Date of Award

Fall 12-20-2012

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

English

First Advisor

Dr. Mary Zeigler

Second Advisor

Dr. Christine Gallant

Third Advisor

Dr. Elizabeth Lopez

Abstract

African American students, particularly those from low socio economic levels, are often at a disadvantage when it comes to being prepared for Georgia’s state mandated tests such as the End of Course Tests (EOCT). These students often fall behind not because they are not as intelligent as their middle class counterparts, but because of negative teacher attitudes and cultural insensitivities. The research question is “What should teachers of urban students know to successfully implement a blending of critical pedagogy and rhetorical pedagogy?” The purpose of this project is to make the case for a rhetorical pedagogy that focuses not solely on changing the material, but on changing the approach to fit the audience- thus a contribution to existing research that has not been fully explored.

Stasis theory, a rhetorical framework for argumentative analysis is used to explain the problem and what steps should be taken to correct the problem; it offers a strategic method for addressing the problem, discussing the nature of the problem, explaining the quality of the problem, and finally, stating what actions should be taken to correct the problem Within that framework, I will show why the guiding principles of critical pedagogy and the primary suppositions of rhetorical pedagogy should be used to teach “at risk” African-American students and prepare them for state mandated tests. Critical pedagogy helps students to find their own voices, find their place in society, and challenge traditional notions of power in thoughtful, effective ways. Rhetorical pedagogy is appropriate because its primary suppositions align with Asante’s tenets of an Afrocentric curriculum and also offer solid strategies for working with urban students.

Rhetoric is power and is the central focus of any effective communication, so educators must understand the guiding principles of classical rhetoric and recognize the importance of audience consideration when preparing lesson plans. A rhetorical pedagogy should be at the core of working with urban students and educators must recognize themselves as “rhetor-teachers.” The culminating activity is a sample unit plan that aligns with Georgia Standards for 9th grade English Language Arts.

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