English lessons in one North Carolina high school included questionable characterizations of Presidential Candidate Donald Trump, as well as commentary about Republicans and FOX news.
Audio of the lesson in question was captured by a student or students unknown attending Cedar Ridge High School in the Orange county school district.
The English lesson centered on various modes of persuasion called Ethos, Pathos and Logos. These modes of persuasion are also known as the ‘three artistic’ proofs of persuasion as termed by the Greek philosopher, Aristotle.
Ethos speaks to the character of the speaker, Pathos represents the emotional impact of the speaker on an audience and Logos represents the logic or content of an argument.
It is unknown why political parties and current political figures were used for the lesson instead of classical literary references or even Aristotle’s own works.
Harder’s personal website has a section on her ‘educational philosophy’. The section, in part, states that teaching is an “active process” and is “communal”. Harder’s philosophy also says that, “a classroom should be a safe environment for all.”.
The audio was obtained by this site after the students had allegedly endured multiple lessons of the same nature. Allegedly, the class had previously been comparing speeches made by Adolf Hitler to that of Presidential candidate Donald Trump.
Some of the comments made by the teacher, Amanda Harder, were sent along with the full transcript to both the Principal of Cedar Ridge High and to the Orange county school board.
“So, Trump may not be master of many things. He is in fact the master of Pathos. O.K. … he… he is poking the fryers under particular niches of people in this country. People who are anti-Mexican, people who are anti-Muslim, people who are anti-woman.
Basically the only people who seem to be safe from this guy are white Christian males… am I missing anything? Oh, American — white Christian male Americans.”
This site reached out to the Principal of the school for comment, however none was forthcoming. The Communications Director for Orange county schools, Seth Stephens, issued the following statement:
“We certainly have a policy that acknowledges that political literature or items of a political nature can be used for instructional purposes, but in no way should a teacher use any sort of political materials that are ‘pro’ or demean an political party or political position — there’s no place for that in the classroom. There just isn’t.”
The Orange county school board did not respond for comment.
Since reaching out to the school for comment, sources tell this site that Ms. Harder has now begun collecting student cell phones at the beginning of class.
It’s worth noting Harder’s personal website mentions technology use. The section includes a statement on cell phones with an ironic misspelling.
“I do not want to confescate phones, but I will if they become a distraction to instruction.”
In this case, the cell phone has arguably gone from a distraction to an instrument of instruction.
Orange county schools are no stranger to controversial lessons. In 2015, a third grade teacher named Omar Currie read a book with a homosexual theme to his class. The book, King and King, features two Kings who fall in love and kiss at the end.
Currie did not seek parental permission and claimed it was an ‘anti-bullying’ lesson. That claim was swiftly debunked by outraged parents.
It was also discovered that Currie, and the Assistant Principal of the school he was employed, at attended an LGBT conference just months prior to Currie reading the book to the class. The pair led a session designed to infuse social justice and ‘Disrupt Heteronormative School Cultures’ in elementary classrooms via books like King and King.
Curry allegedly resigned his position in North Carolina prior to the reading of the book and is now working as a teacher in Virginia.
The full audio of Amanda Harder’s lesson is available below along with a transcript.
Note that the mention of specific student names by the teacher had been electronically masked to protect their identities.
H = Amanda Harder (Teacher)
S = Students
H: …if you don’t buy this life insurance you’re letting your family down. So, that’s like playing on people’s secret fears.
H: Who is the master of Pathos? Sadly, it’s those two on a daily basis. Who… who in the news…
H: Trump. Right.
S: Wait whaaaat?
H: So, Trump may not be master of many things. He is in fact the master of Pathos. O.K. … he… he is poking the fryers under particular niches of people in this country. People who are anti-Mexican, people who are anti-Muslim, people who are anti-woman.
Basically the only people who seem to be safe from this guy are white Christian males… am I missing anything? Oh, American — white Christian male Americans.
Alright? So, who knows what his actual motives are but he is a master at manipulating his audience, right? He knows where the fears lie and he is going right after them.
