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Under current circumstances, students are always overwhelmed by unity and test. From Preliminary English Test (PET) in elementary school to SAT and GRE in universities, our life is “polished” by all those standardized scores graded. The idea that despite the indicator properties of standardized test, it should be minimized has its roots in purposes of education, but the underlying reasons are often neglected. In the “Essentials of a good education”, author Diane Ravitch puts forward a detailed argument for establishing a diverse, comprehensive, and individualized education. In doing so, she employs a variety of rhetorical elements to persuade her readers the significance of a good education, including the utilization of facts, the issue of rhetorical questions, and the calling for pathos.
Author’s deft use of facts begins with the discussions of standardized test. Diane utilizes a synergistic reference to two separate sources of information that serves to provide a stronger compilation of support for her concerns about unduly importance on tests. By stating that “since all students were mandated to master mathematics and literature due to the NO CHILD LEFT BEHIND act, schools expanded times spending on those subjects. ” As a result, they will receive more funding thanks to excessively time spending on exercises. In this part, Diane uses her words as evidences to reinforce the unnecessary part test takes, which not only shows that both students and schools should not be only judged upon tests, but also helps to allay doubt about whether her claim is reasonable and effective, since the laws have already identified its correctness. She then immediately follows with a statement that during economic recession, classes which were not included in subjects were unfairly cancelled first. This dual utilization of facts from two separate sources conveys to author’s audience the sense that students are gradually turned into robots specializing in computation and words, which aids in logically leading audience to the conclusion that it is crucial to reduce standardized tests and bring variety and versatility back.
Moreover, Diane pulls the heartstrings of the people who have much more sober brain. By noting that schools with A ranks forced students every day on practicing, she creates an atmosphere where students, staying in test factories, are assembled in rows writing endless papers. By doing so, the author, on the one hand, depicts a sober picture of current situation of students trained by test materials, on the other hand, makes her urgency to eliminate standardized test more credible. When I retrospect to my own story, I felt a sense of resonance with Diane’s depiction of the problems induced by unity and test. As an international student coming from Beijing, I almost experienced all serious consequences caused by standard and test. Starting from elementary school, I was trapped in factorized, test-based education. When I first came into classroom, I was asked to sit decently on the chair with hands on legs. The teacher told us the way to be right was to follow her even if she was wrong. Once I whispered with my friends, the teacher immediately threw a chalk to my head and forced me to stand silently for the whole class. Moreover, as a lefthander, school was a tragedy. I was often isolated from other kids and forced to use my right hand; I was put in the corner of classroom during meals since I might elbow my peers; and I got 20/100 for my Chinese class only because I couldn’t answer the question about strokes: the sequence of writing was totally opposite. I still remembered myself weeping after being mocked by whole class. Although Diane’s opinion may come off as hyperbole, it really happens in our life.
Just as cogent as her use of facts is rhetorical questions. The author makes subtle yet efficient use of rhetorical questioning to persuade audience that public education should be various and fulfill every student’s wishes. She inquiries readers to consider “what do families seek in school and what do they concern about?” in a way that brutally plays to each of our emotions. By asking this question, the author draws out heartfelt ponderation from readers about opinions and meaning of education, since they were once students and now parents who both care about schooling. Then she criticizes, “Why today are public schools unable to afford curriculums they once offered and why are states willing to spend millions on testing while cutting back teachers?” This rhetorical question deeply tugs my heartstrings. When I came to high school, I was educated mainly for The National College Examination, which completely determines your destiny. There is only one chance, and if you perform well, so as your life. Since colleges in China only care about your score, 1 point differences can result in admission or rejection. In my senior year, I always felt myself like a fish struggling to swim upstream. We are forced to recite every template for essay and every formula for math. I had to sacrifice my chess although I had played 12 years. School is like a fortress besieged: those who are outside want to get in, and those who are inside want to get out. As I experienced all those difficulties, I kept wondering what I should do to reform education for my child. Without these emotional-charged questions, Diane’s message would lose credibility.
Lastly, author upholds her argument by using Pathos. With key phrases like “full liberal arts curriculum” and “individual talent”, Diane activates people to preserve student’s creativity, innovation, independence, and dreams, since they are our future fortune. By putting herself beside the reader as a citizen, she equals them, and makes herself more likeable in the process. These lines serve as an emotional call to eliminate standardized test and raise the stakes of the argument Diane is making. If we can customize healthcare and cars, it is our responsibility to make individualized education. Indeed, the calling of pathos is sure to elicit visceral response from readers to advocate.
In summary, Diane-using facts, rhetorical questions, and pathos-effectively makes the case that the education purpose is to let every student be capable to hold their own dreams. It is her use of persuasive elements that lets us get motivated to attend students’ dreams and give them a world where each of them can become a fish swimming freely in water.
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