This past year, one of the most successful activities we did in my English class was a unit on rhetoric and argument, complete with a class debate, a devil’s advocate debate, and an argumentative essay. Each piece of this unit went over well. Students loved debating each other, they loved debating the character I portrayed (who argued in favor of a flat Earth), and they actually really enjoyed writing the essay. The most important piece of this, I felt, was that the essay and debate topics were not focused on them – they were big issues that concerned a lot of, if not all, people. Issues like abortion and capital punishment were popular, as were several other big, hot-button issues.
In looking at OpposingViews, I cannot help but shake with excitement at the possibilities that arise for our rhetoric unit. To begin with, imagine the modeling that can be done using this site: students can see exactly what experts on different sides of an argument say and, more importantly, how they say it. So many lessons in word choice, tone, and voice! Another possibility: examining logic and logical fallacies in different arguments. As a wannabe philosopher, I want so badly to teach logic and fallacies, but just can’t find the time. Argument is about the closest I get to that, and this seems like a great opportunity to critique arguments for fallacies. Add to all of this the credibility of this site as a source for their papers – they’d be quoting experts on both sides of the argument – and we’ve got ourselves an amazing site on our hands. (Can you tell I’m excited yet?)
I am eagerly looking forward to sharing this site with students and using it in class next year. And feel free to suggest other ideas for its use…I’m sure there are many!