School of World Languages, Cultures, and Communications
Aristotle's Taxonomy and CSI
Featured Teaching and Learning Practice
By drawing together a classic theories and a modern television show, Deborah Scally effectively engages students in the learning process.
One of the first things Ms. Scally does in her English 1302 classes is present students with Aristotle’s theories of rhetoric. She gives a handout of Aristotle’s taxonomy that she created directly from Rhetoric & Poetics and explains the ideas in a lecture.
However, the students often have trouble grasping these difficult concepts, especially since they often see no connection to their lives. With their heads spinning and amid protest of confusion, Ms. Scally ends the class by promising that the next time they meet, she will demonstrate how the principles still apply in modern times.
The next class meeting, Ms. Scally shows an episode of the television show CSI – usually one in which the team has to go to court – and then the class analyzes the episode in terms of Aristotle’s taxonomy. After the class has analyzed the episode, she has them complete a Toulmin diagram on the episode.
By then, most of the students have made the connection and reached the “ah ha” moment. Through this exercise, students realize that although the taxonomy was developed thousands of years ago, it still has significance in their lives today.