In the essay, “Education”, Ralph Waldo Emerson, a transcendentalist thinker, asserts that Education is damaged and he knows of a solution – the educators. He develops this claim by first introducing the paradox linking “Genius and Drill”, expressing his ideal method of teaching. Throughout the essay, Emerson tends to have a condemning tone against the educator but towards the end he changes it into a comforting one.
Emerson’s purpose is to present an alternative style of teaching in order to persuade educators to use the teaching method by using paradoxes, rhetorical questions, and shifts in tone. He establishes an informative and didactic tone for educators who value attention to detail. Emerson begins his essay by explaining why educators must respect the child in order to create an ideal educational system.
He states a paradox between genius and drill in which he backs up by giving insight to the educators about the natural abilities of the scholar. He does this in order to resemble how complex and developed these young students minds are and that they need room to develop their minds on their own. To address drill, Emerson uses short, straightforward sentences like, “Give a boy accurate perceptions. Make him call things by their right names.
Pardon him in no blunder” to dictate the reader in what they have to drill into the children’s minds (Emerson 103). The use of short sentences also serves to relate to the ethos of the reader by making the sentences “larger” than what they mean, earning Emerson his credibility and persuading the educators. He then uses longer sentences to describe how genius should be implemented.
The manipulation of sentence length assists in describing his method of educating the youth by providing declarative or descriptive sentences. Emerson illustrates his theory through an anecdote about how the natural way of learning is possible and actually more efficient than its traditional counterpart.
He does this by giving examples of how Charles Fellows completed his ambitions without the traditional education system. This paradigm provides a real life example providing ethos for his audience by giving a real example of his theory being implemented. Rhetorical questions induce an emotional appeal from educators. Emerson’s use of rhetorical questions attacks the educator in such a way that they question their original methods.
After describing the current systems militaristic ways, he asks the educators “What reformer will it nurse? What poet will it breed to sing to the human race?”(105). He condemns the current system and asks how it could possibly benefit students. Furthermore Emerson provides an analogy comparing the patience needed to teach a student and the “dint of obstinate sitting still” to arouse animals. He then goes on to ask the educators, “Can you not wait for him, as Nature and Providence do” to taunt the educators of their definitive ways of teaching(107).
All of these methods gear the audience toward a path of naturalistic standards. The shift in tone throughout the essay describes Emerson’s main argument. He transitions from asserting the defects in the system to bringing the educators together to repair the problem. In the beginning Emerson instructs the educator by using commanding verbs. For instance when he says to”Give a boy accurate perceptions. Teach him the difference between the similar and the same.
Make him call things by their right names” (103). The continual use of verbs to start sentences sets a didactic tone that undermines the educator. Emerson accentuates an educator’s capacity to inspire students to thrive in a natural learning environment. Through strong commanding sentences, rhetorical question, and empowering tone Emerson strives to persuades the educator in reforming the education system.
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