all for that matter. What was the deciding factor for my final purchases at the store results in several things (I really liked both of the dresses), but I probably would not have bought both if the associate who was helping told me that I looked good in both of the items. In other words, the associate told me what I wanted to hear so that I would get two nice dresses, and she would make money for her company.

TGreek philosophershis is how the art of persuasion works. What the Greeks hope to achieve was to have citizens who would deliver persuasive speeches that seek justice and explore moral truth, yet they soon discovered that sometimes that was not the case. Along with teaching language, grammar, public speaking and all other elements that come into educating others about rhetoric, there seems to be this necessary demand for teaching a values system among our students. The question is, how can we do that without causing problems, following state standards, and creating highly literate students?

With hopes of becoming a future elementary teacher, I want my students to not just be familiar with their language and the grammar involved, but to have the rules embedded in their deepest pools of knowledge and long term memory.  I think that the more our students practice getting to know their language, the better they will understand it. Plus, I need to prepare my students for the literature they will read in high school, and how will they be able to read and grow from the literature they read if they do not understand the history of their own language?

At the same time, teachers need to be more creative with the assignments that they are giving students. The typical written book report or essay is not something that promotes writing. Giving students options about how they learn and understand the content only enhances their ability to remember and store that new information in their minds.

Here are a few ideas that I want to use in my classroom;

  • Writing note books
  • Personal journals
  • Personalized Grammar resource book, hand made
  • Memorization games- tests grammar
  • Both oral and written exercises
  • Grammar puzzles and flash cards

Teach your students about rhetoric, about language, about writing and make them see why it is important. Having students who are know how to create a persuasive argument is rewarding to the teacher, unless of course you shop at Maurices and your students work there.

Final tip for your next shopping trip to Maurices:

4. Do not go into Maurices if your students work there and understand rhetoric.

 

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Another Productive Class Discussion; What Elements are Making Teen Books Popular

Today I spent 3 hours, yes 3 total hours, with a group of lovely young ladies discussing more Young Adult Literature. We spent most of the afternoon discussing elements that are explored in a variety of different texts in YA literature, and we found so many elements the students are wanting to read about and explore.

If your a teacher, looking to build your reading list for next year, what types of books are you wanting your students to explore? What themes? What plots? When thinking about your next reading list, I would like to present some of the elements that my class and I came up with.

Here are just some elements that we explored:

  • Drug use
  • Sexuality
  • Suicide
  • Depression
  • Parenting/Pregnancy
  • Racism
  • Transition Years
  • Abondonment
  • Illness/Death
  • Tragedy
  • Emotional, Physical, Mental Abuse
  • Alcoholism
  • Identity crisis
  • Popularity/personal appearance

Class 3/25

How many  different types of books can you find that address all of these issues? The truth is, teenagers are looking for books that keep their interest, that change their perspectives and challenge their beliefs and thoughts. Students do not like to read books that are repetitive in theme or message; students need diverse literature that broadens their way of thinking and opens their minds to a new world that they have never seen before.

Short blog, but just in case you are looking for some books to fill your syllabus, check for the books that target these elements!

A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness–A MUST READ novel!

From the time I was able to read independently, I have read many books in my lifetime. Most of those books I do not remember, others have stuck with my to this day. I want to be a teacher because I love to learn, and by learning, I read. I read a variety of books, and for my adolescent literature class, I am starting to read out of my comfort zone. I think that is is safe to say that I have finally found my perfect genre. A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness is now on my list of unforgettable, awesome, tear-jerking, heart stopping, favorite books of all time.

To sum up, this book made me speechless.

"A Monster Calls" by Patrick NessI was totally able to relate to Connor in this story. Connor is a young boy who keeps experiencing the same nightmare every night; his mother eventually falls from his grasp off of a cliff. Why does he keep having this same dream? And why has the yew tree that is outside his house come time to life to tell him three mysterious tales? This book is an amazing tale of how a young boy is able to heal from the fact that his mother has terminal cancer, and how he is able to heal. At the end, Connor is a different young boy than he was before. With the help of the magical Yew tree (the monster), he conquers his fear, and learns that if he loves his mother, he must let her go. What happens at the end is a punch in the gut, but it awakens the reader to reality about life and death, and how we can cope with both.

This was an amazing story. Please read this book.

The Girl Effect

For my adolescent literature class we are required to read a book titled “Kids of Kabul” by Deborah Ellis. I recently just finished this novel, and I could NOT stop thinking about The Girl Effect.

Hold up, what is The Girl Effect?

