Posted by: Monideepa Tarafdar | August 6, 2009

Ethos, Logos, Pathos

When a professor walks into a classroom, what is it that she can appeal to in her students, to hold their attention? I came across a useful construction in Aristotle’s On Rhetoric. The Ethos-Logos-Pathos framework provides three points of reference from which to make a case to students. Ethos springs from the credibility, authority or honesty of the professor and relates to how well the professor convinces the student that she is qualified to speak on the particular subject and hence is talking sense and not wasting time. Logos is the shot that the professor takes at the students’ sense of logic. Delivery that is high on logos should use arguments, logic, data and analysis to demonstrate concepts and facts. Pathos is about passion and caring, and about connecting with values and perspectives that students feel strongly about. It conveys a strong sense of excitement and belief of the teacher in what she is teaching. After all, if the teacher does not communicate caring and immersion in what is being discussed, why would the student? Used in the appropriate measures, these three components can make a class credible, serious and fun.

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