Skills for Rhetoric author James Stobaugh's primary aim is to equip Christian students to be intelligent and effective apologists for their faith. As a result, his approach to rhetoric instruction pays little tribute to Classical models, instead focusing on student character development, moral instruction, and logical defense of Christian doctrine. Secular examples are included, but even these are evaluated in terms of Christian communication.
This is a one-year course intended for middle school or early high school students. 34 five-day lessons are to be taught by parents or teachers (this isn't a student-directed course) and will generally take about 1-1 1/2 hours per day. Suggested weekly lesson plans help both teachers and students stay on schedule and keep lesson objectives in mind.
For each lesson there are three types of objectives for students--cognitive (intellectual), moral/affective, and behavioral. For Stobaugh, rhetoric is the effective and appropriate use of language in written and oral communication, and in his view this means the defense of Christian ideals leading to improved individual and social morality.
Students begin each day by writing a warm-up essay. Then they read 35-50 pages (from the Student Edition and other recommended sources), expand their vocabulary, work on that week's essay or speech project, and record a journal entry. There are also periodic tests to gauge progress. Many of the assignments are reiterative (summarizing and rewriting), though there is plenty of original work required as well.
The Teacher Edition includes all the schedules, information for evaluating and grading students' work, content for tests, Stobaugh's course philosophy, and appendices with material to help students evaluate their own work, the work of peers, and how to review non-fiction, plays, poetry, etc. A DVD features Stobaugh presenting sample lessons and providing extra information for teachers.
In the Student Edition, students will find the reading assignments, exercises and evaluating tools, as well as the lesson-by-lesson objectives. The appendices found in the Teacher Edition are also found in this volume, including a suggested reading list and glossary of useful terms. This isn't a workbook, so conceivably multiple students could share a single copy.
This is a reasonably good introduction to essay- and speech-writing, but it isn't really a rhetoric course. Students are not introduced to the three persuasive audience appeals, the Five Canons of rhetoric, or much of the terminology embraced by the third stage in the Classical trivium. While this isn't a big deal on one hand (students do learn how to express themselves more clearly and interestingly), on the other it's a little misleading for Mr. Stobaugh to call this a rhetoric course. Still, it's effective and could serve as a good introduction before progressing to more thorough rhetorical study.