Some lessons go really well. Some fall flat. Sometimes it’s hard to tell which will be which. Teaching rhetorical fallacy to 7th graders could go either way. It’s actually a little daunting. How do you help kids understand arguments that aren’t sound, but that seem convincing? How do you help them understand the difference between emotional, ethical, logical fallacies, and ad hominem?
Examples that aren’t exciting to kids?
But today, my introductory lesson on rhetorical fallacies was a home run! I love when things go well. Even better than planned.
The entire lesson took about 45 minutes (we’d front-loaded the vocabulary a few days ago so the terminology wasn’t completely foreign).
Reintroduce the vocabulary by reviewing what Rhetorical Fallacy means. Under the umbrella of Rhetorical Fallacy, introduce the fallacies you’ll go in depth on. I start by teaching Emotional, Logical, Ethical, and Ad Hominem.
Distribute 4 square graphic organizer.
Start by showing the Thai Mobile commercial, discussing ways this demonstrates Emotional Fallacy, and modeling how to fill out the graphic organizer.
Next, show each of the following commercials, stopping after each to discuss and allow students to fill out their graphic organizer.
Emphasize that there are many different emotions! The key to Emotional Fallacy is that the emotions evoked are unrelated to the product being advertised. There may be a tenuous connection (Thai Mobile’s commercial pulls at our heartstrings and we begin to think of it as a company that cares).
I used the idea of cause and effect (or a math/logic problem) to help students understand Logical Fallacy. If A, then B.
Does the end justify the means? If everyone is doing it, is it wrong? If I don’t get caught, why shouldn’t I do it? These are ethical dilemmas that kids love to debate. The Ethical Fallacy is equally fun to discuss.
This is one of my favorites! It’s a great example of Ethical Fallacy with a heavy dose of Emotional Fallacy, too.
And this one? McDreamy! And a few throwbacks from the past. ER, anyone?
Attacks, via Ad Hominem, would be easily explained through political speeches, but those are too contentious to use as examples in the middle school classroom. Instead, I went with satellite, cable, and cell phone ads. Direct TV has many to choose from.
Many of the ads have different Rhetorical Fallacies represented. I tried to find examples that predominately emphasize the fallacies above, but my students had a great time identifying other fallacies in each example.
John Cena’s Subway commercial shows Appeal to Authority as Logical Fallacy.
And Cadbury’s Dairy Milk Eyebrow Dance commercial is another great example of Emotional Fallacy. Those Canadians make some funny commercials!
I hope you enjoy this lesson!!