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Rhetoric, the Art of Changing People’s Minds

Found in: Leadership Blog

Firstly, I’d like to thank you for the warm welcome I have received since beginning the role in January. It was a distinct highlight of my time at MCC so far meeting many of you at Parent /Teacher Interviews.

Secondly, I want you to know we are listening. One of the things that has come through loud and clear was the question of how MCC is communicating to parents. Especially the notion that having assessment information and dates all in the one place would be very helpful. We have heard your cry! Parent Lounge has the ability for you to see when teachers post activities, assessments and homework. I have been working with teachers to ensure that all assessments are entered in Parent Lounge to assist you in planning with your children.

My philosophy is that for parents, all school information should be found in one place (Parent Lounge), while each teacher ought to have the professional freedom to use whichever software, app, or website they see fit to promote learning in their lessons. I am comfortable with students learning to navigate between Google Classroom, OneNote and other systems because this is a mark of ICT capability, as encouraged in the Australian Curriculum. However, we know that for parents you need one point of relevant and streamlined information. That will be our intention now and into the future.

Help with setting up and navigating Parent Lounge can be had by contacting our Office Manager, Mrs Anna Guy via email annag@scea.wa.edu.au.

Finally – while on the topic of clear communication, we wanted to promote our new Rhetoric classes. Quintilian[1] said that Rhetoric is “the good man, speaking well”[2] and we shall also say ‘the good woman, speaking well’. Rhetoric is more than public speaking; it involves an appreciation of wisdom, ethics, law and questions of what makes ‘the good life’. Rhetoric can be described as the art of changing people’s minds, a very important ‘soft skill’ in the 21st Century. King Solomon instructs us that: Through patience, a ruler can be persuaded, and a gentle tongue can break a bone and Wise speech is rarer and more valuable than gold and rubies.[3]

We want our students to be able to articulate their thoughts and persuade others well, having the power to influence others and stand up for justice. Christianity has always been a language of words – God spoke the universe into existence, and since the first eyewitnesses the message of Jesus’ resurrection and divinity has always been proclaimed with words.[4]

Rhetoric will be taught in different stages depending on the interest and ability of the student. Classes have been divided to maximise the impact of the material on the lives of the student, according to their individual needs. We hope that as we develop, Rhetoric becomes a defining aspect of who we are as a school.

Like the way MCC communicates with parents, we hope that our students' speaking come through clearly, concisely and powerfully.

Mr David Elsing
Director of Teaching and Learning

  • [1] Marcus Fabius Quintilian (c.35 – c.100 AD) was a famous educator in Ancient Rome and helped formulate the best way to teach public speaking.
  • [2] Murphy, J. (2015) Quintilian on the teaching of speaking & writing. Southern Illinois University Press, USA
  • [3] Proverbs 25:11, 20:15
  • [4] 1 John 1:3-6, 2 Corinthians 4:5,