Being able to make a sound, well-reasoned argument is a key skill that has both academic and real-life applications. Also, when teaching students to engage with current events and social issues, it’s essential that they learn how to form sound arguments about their opinions. When thinking about how to teach argumentation, the best place to start is the Modes of Persuasion. Ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle defined three modes of persuasion: Ethos, Pathos, and Logos.
Ethos is the appeal to credibility. A writer or speaker can employ ethos by explaining their own expertise or connection to the issue, using unbiased language, and citing reputable sources.
Pathos is the appeal to emotion. A writer or speaker uses Pathos by telling personal stories or anecdotes and using words and phrases that evoke emotion.
Logos is the appeal to logic. Logos can be used by citing data and statistics, as well as using common sense and analogies.
The resources below will help introduce the modes of persuasion and provide ample opportunity to apply them in argumentative writing and speech.
- Depending if you want to focus more on writing or speaking, here are two slide decks that will help you introduce the topic and show students how they can apply the modes of persuasion in their own work. Writing and Speaking.
- Here are animated videos that dive further into each mode of persuasion and their practical applications: Ethos video, Pathos video, and Logos video
- Practical application: write an op-ed on a social issue or current event of your choice. Resources and assignment print outs are available here. If you email student articles to [email protected] we will publish them on students4sc.org. For the sake of this exercise, each article should employ all three modes of persuasion.
- Other practical applications: design a social media campaign, give a speech, or record a PSA on a social issue of your choice. Remember, the goal of each project is to make and defend a stance, using the modes of persuasion to make a persuasive argument.