Identify/Generate the principle
Time: 15 minutes +
You will need at least one and maybe three video tapes from movies
cued up to scenes based on debates. A good start is the classroom
debate scene in Clueless, where Cher (Alicia Silverstone) makes an
argument about providing aid to Haitians that is less silly than
it seems. Then move to more serious debates, preferably in films
students have seen or heard about. If you show more than one, make
the final scene one in which the speaker depends on modes of persuasion
that go beyond bare argument--a good example is the defense
lawyer's closing statement in Grisham's A Time to Kill. Each student
will also need several copies of the argument boxes.
1. Show each scene once, asking students to identify the main claim
and reasons, then show the scene again asking them to make notes
on each part of argument they can identify. For complex arguments,
you may have to replay the scene three or four times.
2. In the Clueless example, after students identify the parts of
argument ask them whether the argument makes sense as an answer to
posed by the teacher. If they don't think so, talk a bit about arguments
based on analogy, show the scene again, and then put them in groups
to map the connections between the Haitian question and her dinner
party (the connections are more extensive than students will at first
think). After the groups report back, ask again about the quality
of Cher's argument.
3. If you use an example of persuasion that goes beyond argument,
first have students identify the parts of the argument and then
put them in groups to make a catalogue of all of the persuasive
that are not specifically a part of argument. After the groups
report back, have the class analyze the practical utility and ethical
of the appeals beyond argument.