home(r) > iRhetoric > tacit > collecting > the sophists > andragogy > use(r)ful persuings > requirements > reflection > references


The three most important things I have learned so far from designing a syllabus and teaching the Classical Rhetoric course online at the graduate level are:

  1. Teachers can use the making of our tacit assumptions about core classical concepts, itself, as an example of knowledge-making that is essentially what classical rhetors were doing.
  2. Teachers can highlight that classical rhetoric is central to who we are as teachers and citizens today. It is our home. It is our base.
  3. Teachers should work to placeshift ideas to the commonplaces rooted in the lives of students.

These approaches are in line with ancient premises about composing that Crowley and Hawhee (2004) adopt in Ancient Rhetorics for Contemporary Students: that thinking is rooted in the culture we live in, that disagreement can be productive, and that we compose to effect change. To avoid the "rising tide of mediocrity" in our classrooms, we must facilitate self-directed learning rather than simple mind-stuffing. We must remove barriers to collaboration so that the content discussed in our courses can be applied in real ways. Our scholarship--all of it--should return to the central questions about learning and knowledge and application of the ancients; what are our students learning, and why should they be learning more (Bok, 2005)?

I found using new media technologies useful to represent the oral and written communication modes prevelant in the rhetoric we studied. I have not analyzed the work my students submitted in this article. Analysis is more important in the classroom. What is important here is that readers review them and consider how they can be used to affect change in their own contexts. Classical rhetors were politicians, lawyers, teachers, and statesmen. Their work was meant to effect change. Multimodal projects can be readily re-tooled to effect change. Our students are situated thinkers in their own contexts.

A core concept from Aristotle's Poetics, muthos, refers to the way incidents in a play are structured. Many scholars mistake muthos as plot alone. Instead, it is "material arranged to make a coherent and convincing artistic statement" (McLeish, 1999, p.37). It is more than plot. It includes the editing of events and the arrangement of material to draw out ideas (McLeish). For Aristotle, to unify action was simple logic; the author selected and presented material that embodied the particular take on a subject, and the more logic the more unity. The sign of a good writer is that every material included seems essential. Poor writers select and present work in seemingly arbitrary ways.

The same can be said of teachers authoring courses. But what holds a course together for students today is how well the content synchronizes with students' own concerns and ways of writing their worlds. What holds a course together is a unity of place, such as the idea of place presented by Castelvetro. Instead of place being a location, however, teachers should think of place as something different. Place should be dynamic and ever-changing. It does not always have to be a pythagorian algorithm that shows us how to find for X. But it should encourage us to make positive change in the world if, indeed, like xXx, we like it.

The answers can be more simple: they rest in application.

What holds a course together and makes it good is not ultimately the latest software and hardware.

What holds it together is flexible muthos and kairos with common new media types.

Good courses pay close attention to stasis and place and space.

Situation is everything.

Bring in the personal.


Back   Forward


      the study of the teaching of adult learners


      material arranged to make a statement


      resources that are both useful and centered around the needs and interests of the users, often supplied by the users themselves