How rhetorical devices slip into posts

Here’s a phrase that expresses a variety of attitudes.

” It is particularly important to
have common assessments when there are opposing philosophies so that
students don’t end up the victims of academic experimentation.? ”

Here, by calling “opposing philosophies” “academic experimentation”, he posits an underlying criticism of methods; we just don’t know what methods since he doesn’t spell that out. “Victims” is not chosen willy-nilly; the underlying thrust is that when you do not follow accepted “best practices” your students are victims of your experimentation. Clearly, experimenting with students is akin to feeding them untested drugs without their parents’ knowledge.

Associating terms that invoke unpleasant and suspect phenomena is an old rhetorical trick; the user can always back off the usage, e.g. here by saying, “Well, by experimentation I JUST mean [note the softening effect of JUST] that different teachers are using different methods.” Yet the word “experiment” clearly has associations of impropriety and reckless disregard for the welfare of others, “victims”.


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