Isn’t rhetoric what politicians use to manipulate people? Don’t we hear charges of “That’s just empty rhetoric?”
The term rhetoric is now defined as “the undue use of exaggeration or display” in writing or speech” (www. dictionary.com). Since we routinely defend ourselves from advertisers who would persuade us to buy their products, or candidates that would sway us to vote for them, why make a point of studying rhetoric?
The answer lies in the older, classical definition of the term rhetoric. Noah Webster’s 1828 dictionary defines rhetoric as “the art of speaking with propriety, elegance and force.” As one wise author put it, the subject of rhetoric is the “art of a good man speaking well.”
As students progress through Geneva Academy, they learn to connect good reasoning with good communicating. In the upper levels, formal rhetoric classes further develop the skill of presenting truth in a beautiful way. The study of rhetoric teaches students to speak correctly and to use metaphors and figures of speech to clarify meaning. Students learn to persuade logically and truthfully.
As students study great works of rhetoric, from the classical period to modern history, they gain confidence in their ability to defend truth, advance understanding, assist the weak, and exert a Christian influence on culture. The study of rhetoric is crucial to developing students who can faithfully represent Christ to our unbelieving world in a powerful way.