Rhetorical Analysis of Books

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This essay presents a rhetorical analysis of two books, both of which discuss important issues affecting the education system. The analysis highlights, among other things, the use of ethos, logos, and pathos in the articles. The first article, What High School Is was written by Theodore Sizer, who was formerly an educationist and a leader of educational reforms in the United States. Sizer is best known as the founder of the Essential school movement and was for many years at the forefront in challenging established educational practices and assumptions. In the article, Sizer establishes his credibility by making bold, professional assertions based on his belief about the challenges facing the education system in the country and how they can be addressed so as to benefit students. To help the audience to get a better understanding of the moment when the article was written, Sizer uses cultural influences. This is evidenced by his description of the way in which societys perception of the significance of education.

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In the article, Sizer describes what a typical school day for a high school student looks like. The author chooses Mark, a sixteen-year-old 11th grader who studies at Franklin High School. Mark's school day begins with several classes in core subjects between 7:30 AM and 2 PM. In between these classes, Mark is involved in many things, ranging from illicit drug transactions to endless chatters. Although there are several co-curricular activities and programs that Mark can participate in, he chooses not presumably to take part in what he pleases. Apparently, Sizer's description of Mark's live serves as an overview of what high school students in the United States go through. In Sizer's view, the primary aim of the high school is to develop a strong foundation for students' development in values, mind, and career. However, this objective is hard to be realized in the contemporary American education system due to ineffective policy reforms.

Logos is used in Sizer's article as evidenced by his use of critical questions and answers involving the students and the teacher. The technique of using questions shows how Sizer is determined to challenge students' ideas in a logical and systematic way. Through this technique, Sizer effectively explains his conviction that Mark's life is an indication that learning cannot take place through classrooms and textbooks alone. Citing findings from previous studies on this important topic, Sizer makes deductive reasoning, which brings out the fundamental issue that he seeks to address. Using different features of language such as word choice, emphasis, vivid description, and analogies, Sizer makes his explanations look more real and appealing to the audience. For example, he states that "Most Americans have an uncomplicated vision of what secondary education should be" (216). The deliberate use of the term uncomplicated here suggests that the author is about to reveal something unusual. He goes ahead and explains that the unusual thing is the manner in which the education system has been established.

The use of pathos is evident in Sizers article as shown by his reaction to the way in which the education system fails to meet students expectations. Sizer begins the article with a detailed documentation of the life of a high school student. He then delves into the challenges faced by the students. This way, Sizer is trying to show how important it is for high school students to be given necessary resources and support to make the best of their school lives. Sizer regrets that under the current system, students are heavily accustomed to schedules and routine activities that they hardly have time to be involved in other issues that are of equally great importance to their lives.

In conclusion, Sizers article is professionally and creatively written to appeal to a wide variety of audience including college students. For many college students, high school life remains the most memorable experience they ever had. It was an important stepping stone to college life. The article brings out a number of issues within the American education system, which shows that there is a great problem in the way in which policymakers and the society look at the issue of schooling. Reading Sizers article gives college students an opportunity to reflect on their current lives and what they can do to change it for the better.

The second reading, Suburban Communities and Urban Life was authored by Michael P Marino. Marino is a professor of history and has taught at several American universities. Among his important accomplishments, Marino has participated in several forums aimed at developing and enhancing the history curriculum for American schools. He has also written extensively on the integration of history into education curriculum. In the Suburban Communities and Urban Life, Marino gives a detailed account of how local historical concepts can be taught in schools. He particularly focuses on the rich history of suburban communities to show how these communities can inform a well-rounded understanding of the history and culture of the American nation. To help readers understand the time when the article was written, Marino refers to various historical events such as the World War II as well as various eras such as the 1920s, 1930s, and 1950s. He then explains various developments that have taken place since these eras. One of these developments is the growth of suburbs into primary residential centers for most people. By referring to historical events and eras, Marino establishes his credibility as a historian. As Marino explains, the last five decades have seen suburbs become important in the American society because more people live in suburbs than rural areas and cities combined. Although suburbs were traditionally looked down upon due to their lack of distinctiveness, they are now an important player in the socio-cultural lives of many people. As such, interesting history can be found in them. In Marinos view, it is imperative that this history is taught in schools.

In the article, Marino uses deductive reasoning as the underlying logos. Drawing from numerous studies, he deductively makes bold claims to support his theme. He begins the article by giving a detailed description of life in suburbs. Some of the aspects that he describes include housing, transportation infrastructure, and demographic characteristics among others. He then juxtapositions life in the suburban communities with life in the cities. This creates a sense of logical progression in the readers mind, which makes reading the article more interesting. Of great concern in the authors use of logical reasoning is the way he deductively argues that although suburban communities tend to be mundane, they act as an important medium through which a lot of history can be learned about lives of the American people.

In several occasions, Marino uses pathos to make emotional connections with the reader so as to advance his point. For example, he states that Many of these suburbs have taken on the characteristics of depressed urban areas, andexhibit all the symptoms of social disaster" (269). In this statement, the author establishes a strong emotional appeal to the audience to ponder about life in suburban communities. The author's purpose is to reveal to the reader that despite the high degree of poverty in most suburbs, these communities have a lot to offer regarding history. Through the use of emotional appeal, the author encourages his audience to be appreciative of suburban history and to support its inclusion in the education curriculum.

Some of the features of language that are particularly effective in Marino's article include word choice, comparisons, and images. For example, he constantly uses the words "suburban life" followed by various descriptions to create clear mental images of life in the suburban communities. He also uses comparisons when he describes life in suburban and that in cities. Through these comparisons, Marino paints a clear mental image which leads the leader into the articles logical conclusion. They are these mental images that enable the reader to appreciate the authors call for suburban history to be studied in schools.

Marino's article appeals to a college audience in a number of ways. The most important part is that the article highlights an issue that has long been forgotten by curriculum developers and policymakers. While a lot has been documented about the history of major cities around the world, not much has been written about suburban history. Yet, suburbs play an important role socially, economically and politically. As such, Marina's article will help college audiences to understand how suburban history can be of great importance in national discourses. The book can also be of great use for students seeking to specialize in education policy and curriculum studies.


Marino, P. M. (2014). The History Teacher. Society for History Education, Inc, 47(4), p. 262-269.

Sizer, T. R. (1984). Horace's Compromise. Houghton MifHin Harcourt Publishing Company. Chapter 11, p. 213-218.

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