We use rhetoric every day without even realizing it. Correctly using rhetoric on a specific group of people can drastically increase an arguments’ strength. Benjamin R. Barber wrote an article conveying his research on the failing school systems in the U. S titled America Skips School published in Harper’s Magazine. Barber uses rhetorical elements like ethos, pathos, and logos to build his argument. He establishes his credibility and then emotionally connects with his audience and explains who and what is to blame for the lack of quality education in America.
Once he establishes a solid connection using these rhetorical techniques he effectively inspires the audience to change their ways and raise concern for the education system and construe the weaknesses at hand. Barber’s use of ethos is almost unintentional in the extrinsic sense. The sole fact that his article was published in Harper’s Magazine builds him enough credibility for people to be willing to read it. It is hard to say much else about his extrinsic ethos besides that he is an accomplished writer and a well-known political scientist. The fact that Barber was allowed to publish his article in this magazine frames his credibility.
The publisher here does most of the work when it comes down to the extrinsic ethos since the magazine is one for subscribers and not just something that’d randomly get picked up by just anyone. Barber may seem to be slacking on this end of the rhetoric but there isn’t much else someone could do in this situation. Barber’s ethos thus far may...
not be enough to cut it for some skeptics. However, his intrinsic ethos works marvelously to his advantage. Barber credits himself by his claims from the studies he had conducted and research he has done. “My sample of forty-seven-year-olds scored very well on the test.
Not surprisingly, so did their seventeen-year-old children… The results of the test reveal again the deep hypocrisy that runs through our lamentations about education” (Barber 460). This displays his intrinsic ethos in that he becomes more credible because he himself has spent the time to research the subject opposed to just going with what he has read. This demonstrates his dedication to the validity of his facts. Another reason he appears trustworthy is that he quotes credible sources in his article like the Department of Education Statistics and the DOE.
Barber’s research and studies make him a much more reliable source of information and truly add to his compelling argument. Barber makes use of intrinsic ethos in ways other than his research and studies. His style of writing in this particular article adequately connects with his intended audience. The way he relates to them, as being part of the problem himself. Where he constantly repeats the term “we…” when talking about the American people being responsible for the failing school system. He doesn’t point the finger while holding the gun; he reveals that he too, like all of his readers, are part of the problem.
Putting his self to blame makes the reader more comfortable and to read; contra scolding
someone and putting them down. Barber also utilizes intelligent writing by making his point clear and concise and avoids beating around the bush. But he also draws on vivid language to remind readers of his level of education in order to amplify his trustworthiness. Barber’s appeal and style of language assists him in affectively sharing his opinion. Barber utilizes other techniques to persuade his audience in agreeing with his personal views.
One of the various tactics he uses is inductive reasoning by means of logos. In the beginning of his article Barber claims “…more than 3,000 youngsters will drop out today and every day for the rest of the school year, until about 600,000 are lost by June…” (Barber 457). This quote illustrates how American children have less desire to learn and are fundamentally decreasing the knowledge of the nation as a whole. The audience understands that these astonishing facts reveal that, at this rate, the average American child is destined for poverty and will attain no successful future.
This allows the audience to “take it all in” and get a true understanding of the education system. Barber goes on to suggest that the government regulates its spending barely keeping education in mind. He states “… their government spending up to $35,000 a year to keep a young black behind bars but a fraction of that to keep him in school, they will write off school” (Barber 461). This captivates the audience because they determine that the government that is supposedly ran by the people, is doing everything but help its people.
This articular portion helps appeal considerably to the liberal readers because of their strong attitudes on more government spending for public works, such as schools. It may also intrigue those who are strongly patriotic. This may elude them to blame themselves for allowing the government to regulate spending in this way when we, the people, should be deciding as a country; what is important to spend government funding on. They may argue that the only reason that there are so many criminals in the first place is because of dropouts and lowlifes who lacked an education.
This would lead the activists to band together in order to demand the government to attack the problem at its source and raise educational funding. Barber continues to demonstrate logos through use of deduction. He mentions our conception of values in society to help prove his point. He explains, “If they see a man with a rubber arm and an empty head who can throw a ball at 95 miles per hour pulling down millions of dollars a year while a dedicated primary school teacher is getting crumbs, they will avoid careers in teaching even if they can’t make the major leagues” (Barber 461).
To any reasonable reader, this concept is absolutely undeniable; kids put more value into baseball players and other entertainers than any teacher. And so, growing up, kids try to aspire to be one of the great athletes they watch on television and begin to subconsciously believe that if teaching were important, then it
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