Aristotle & Advertising
Holly Stephens’s 5th-grade language arts classes at Friends Community School are studying Aristotle's three proofs or persuasive appeals and how they relate to popular advertising.
The three proofs are ethos (trust, credibility, shared values), pathos (emotion), and logos (logic, facts, reason). “My learning goal for this work is twofold,” Holly explains. “First, I want students to become critical viewers of advertising, understanding how companies attempt to manipulate people into buying their products. Second, I want students to understand the rhetorical appeals so that they can put them to work--non-manipulatively--in their own persuasive writing.”
With a partner, the students did a “gallery walk” around the classroom and looked at print ads, identifying the Aristotelian proofs each used. For example, an ad featuring Serena Williams demonstrated ethos, one focusing on winning at sports, pathos, and one that touted nutritional benefits, logos. This past weekend, students analyzed Superbowl commercials to understand their persuasive appeals.
To make the connection to their own persuasive writing, Holly challenged the students to write a letter to her to convince her to allow them to spend 15 minutes at the playground or 15 minutes reading. The students used the three proofs and persuaded her to grant the extra playground and reading time.