Composition I

Rhetorical analysis: Should education be reformed?


In Regan Manwell Sowinski’s editorial “Stop Blaming Teachers: Send Texts Instead”, Sowinski pushes the message that American education materials need to adopt viewpoints from all sides of the culture it teaches. Sowinski advocates for this change in the classroom by reasoning through the materials in current use and speculating what they could be, establishing her position of prominence in the argument, and providing an instance of where the issue has affected the learning environment.

First the author establishes her position of credibility in the argument that classroom materials need to reflect the viewpoints of all of its students. Sowinski portrays herself as a white high school English teacher who teaches students of all colors. By establishing herself as a teacher, Sowinski provides the credibility that she understands the interworkings of the school system and has firsthand experience in the classrooms where these situations are taking place to her audience. Sowinski furthers her creditability that she’s knowledgeable about the racial tensions between white teachers and students of color by providing the fact that she’s white and not all her students are. Sowinski pointing out the fact that both she and her students are different helps solidify the argument that class materials conformed to one type of people isn’t best suited for everyone. Being the teacher creating lessons with these materials shows the audience she’s seen the success and failures of the materials and is qualified to make the call on whether they’re working or not. Sokwinski used the facts that she is a white teacher to a diverse classroom to qualify her opinions moving forward to her readers.

Next the author provides her reasoning for why her position that the current source material in the classroom is ineffective. Sowinski states that “in English language arts class, authors of color are routinely dismissed to summer reading lists or regulated to short stories” and that there is a “pattern of presenting African American experiences through the prism of white protagonists and authors” which conveys to students the message that “texts written by white authors are superior and privileged with an in-depth analysis during the school year.” Sowinski believes that only focusing on white authors’ words hurts the environment of the classroom which expands beyond that viewpoint. She feels by limiting the scope of other cultures’ viewpoints in the education system, students aren’t feeling valued in the classroom and therefore aren’t putting forth their best efforts. Sowinski is basically making the point that people who don’t feel valued in their environment won’t put forth their best effort because they feel it’s insignificant compared to others. The author’s solution to this issue is to bring in new source material that encompasses all viewpoints from all different cultures to engage the whole classroom by eliminating the white superiority viewpoint and to enrich all the students with diverse knowledge.

Finally Sowinski uses an instance where the insecurity caused by the white viewpoint source material disrupted the learning environment. She tells about the most important question she is asked each year “would you let your son marry a black girl” because “what they want to know is if I believe they are equal to my White son” and “they want to know if I respect and value them even though I’m White and they are African Americans.” Sowinski captures the feelings of insecurity felt by her students of color by breaking down the true meaning behind this indirect question. By capturing this emotion, the author allows the audience to peer at the turmoil caused by this superior white source material on the students of color and allows them to sympathize. The author uses this connection to convince her audience, there is a problem when education materials make students pose the question of whether they’ll be accepted as an equal in the classroom.

In her piece, Sowinski uses her credibility as a teacher, curriculum material, and a personal example to convey that education needs to adopt materials that include all their diverse students. Sowinski believes that by advocating for this change and calling students, teachers, and parents together to work for this change, the education system can improve both its scores and equality among students.

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