Brent, Douglas "Rogerian Rhetoric: An Alternative to Traditional Rhetoric"

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Carl Rogers was the founder of Rogerian Therapy. Although he avoided calling the Rogerian method, Rogerian Rhetoric, by stating that is was Rogerian Communication, Douglas Brent claimed that applying Rogerian principle to rhetoric is an effective alternative to traditional rhetoric. "Rogerian rhetoric also moves away from a combative stance, but is distinct from other models of argumentation in three ways. First, it goes even farther than most other models in avoiding an adversarial approach. Second, it offers specific strategies based on nondirective therapy for building the co-operative bridges necessary for noncombative inquiry. Third, and in my opinion most important, it has the potential to offer students an opportunity for long-term cognitive and ethical growth" (Douglas).

Originally, the Rogerian therapy is used as a particular technique called "restatement" or "saying back," in which the therapist constantly repeats or summarizes what the patient is trying to say in order to facilitate the healing process. The technique is used in order to prevent the patient from having a sense of attack that can happen when a patient has the conception that they are being evaluated rather than discussing the truth behind their personal issues.

Douglas argues that this rogerian technique of "restatement" can be used for rhetorical situations that are emotional laden rather than using the combative techniques posed by traditional forms of rhetoric or "when emotions and a sense of threat preclude direct debate in the classical mode" (Douglas). Rogerian rhetoric can be seen as anti-combative form of argument.

Although this should not be reduced to a mechanical formula of Rogerian Rhetoric, these are the Rogerian stages that should pass in a rhetorical situation:

Douglas experimented by applying Rogerian Rhetoric to the writing classroom in order to achieve the third benefit of rogerian rhetoric in which it provides an opportunity for students' long-term cognitive and ethical growth. "The point of this oral exchange is not so much to invent material for a particular piece of writing as to get the general feel of Rogerian discussion in its most "native" mode, face-to-face communication. Once I think students have got the hang of this, I move them on to the more difficult task faced by writers: recovering underlying values from other people's written texts. Again I pair them off and they begin by writing straight-ahead, univocal arguments for their own point of view on a controversial issue. Students exchange papers and try to write summaries that satisfy the original author, who in turn may write counter-summaries that extend and correct the reflected image of their ideas."

Although according to Douglas the process of implementing Rogerian Rhetoric into to the classroom is exhausting, "students (and the teacher!) have a greater appreciation of the difference between their own default mode of argument and the process of struggling toward a genuine understanding of another's point of view" (Douglas). Douglas Brent

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