Now, is he any different than any other politicians? No. Not really. I mean, Hillary Clinton is guilty of the same thing. The only difference is she is a little bit more subtle about it. He just doesn’t seem to care who he offends. She seems to be more subtle about offending the general public. O.K.?
Uh…So.. can you give me an example of – one example of Pathos used by Trump? Or if you can think of one from another politician that’s fine, it’s just that Trump’s are easy to pick out.
H: What about…. [STUDENT NAME REDACTED].. did you come up with one? For Trump?
S: Yeah, um when he could criticize the mother and father of the fallen soldier and he said that she couldn’t comment because she was Muslim… and that was kind of.. it was like instantly me against Muslims and she was like I was trying not to break out in tears because her son died.
H: Right. So he was hoping one group of people would be behind him – the anti-Muslim group of people. But he totally disregarded the fact that these were AMERICANS.. first of all. [Laughs] And these were people who lost their son and their son had been lost fighting for this country. .So that kind of backfired on him a little bit.
Alright? Ummm.. Any other examples? I want you to try to pick up… pick out a non-Trump example, because, like I said, he’s sort of a ‘gimme’. He’s so easy. What about the others?
H: It’s so easy with the Republican party in general. I want you to start looking for these with the Democrats when you see them on TV. Because again, there’s much more subtlety in the Democratic party. It’s harder to pick out. [STUDENT NAME REDACTED]?
S: You see it a lot with the reactions like gun control, after they, like, when the people making speeches about that. You see that a lot.
H: Alright.. so there’s the [unintelligible]. O.K. Here’s a good.. well, it isn’t Obama saying it, but it’s a good reaction to something Obama said. There was a threat of Obama, like some kind of gun control law and then everyone ran out and bought all these guns. They like were just like.. get.. buying everything in the gun shops because they thought Obama was going to steal their guns. Like.. ‘we couldn’t have guns anymore’.
So, that kind of backfired on Obama a little bit because it inspired a whole group of people to run out and buy the guns. Right?
Um.. So, remember, it has to be orchestrated. It has to be designed when you’re dealing with rhetoric. These are things that are specifically designed for a specific purpose but often times they backfire.
S: That’s not what I meant. I meant like when they are actually talking about, when you know these people are shooting these people and stuff like that. That is a.. that can be a Pathos.
H: Pathos. Absolutely. Let me ask you this – because here’s a fine line: So when he did all those speeches about um… Newtown. The shooting in the kindergarten class? Is that Pathos or is that Truth?
S: Pathos [unintelligible] if you accept the [unintelligible].
H: Well I think… Here’ the.. Here’s the fine detail you have to be aware of – it’s Truth when you’re not trying to get anything. It’s Pathos when you’re trying to manipulate.
Now he may have in the back of his mind been trying to manipulate people into supporting the gun control law. But at that moment he was probably just memorializing the kids and the teachers, right?
So, be aware of that and there are some news channels that you’re probably watching at home or that your parents are watching at home that are masters at this kind of stuff. I mean, the thing that comes to my mind is FOX news.
[Student cross talk]
H: But.. there are… FOX news is on the Right… side of the spectrum. But there are ones equally as guilty on the Left side of the spectrum.
My father who is a cah-razy conservative, thinks NPR is guilty of that. I don’t think so. I think, like…
I think like CNN and NPR and Al Qaeda… [sigh]Uh, Al Qaeda….[class laughs] ..Al Jazeera are all sort of middle of the roaders.
But um, there are those sort of Lefist news shows as well. So bear that in mind.
And then there is the third rhetorical device we will be studying today – is Logos. That is the appeal to logic. Every argument has to have Logos. If you don’t have Logos, if you don’t have a logical argument that makes sense? You’re dead in the water. You don’t even need the other two. O.K.?
So, we are going to watch a couple of videos. My expectation is that you will lift up that paper and take notes on important things you see in these videos. O.K.?
And then we’re going to do a little activity that helps you reinforce what you’ve learned.
[cross talk and noise – Recording Ends]