Tag Archives: philosophy

A Learning Support on Three Rhetorical Terms: Ethos, Pathos, and Logos

Several years ago I became interested in the Trivium both as a concept and as a potential framework for a unit, in this case a unit on writing. I actually began developing the unit, put together the first three lessons, and offered it as a special institute class at the high school in which I was serving. Unfortunately, an assistant principal who always bore me some animus for some reason cancelled the course.

When I arrived at the school in which I presently serve (and will soon gladly leave), I noticed that the English teachers required in writing assignments that students use the rhetorical moves of ethos, pathos, and logos to argue their case. Since rhetoric is one of the three subjects in the trivium–logic and grammar are the others–I found this interesting.

Which is why I developed this learning support on ethos, logos, and pathos in case the students in my literacy classroom needed it. Unfortunately, I was never able to use it because I was saddled with, and commanded to use, an elementary school-level scripted remedial literacy curriculum for the high school sophomores under my instruction. Would you be surprised to hear that the students turned up their noses at this material and stopped coming to class?

If you find typos in this document, I would appreciate a notification. And, as always, if you find this material useful in your practice, I would be grateful to hear what you think of it. I seek your peer review.

Jerome Bruner on Literal and Metaphorical Inquiry

“As every historian of science in the last hundred years has pointed out, scientists use all sorts of aids and intuitions and stories and metaphors to help them in their quest of getting their speculative model to fit ‘nature’…. My physicist friends are fond of the remark that physics is 95 percent speculation and 5 percent observation. And they are very attached to the expression ‘physical intuition’ as something that ‘real’ physicists have: They are not just tied to observation and measurement but how to get around in the theory even without them.”

Jerome Bruner

The Culture of Education

Excerpted from: Wiggins, Grant, and Jay McTighe. Understanding by Design. Alexandria, VA: ASCD, 1998.


John Locke on Education and Educated People

“Certain subjects yield to a general power that may applied in any direction and should be studied by all.”

John Locke (1632-1704)

Excerpted from: Howe, Randy, ed. The Quotable Teacher. Guilford, CT: The Lyons Press, 2003.

Alfred North Whitehead on Necessity

“’Necessity if the mother of invention’ is a silly proverb. ‘Necessity is the mother of futile dodges’ is much nearer the truth.’”

Alfred North Whitehead

Excerpted from: Winokur, Jon, ed. The Big Curmudgeon. New York: Black Dog & Leventhal, 2007.