Studying Rhetoric for College Success: How the Study of Classical Rhetoric Can Prepare Students to Excel in Higher Education

Rhetoric seeks to prepare students to “observe all the available means” of persuasion, enabling them to more easily master every kind of writing from analytical reports to argumentative essays. Sadly, many high school educators seek only to have their students write longer papers with long lists of resources and citations, calling that “higher-level” work. The truth is, merely addressing “the who, what, when and where” does
not prepare students for good, college-level writing. The study of rhetoric surpasses the limited training of the high school “research paper” by studying how to collect the best ideas and resources for a thesis (invention), how to arrange ideas and evidence in a compelling way (arrangement) and how to adapt the most engaging language to communicate those ideas (style). In this seminar, we will survey other important kinds of rhetoric-inspired writing beyond the research paper, such as exploratory essays, deliberative essays and argumentative papers, all of which will help students become versatile writers prepared for all types of college writing assignments. The seminar will also address the value of peer review and collaboration, and ways the teacher can serve as a writing coach. The seminar will conclude by noting some of the best curricula and Internet resources available.

Joelle Hodge

Joelle holds a bachelor’s degree in history and political science from Messiah College in Grantham, Pennsylvania. She began her career as a staffer to Senator Arlen Specter before finding her professional home in the world of classical education in 1999. She has nearly 20 years of logic-teaching experience, most of which were spent at a classical school in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. There, she also developed much of their Logic and Rhetoric curricula. She has co-authored two logic books: The Art of Argument: An Introduction to the Informal Fallacies and The Discovery of Deduction: An Introduction to Formal Logic, both published by Classical Academic Press. Joelle was recently appointed as Scholé Academy’s Principal and works to support a staff of nearly 20 educators. She enjoys helping them develop productive and inspiring classrooms. She also travels to classical schools and co-ops across the country, tailoring workshops and training teachers in the fundamentals of dialectic and Rhetoric-stage pedagogy.

21st Century Classical

I will argue that education can be both genuinely and thoroughly Classical and at the same time prepare students to be leaders and innovators in the 21st century. I will argue that many of the 21st Century skills being enumerated by progressive educators are the same skills a Classical education is best equipped to offer. I will also maintain that so long as we maintain a Christian Classical commitment to truth, beauty and goodness, and ultimately to God, we should allow ourselves to employ 21st century pedagogical methods where appropriate. Students need the best training they can get to solve 21st century problems, but even more so they need the orientation of the soul towards the Good that Classical education provides.

Sean Riley

Sean A. Riley earned his Ph.D in philosophy from Baylor University in 2011. He chairs the history department, teaches AP European History and two philosophy courses, coaches football, tennis, and the Ethics Bowl team, and serves as a dorm dad at The Stony Brook School on Long Island. He has also led summer travel courses to Greece, Turkey, and China. Prior to teaching at The Stony Brook School, he taught courses at Baylor University, McLennan Community College, and Live Oak Classical School in Waco, Texas. Sean is the author of Recovering the Saints from Modern Moral Theory, available on Kindle. He lives in Stony Brook with his wife, Emily, and his four children, Aidan, Liam, Honora, and Quinn.

The Five Canons of Rhetoric in the Upper School

Classical Rhetoric is more than just a stage in a child’s development – it’s a culmination of one process and the commencement of another. By examining each of the five cannons of classical rhetoric, you will see the immense power of the classical curriculum to prepare young men and women for leadership, for service, and for the kingdom of God.

Andrew Kern

Andrew Kern is the Founder and President of CiRCE Institute. He has also helped found Providence Academy, Ambrose School, Great Ideas Academy and Regents Schools of the Carolinas. Andrew is the co-author of Classical Education: The Movement Sweeping America, The Lost Tools of Writing and The CiRCE Guide to Reading. Andrew is also a consultant and founded the CiRCE apprenticeship.