Making Arguments Stronger: How to Get Students to Consider All Sides of an Issue

Teachers, Profs, Parents: Writers Who Care

By Patricia A. Dunn

Whether students compose arguments for tests or for real-world genres such as online petitions, public service announcements, complaints to manufacturers, letters to editors, etc., their writing would be more persuasive if they acknowledged and understood opposing views. As more and more people today shield themselves from positions with which they disagree (by limiting their news channels and social media feeds), how can students learn to open the minds of those who don’t already agree with them? The first canon of ancient rhetoric—invention (exploring an issue thoroughly)—can help.

What is Invention, and Why Do We Need It for Writing?

Ancient rhetoricians designed invention strategies to help speakers understand and consider many sides to an issue, not simply to address the concerns of opponents but to possibly negotiate a mutually agreeable solution to a problem. We know invention today mostly through “pre-writing” exercises that help students think…

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