The following pages offer a few ideas for using rhetoric as a critical thinking tool. I loosely define rhetoric as a body of techniques used to grab attention, manipulate emotions, and sneakily win arguments when you are backed into a corner. Ultimately, rhetoric provides a means to magnify your cause. It can be used for good or evil. I encourage students to use if for good.
1. A vocabulary of rhetorical techniques is a critical thinking toolkit. Students can bring a critical edge to advertisements, political speech, and everyday discussions, which will help them arrive more quickly to underlying issues, claims, values, and motivations.
2. The ability to employ rhetorical techniques in speeches, presentations, debates, and written work boosts the quality and quantity of students’ work.