While reading through my followers' blogs, I couldn't help but notice Marsha's entry regarding persuasive writing, since she was my genre group member and we both learned so much about persuasive writing together. Marsha discussed the important realization that many authors write persuasive genre texts at the primary and middle levels, instead of the upper level where persuasive writing is actually taught. When doing research for my genre presentation, I too found this to be the case, where many upper level books were either nonexistent in the persuasive genre or were not nearly as helpful as the books written at the primary and middle levels.
The persuasive genre is difficult to teach for many reasons. For one, students developmentally do not have a heightened awareness of others' perspectives and therefore have difficulty writing a piece according to the audience's reaction. Yes, students can be taught the importance of having an opinion or can learn how to express why they believe what they do, but is this enough for truly effective persuasive writing? As a beginning stage, sure. But to completely undertake the persuasive genre to its full potential would require students to write through a completely different perspective, which in my opinion, takes practice.
From an early stage, teachers can use texts to help students better understand the concept of persuasion, no matter the age of the students. Using P and M level texts, even with older students, is beneficial by helping students learn to hold a position and use strategy to convince others of their position. However, putting this into writing is much more complex. Students must learn to understand the perspective of the audience they are writing to, and tailor their language accordingly. Teachers should work to help students think, talk, brainstorm, read, and write from different perspectives as often as possible, not just to help students become better at persuasive writing from an earlier age, but simply because those skills are good to have in general. Doing these things though, often causes adults to feel uncomfortable and pushed outside of their comfort zones, let alone students who are not used to it. It is a very arduous task for students to cognitively grasp let alone apply in practice. As a teacher, it is important to help students understand difficult concepts until they are independent in practice, and using texts to help support students' understanding is just one tool.