The Art Of Persuasion

Day 27 SOL19

I am teaching my Class 1 students how to write in a persuasive style.

I don’t think they have much clue about the art of persuasion in their daily lives. I am fairly sure all they know is being told ‘do this, don’t do that’ and they either do it or they don’t. I’m sure there is no talk in their homes of  “………., don’t you think you should eat some more rice?” or “Wouldn’t you like to help me by carrying your little brother on your back for ten more minutes while I finish cooking dinner?”

So I am trying to show them what it means to write persuasively. I think it might be good to look at advertisements and then they can try to write their own advertisement and persuade someone to buy their product.

Hmmm, problem, where do these kids see an advertisement? The only one I’ve seen in town is a huge billboard advertising cement (because everyone dreams of building their house out of concrete, as that means you’re successful and rich – even though concrete houses here look like big ugly boxes to me). This advert has a picture of the most recent Indian athlete, originally from this area, to win a medal at an international event, usually in weightlifting or boxing.. Because cement equals STRONG. But my kids don’t have concrete houses and are not really aspiring to or interested in such a concept.

If they watch anything on TV it is Cartoon Network or Nickelodeon and all of the commercials are totally mindless and aimed at the middle class, so forget about those.

The only things I can think of are basic items like food and drink or soap or toothpaste –  stuff that they will see in the local stores. I discount sweets as a bad idea and tea, even though everyone drinks it, because as a non-tea enthusiast, I’m not sure how to advertise packet tea in an exciting way! (Any ideas or thoughts on other items for the future would be gratefully accepted!)

So we prepare to write.

If I give them a choice, they would most likely all select the same item, so I divide up the available choices around the table, you write about juice, you write about biscuits, you write about jam, you can write about toothpaste, you can write about soap and so on.

Pencils poised above their notebooks.

“So now, you need to think of a good name for your juice, what are you going to call it?”

“Juice?”

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We get through that one, with quite a bit of assistance.

“So now you need to tell everyone why they need to buy your jam, what’s so special about it?”

“It’s sweet.” Yes, we’re getting there! We brainstorm a few more words like, tasty, crunchy, sparkly, yummy and we’re on our way!

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After writing out and illustrating their advertisements, they present their persuasive writing to the rest of the school. They are a little rushed and breathless, but it goes well.

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These kids are just the best!

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10 thoughts on “The Art Of Persuasion

  1. The examples of their work are adorable.I am trying to imagine what it would be like not to be bombarded with advertisements all day long. This post also makes me think about why persuasive writing is so very prevalent in American culture and how perhaps other cultures don’t rely so much on it and might prioritize other ways of communicating.

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    1. Thank you. I think they would have a lot of adverts on their TV but not stuff they can relate to. I think it’s to do with being poor and the lack of choice here, so who cares about the brand and what it can do for you? Plus the fact that here you’re not encouraged to have an opinion, just follow what you’re told to do!

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  2. Such a good post illustrating the importance of relevancy in writing assignments. Your post reminds me of something English actor Michael Caine said when asked about his very poor childhood in London… He didn’t know he was poor because he didn’t have a TV to tell him he was. Your students are less familiar with persuasive communication because they don’t encounter it. Hmmm…. I’m wondering, what other forms of communication are difficult for students because they are not present in their lives? I love seeing your students’ work.

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    1. Thank you! Yes, you raise some interesting points, as usual. No one here is encouraged to have an opinion or to look at something critically, so that may be a factor. Especially not if you’re poor, you are just meant to do what others tell you! Teaching kids about the right to choice is part of our curriculum at this school (unfortunately it isn’t elsewhere).

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  3. This is so interesting. Cultural differences make our curriculum interesting. My English Learners don’t always react the same way to the curriculum than the students who were born here. yet you found ways to teach persuasive writing to your students. You are a good teacher; you know how to adapt the work so that it works with your students.

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  4. I really enjoyed this slice because it made me think about our conflicting teachings in the US. In some teachings, we want the to persuade and convince others, often to get our own way. In the next breath, the students must share and be a friend and think of others’ feelings, wants, and needs.
    I was also reminded of trying to explain the lack of packaging in so many other countries. Plastic bags are the standard for everything from laundry soap to noodles with no need for the additional packaging/trash that is only for advertising purposes the majority of the time. I love seeing slices of your life in India.

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  5. Thank you, you raise interesting points. Unfortunately India is full of packaging and therefore trash everywhere. Some things are double or triple wrapped! Even in the market areas they use plastic bags, unless you put a recyclable bag in their face and point to it (not knowing how to tell them in their own language!!) The river here is full of plastic bags!!

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  6. I think persuasive writing is one of the hardest forms of writing. Coming up with a product…finding something unique about that product that similar products don’t have…instilling a need for your product over others…When I was still teaching we did a whole unit on propaganda in advertising before we started our persuasive writing.

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