The importance of rhetoric and argumentation to schools in England

Richard Andrews

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Rhetoric fell out of favour in education in England in the twentieth century, largely as a result of the split between English Language and English Literature in the late nineteenth century. With the ascendance of Literature as the central civilizing subject of the school curriculum in England by the 1920s, rhetoric diminished in scope and came to refer to literary stylistics or to corrupt political discourse. The present article seeks to restore Rhetoric to the curriculum as an overarching and integrating theory for communication. It not only brings argumentation back into the range of meta-genres that are important in spoken and written discourse, but also argues for a multimodal approach. Text, composition, framing and dialogue are discussed, as well as their pedagogical applications. The end of the article addresses what a curriculum might look like that has Rhetoric as a key element, and how this move might enhance the democratic nature of the school as well as the capabilities of its students.
Original languageEnglish
Article number8
Pages (from-to)77-92
Number of pages15
JournalUtbildning & Demokrati
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 10 Sep 2019


  • rhetoric
  • argument
  • argumentation
  • multimodality
  • dialogue
  • text
  • democracy

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