Since I had never taken a course in Rhetoric before, I’d like to think I’ve grown a lot as a reader, writer, and community member. I am much more aware of any rhetorical tools that secretly thread their way through articles, social media, and daily conversations. This awareness really supports my critical thinking skills, because I am able to step back a little and separate arguing techniques from the actual argument being made. Critical thinking is hugely important as a community member – we owe it to each other, in order to better our community. The ad analysis we’ve done comes to mind – I hope to look more critically on the social impacts of rhetorical tools, and that encouraging others to do so will lessen the spread of ads with a larger negative impact. When writing, it is fun to notice how I apply rhetorical strategies myself, especially when it’s more natural than unintentional. I think this especially helps me see how inherent some of these rhetorical tools are (and therefore not feel so manipulated if they work on me).
I think I would most like to continue working on my rhetoric skills as a writer and a speaker in college. Reading analysis comes a little more naturally, but I would like to practice my skill of convincing others. With the switch to online courses, I have not been able to practice my speaking skills with projects like my LDA for example. I am sure my future courses will present plenty of opportunities to practice public speaking and using rhetorical tools in speech. I am at least now more mindful of tools like decorum or commonplace, and can plan ahead to use them effectively. I will definitely take away specific thing, such as: pathos is a rhetorical crutch and doesn’t usually work alone, or the education I received on logical fallacies, but also leave with a better understanding of good persuasion in general.
Rhetoric will definitely affect my academic life because I am more conscious of my own potential power of influence and persuasion, and more conscious when others use theirs. In school I can use rhetorical tools on almost any assignment, even my art, in order to make good impressions and produce quality work. It has already helped me on a more personal level – I have used some rhetorical tools in a few arguments I’ve had already. Being conscious of my argument has also helped me get less worked up if it’s something I’m passionate about.
The switch to online learning wasn’t fun – I think also that the outside circumstances which caused it made it worse – but it wasn’t horrible. I felt it was good to practice self-control and time management almost exclusively under my own direction, and have left with a better appreciation of the benefits of the social and environmental aspects of college.
Ultimately, I’ve really enjoyed our rhetoric class, and I am going to miss it.