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To answer your question, The Girl Effect is a theory based on Education, and how Education can enhance the life of females around the world. Ellis’s book focuses children in Kabul, a small/city in the country of Afghanistan. Along with the ongoing war that has taken its toll on the citizens of Afghanistan, the children are the ones who suffer the most. Lack of education, schools, teachers, and health care result in numerous fatalities, unwanted pregnancies, forced marriages, children serving as soldiers, and those who do manage to survive and leave Afghanistan are illiterate in all senses of the word. Image

The Girl Effect is a theory that the more educated a female (or even a male) can be, the better quality of life they will have. Education is truly the key in saving a child’s life, and preventing horrible things from happening to them. I think that Ellis’s book “Kids of Kabul” demonstrates the power of the girl effect simply by telling the story of kids who had received some sort of education. A little bit of knowledge can go a long way.

I swear by the power of The Girl Effect.

Here is a link to view a video about the girl effect…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1e8xgF0JtVg

Here is a website link dedicated to the girl effect

http://www.girleffect.org/

5 Month Challenge; A list of goals for my Adolescent Literature Class

So in class today, my professor asked us to write about some goals that we have for my Adolescent Literature Class. I. Was. Stumped. Since I am already crazy about books, and how I read almost every waking minute, how could I possibly make time to read more?

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Protected by CC

I am really glad that my professor asked me to do this because when I started thinking about it after class, I was able to reflect on some of the types of books that I like. Sadly, I must admit that I need

to leave my comfort zone, and come out into the book world, taking my reading shoes with me.

Here are some goals that I would like to accomplish in the next 5 months;

1. Read 10 Non-Fiction books that relate to children or young adult.

This was my first goal for two reasons; 1. I prefer to read fictional books (obvious) and 2. I want to be that teacher that understands today’s students along with some of the bad things that can happen to them.

2. Inspire others to read my favorite book.

More details to come.

3. Read two professional development books this semester.

This goal is based more towards myself for professional growth. This does not have anything in common with adolescent literature, but I figured that its now or never with these types of books.

4. Complete 30-40 books in the next 5 months.

Could be a challenging goal, but then again could be easy. Almost done with book #3.

I also had some goals about blogging. I want to become a great blogger and develop a very professional web profile about myself and my teaching philosophies. I want employers to be able to say; “hey, this girl knows what she is talking about, lets hire her!” I doubt that it would be that simple, but I think it’s a pretty good start!

“Romeo, how I despise thee…” A summary of Donald Gallo’s article, “How Classics Create an Aliterate Society.”

For my Adolescent Literature class, we were asked to read a short article by Donald Gallo titled “How Classics Create an Aliterate Society.” My first overall impression of this reading was; interested. As a future Elementary Teacher, I understand the importance of children being able to go to the library, and pick up a book to read. In my personal opinion, there are more factors that contribute to an aliterate society, but what Gallo talks about in his article brings up some interesting thoughts that I had never thought of before. Before you have graduated high school, it is SO important to have read at least one classical novel; it could have been Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juilet (been there, done that, wasn’t the best), or it could have been the popular selection by Jane Austen Pride and Prejudice. High school professors stress the importance of reading these classical tales because they feel the need to stress the importance of classic literature.

Based on the article, and what Gallo was saying, I feel that he makes some excellent points about how reading those novels results in young teenagers or adults not having a desire to read. Gallo points out that most young adults who are forced to read that kind of material aren’t “ready” to get the full benefit of the text. I agree completely with that statement. Teachers have this knowledge of every single student in their class; some students have the maturity level necessary to understand classic novels, others are not quite there yet. What does this mean for our schools?

I recall an assignment I did when I was a junior in high school; we had to pick a classic novel of our choosing (the titles and authors were on a list we could pick from) and we had to dissect the novel to find its true meaning. The boys in my class hated it! They were so bored and confused with the way that the text was written that they resulted to spark-notes to complete the assignment. If you look at it from Gallo’s point of view, who could blame them? Granted, yes they were my dear friends who are not really mature at that point in their life, but it proves Gallo’s point. They didn’t understand the text, thus they never received the full benefit of the novel. They were so bored and uninterested in literature until they got into college where they had to read. I firmly believe that reading is a choice; those who want to read will, and those who don’t like to read, choose not to.

So the question lies; what do we do? How do we promote children to keep on reading after one bad reading experience? People are going to read good books, and they are going to read bad books. How do we promote students in our classroom to keep on reading after those horrible experiences? The biggest thing that I think Teachers should recognize is that not every student is going to be a “Literate Freak” like myself. Some students are going to like the classics, others won’t. Those who don’t like to read need to be inspired to read new things and try different genres. That is where the teacher comes in. The teacher needs to provide the students, both who love and hate to read, with variety with choice, and above all, lead by example. At the younger grades, do the same thing. Get kids interested in different genres, find out what your students like. I do not think that the classics should be forgotten, but I think that students need to view them as part of their choice; they can choose to read classics, comparing the writing to 21st century literature, or they can choose something else. Reading a good book, and looking at the world in a completely different way is more important the trying to decipher what the Classics mean.