Discovering Argument: Linking Literacy, Citizenship Education, and Persuasive Advocacy

  • Peter Brett
  • Damon Thomas


This paper explores persuasive writing and what more might be done to help equip young people with the written literacy tools to be effective participants in civic activism. Firstly, we argue from an Australian (and Tasmanian) context that there may be merit in teachers and students re-visiting some of the advice from classical rhetoric around the discovery of arguments. Secondly, we analyse challenges that 14 year old students face in responding to Australia’s national literacy tests which include a persuasive writing task – and exemplify this section with evidence drawn from a data source of outstanding student responses. We conclude by critically reviewing and augmenting the literacy strategies suggested in a representative citizenship education teaching text, and suggest a tentative stepped model for supporting high quality persuasive writing in the context of active citizenship and democratic engagement.

Author Biographies

Peter Brett
Lecurer in Humanities and Social Sciences Education
Damon Thomas
Lecturer in English