Today, we listened to “We Didn’t Start the Fire” by Billy Joel. Quite a bit of the song is political. My debate students used to warm up for their tournament rounds with it, so it not only has some really cool political implications and historical significance, but it also has some personal significance, as well. If you were absent, this website will give you a little background about each of the names, places and events in the song.
Last Friday, we discussed the three persuasive appeals: Appeal to Reason (Logos), Appeal to Emotion (Pathos), and Appeal the Authority (Ethos). After listening to the song, we talked about if it contained the appeals, which ones, and where. It does contain all three, by the way.
- Ethos comes from the historical instances and the fact that Billy Joel was the the height of his career when he wrote this. It not only became very popular, but it also opened some people’s eyes as to the craziness that existed in the world during that charged time. The fact of the matter is that we always feel the world had been going slowly crazy. We don’t watch the news because there never seems to be anything positive on. We wonder why kids are killing kids and kids are having kids. We wonder why people try to kill others in mass quantities. However, if you look at the song, the references, and the years, it seems that world has been going crazy for quite some time.
- Logos could be found in the references within the song, some of them playing off of each other.
- Pathos can be found within the chorus. “We didn’t start the fire. It was always burning since the world’s been turning. We didn’t start the fire. We didn’t light it, but we tried to fight it.” We discussed how every generation always thinks the new generation is the worst generation in existence. This is some pretty charged language addressing the fact that we all inherit problems in the world, and we need to do something to fix them. It’s a call to action.
We moved on to check the Conjunctions worksheet. Then we briefly went over main and subordinate clauses. During 5th period, we only assigned the first practice questions. During 6th, we were able to do whole class practice, group practice, and independent practice before moving on and assigning Exercise 2 numbers 1-10 on the worksheet.
You also have a comparison paragraph to write dealing with the diction of “Quilt of a Nation” and “Immigrant Contribution.” You only need to deal with one aspect of the assignment such as audience (see the directions), but you need to also include one of the persuasive appeals. For example, I might discuss the diction used for a particular kind of audience that is trying to persuade them (the audience) with a call to action. The language might be charged, so we’re probably dealing with an appeal to emotion. The other essay may be using the same language but the audience is different. Or they may have the same audience, but the language is different because the reason for persuasion is different. Thinking about it in terms of 5th and 6th periods…. I have what seems like the same audience (advanced 9th graders) but I may use different diction to persuade you to think a certain way about a piece of reading based on our class discussions and personalities. (Yes, you have a personality as a class.)