Rhetorical Analysis Final [Busyn]

In E.B. White’s essay on education, he explains how he put his son into both private and public school. He shows how the differences in both ways of education can develop a bias on which is better. It also shows how certain times in history can create a better or worse experience. E.B. White wrote this essay in the 1940s which was right after the Great Depression struck the nation. White wrote about how the conditions at the private school his son attended surpassed those at the public school. His son came home from private school with a broadened education and a smile on his face.

The author wrote this essay like a story. But, he used ideas of compare and contrast, in the efforts to weigh the differences in public and private schooling. Due to his own experiences, it shows that he truly is a credible source for this information. Both him and his wife attended different type of schooling which gives insight on those two ways of life. A well acclaimed author wrote this essay which gives readers a reason to listen. This gives him the ethos necessary for us to trust his judgement.

Throughout the essay, the author used the technique of pathos to make the audience connect to his son’s situation. Due to the essay being set after the Great Depression, the whole nation lived on the edge. I easily noticed this in the writing due to White’s word choice. The descriptive words turned somewhat dark and overdramatic. Everyone completely lost hope all over the United States. Due to the difficulty of the time, E.B. chose the words to fit his emotion.

During the Great Depression, many schools closed and children went years without education. Therefore, the topic that White writes about is extremely important. Schools were finally being rebuilt after the lack of money to keep them running before WWII. Since private schools had money coming into them, the conditions of the schools in the city where comfortable and as E.B. White says, the conditions of the public schools in the country were “different”(White 4). The way that White wrote the section on public schools made it seem almost immoral.

The conditions weren’t the only thing that show importance during this time of lost hope. The farms all over the nation were suffering greatly. The prices of crops dropped lower and lower during the Depression. So, many farms and families lost everything. Once the Great Depression was over, many tried to revamp their farms. To do so they needed as much help as they could get. White’s son attended a public school that had no more than 60 kids. This was due to how many were called to work on their farm back home. Since class sizes were so small, there was little demand for teachers, so people felt no need to become one.

Farms played a part in the downfall of education, but the lack of money that went into schools caused for little regulation. Due to low funding, many schools cut certain “unnecessary” activities. The absence of these more enjoyable activities made it difficult for child to be happy at school. Even though all states “required” people to complete elementary school in 1918 (“11 Facts About the History of Education in America”, 2015), it was not strictly enforced. It was difficult to do so after many schools shut down during the Great Depression.

After the Depression, the idea of progressive education became one that many schools followed. Progressive education aimed to make children ready to live in a world that was driven by work (“Progressive Education”, 2009). Private schools quickly adopted this way of education, but public schools were a bit behind. All of the modern aspects of private schools strictly came from the money flowing into them.

Readers quickly saw how E.B. White noticed the drastic change in since he attended elementary and high school. The conditions fluctuated and he threw his bias out the window. The moment he saw the unhappiness in children’s faces, he knew that there was an extreme difference in schooling. Due to this, the way that White wrote about the different scenarios was effortlessly distinguishable. Readers will forever have trouble understanding the lost hope of the early 20th century because of the development of education today.

Works Cited

“11 Facts About the History of Education in America.” The American Board Blog, 18 Jan. 2017, www.americanboard.org/blog/11-facts-about-the-history-of-education-in-america/.

Karey, et al. “Progressive Education – Philosophical Foundations, Pedagogical Progressivism, Administrative Progressivism, Life-Adjustment Progressivism.” Practical, Sternberg, Creative, and Students – StateUniversity.com, education.stateuniversity.com/pages/2336/Progressive-Education.html.

White, E.B. “Education.” 1943.

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