Teaching Students To Write Compelling Arguments

The ability to teach persuasive writing as a fundamental skill is seen in the best teachers of English and critical thinking. Well beyond the simple ability to put words on paper, persuasive writing requires the skills and ability to think critically, develop supporting facts and ideas and formulate these data into a cogent and compelling paper. Thus, writing skills are important, but not as important as the ability to help the student think critically and research supporting arguments.

How to teach persuasive writing.

This type of writing should be introduced, not as part of the study of the English language, but instead as a component of rhetoric and critical thinking. Alough the communication medium is either print or speech, the student must learn the ability to take an issue and develop a stance on that issue. They must then learn where to research the facts that support their position and how to organize those facts in a manner that will create a compelling argument. Students must also learn the ability to evaluate the multiple sides of an issue and work to understand the underlying motivations that support an opposing position. All of these aspects factor into the creation of a cogent and compelling argument.

In teaching these lessons, examples are fundamental to helping students understand the mechanics of developing compelling speeches and papers. For example, choosing an issue as a class, then assigning half of the class to one position and half of the class to the other is an excellent exercise in critical cognitive development.

By assigning students to take a position on an issue that may be contrary to their personal belief, they are forced to evaluate an issue from a perspective that may be foreign to them. Then, requiring the students to develop arguments that are factual and that support ideas that are incongruent with their own beliefs, the student is required to expand their point of view and develop substantiated reasons that support this foreign view.

In general, teaching persuasive writing should be a collaboration between the English and Debate department. Ideally, the same teacher would have purview over both departments. Anyway, as stated above, the typed word or vocal speech is simply the medium to deliver the message. However, these are the tools of the English instructor. Alternatively, the ability to establish rhetoric, critical arguments and substantive facts are skills that are more fully developed in the atmosphere of a debate or negotiation. Thus, both departments should be cooperating to develop this critical component of adult communication.

Introduction to persuasive writing

Students should be introduced to the concepts of persuasive writing at a relatively early age. Once the fundamentals of English written communication have been established, children should be taught the fundamental components of a persuasive essay.

Understanding that younger children do not have a fully developed sense of reason, the format of a paper versus the content should be a focus as they learn the basic. Once students understand the basics of writing a compelling paper, they can then be taught the nuances of creating a cogent argument that is for or against a position.

This skill should be introduced shortly after the student has developed a strong understanding of written English and grammar so that they can draft fully developed paragraphs. From these early beginnings, the student should be periodically challenged and constantly instructed on how to better format an effective essay as well as how to evaluate the merit of an argument.

Teaching the student persuasive writing should be a long-term goal. As they progress through elementary, and middle school, through high school and onto secondary education, student should be often required to practice the skills of writing compelling papers.

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