Teaching Rhetorical Grammar

We have all heard that “The Pen is Mightier than the Sword” according to Shakespeare. I always believed this to be true. Wars do not solve an issue or bring a cause to light, they only cause death and destruction. It is, however, words that bring change, change minds, shine light on ideas, and even conquer countries.

Martin Luther King, Jr. had “a dream” for desegregation and brought about the Civil Rights Movement. Gloria Steinem introduced the women of the 1960’s to the philosophy of feminism. Speeches have elected presidents. And, Hitler was able to take over Germany without ever firing a shot.

Words, and how they are arranged and used are immensely important in rhetoric. As students continue their scholastic career, this concept will become more and more important, especially depending on the career path these students may take after graduation. However, I do not necessarily think this should be taught in Composition 1101.

I admit that I was one of the those that enjoyed diagramming sentences. But, it has been so long since I was in middle school, I can’t remember how to do it now. I wouldn’t expect my students to do this either. What I will be checking for during 1101 are recurring errors; comma use, tense changes, pronoun use, and misused words. I feel that these are what most students do wrong in writing papers. Also, the papers assigned in the initial course are designed to introduce students to not only longer papers, but also different types of essays. Shouldn’t this course be considered kind of like a practice course then?

Composition 1102 and later courses will begin tackling bigger projects such as rhetorical analysis’, research papers, and formal rhetorical arguments. It is these papers that will necessitate the use of the more formal rhetorical grammar. This is and should be where the rules of grammar can be broken. I have cohorts in this group that plan to teach the breaking of the rules. I think this is perfectly fine. They know concepts such as Ebonics that can be taught in place of or addition to American Standard English.

I will not be able to teach these concepts myself,though. I do not use American Standard Grammar while speaking, or even writing dialogue. While I can and probably will overlook some casual use of English, I am not in tune enough with other language practices to teach them to students.

So, in conclusion, I plan to have a kind of refresher on grammar using the textbook we used in PRWR 6000, along with They Say/I Say to give templates in transitions, etc. I will not require the purchase of the rhetorical book because I will using less than the amount which necessitates individual purchase. I will, however, require the students to by TSIS because I think this will continue with them on their academic career. I will also leave it to Willie, Ian, and others to use other language practices in their classes since they will be better adept to encapsulate these lessons.