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Skills for Rhetoric: The Art of Good Thinking and Good Talking

Skills for RhetoricRhetoric is the art of effective speaking or writing, especially using figures of speech and other compositional techniques to inform, persuade, or motivate a particular audience in a specific situation. Skills for rhetoric revolve around the effectiveness of language including its emotional impact (pathos), its logical content (logos), and its credibility (ethos). A basic premise for rhetoric is that how one says something conveys meaning as much as what one says. Think of the words used by the great writers, preachers, and statesmen throughout history to instruct, inspire, and influence.

Along with grammar and logic, rhetoric is one of the three ancient arts of discourse. Aristotle is generally credited with developing the foundation of rhetoric. Classical Greek rhetoricans taught the art of public speaking to their fellow citizens, and later, to the children of wealthy Romans. The Apostle Paul was trained in Greek literature and rhetoric, probably at Tarsus, which was a major university town. He used his rhetorical skills to boldly address the Athenians on Mars Hill. In the Preface to Paradise Lost, C.S. Lewis wrote that the use of rhetoric to shape the emotions “is lawful and necessary because, as Aristotle points out, intellect of itself ‘moves nothing’: the transition from thinking to doing, in nearly all men at nearly all moments, needs to be assisted.”

From Ancient Greece to the late 19th century, rhetoric was a central part of Western education. Since then, it would seem that the dumbing down of the school system has resulted in rhetoric virtually becoming a lost art. Nowadays, persuasive writing and argumentative speech is mostly limited to English papers, literary criticism, and debate classes. While in the public arena, impassioned speakers often resort to name-calling and insults rather than intelligent discourse. Training in rhetorical skills will set students apart with distinguished written and oral abilities, and may help us to regain some of the intellectual and spiritual high ground in a deteriorating culture.

Skills for Rhetoric by Dr. James Stobaugh

This 34-week course helps high school students develop the skills necessary to communicate more powerfully through writing and to articulate their thoughts clearly.

The Skills for Rhetoric Student Text will help students:

  • Develop creative writing skills including descriptive writing, poetry, and short stories.
  • Cultivate the use of expository writing including research papers, analytical essays, problem-solution writing, and firsthand accounts.
  • Learn the art of public speaking, including persuasive speeches, informative speeches, debates, and more.
  • 8 1/2 x 11, 299 pages, paperback

This course includes basic grammar and writing composition, the writing of numerous academic essays, several public speaking presentations, and an extensive research paper. It counts for one credit of writing and one credit of speech.

Comprehensive and reasonably priced, this course is a good choice for college-bound students. The author says it’s for junior high grades 7-9, but unless they’re really advanced, we’d recommend it for senior high grades 9-12 instead. The curriculum is suitable for use by individual homeschoolers, small homeschool co-ops, and private schools.

This is a Christian-based course. Dr. Stobaugh weaves biblical concepts, readings, and applications throughout the curriculum. He wants this course to be not just an English class, but also a means to help equip students to stand firm in their faith and be prepared to actively participate in apologetics.

The Skills for Rhetoric Teacher Guide provides:

  • An instruction guide
  • Daily concept builders
  • Weekly essay questions and tests
  • Loose-leaf, three-hole punched 8 1/2 x 11, 160 pages
Please note that the above product was NOT provided for free or at a discount in exchange for a review. This item was purchased by a homeschooling family at their own expense.

What types of activities and courses have you used as electives? Leave a comment and we may include yours in a future column!

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