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Teachers can take advantage of current presidential elections by having students keep journals in which they analyze public discourse as they record their responses to the campaign rhetoric. An interesting phenomenon that emerges from this activity is a sense of the political identity of the students, a perspective that colors virtually all of their responses. The challenge is to design activities for this analysis that allow students to examine their biases and prejudicial thinking. Teachers must take into account students' attitudes toward politics in general, since some students shy away from politics or even fear the false reality in which politicians have their being. The simplicity with which some students approach the candidates and their propagandistic literature should concern all teachers who value civic literacy. The journals also reveal how interwoven students' political and religious lives are. Students' work or professional experience also colors their responses to political rhetoric. In a highly diverse classroom, then, composition instructors must establish an attitude of trust to foster a civic literacy among students. Journals show how students' attitudes toward political rhetoric change as a result of their study of the campaign. Writing instruction, then, must address the analysis of public discourse, a task that should be carried out at all levels of instruction. (HB)

Descriptors: Civics, College Students, High School Students, High Schools, Higher Education, Journal Writing, Persuasive Discourse, Political Candidates, Presidential Campaigns (United States), Rhetorical Criticism, Self Concept, Student Attitudes, Student Reaction, Writing Instruction

Autor: Goodson, F. Todd; Fabiano, Theodore F.


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