Rhetorical Analysis Essay Example

This rhetorical analysis essay example emphasizes the problems that the educational system has right now. Using the Ted Talk by Ken Robinson, “Do Schools Kill Creativity,” it was found that various institutions fail to educate students in the expected way as they cannot encourage their creativity. Such issues arise due to the low income in various professions. Also, it happens due to strict educational frameworks where test-solving skills matter the most. The author explains why such a tendency is a problem for society. He delivers his argument by using ethos, pathos, and logos. Additionally, the use of rhetorical appeals helped Robinson to call to action so that listeners change their perception of what is right and wrong when it comes to students and their development.


For my rhetorical analysis essay example, I have chosen a speech by Ken Robinson who argues that the public education system in America kills creativity. Ken Robinson’s speech, “Do schools kill creativity” has become one of the most popular TED Talks. It sparks the idea that we are “educating people out of their creativity.” Unfortunately, schools encourage students to stand on what is taught socially and intellectually without questioning. Even when students are allowed to be creative, they face a lot of restrictions on what they do. Therefore, schools discourage creativity in the majority of cases, limiting people’s potentials and stealing their shine. A thorough view of the speech demonstrates that Robinson is concerned about the issue. He achieved this goal by making proper use of pathos, ethos, and logos appeals throughout his speech.

Pathos Analysis

First of all, Robinson used a pathos appeal to captivate the attention of his audience. He begins by narrating the story of a student named Gillian who had trouble staying focused in class. Her parents, who thought she had ADHD, took her to a specialist to determine how her condition could be treated. Luckily, specialists told her mother that their child was not sick, saying “she’s a dancer, take her to dance school” (Robinson, 2006). Unfortunately, Gillian became one of the most creative and most popular ballet dancers of all time. At this point, Robinson appeals to pathos so that the audience connects emotionally to the disappointment that the speaker feels when it comes to the existing education system. Unfortunately, a lot of people are underestimated and oppressed due to the inability of educators to understand their talent.

Pathos is determined on the level Robinson succeeds to connect to his or her target audience. By using a story that provided a contrast between ADHD and talent, the speaker explains how blur is the line between creativity and misunderstanding. Hence, if specialists advised her parents differently, they would have spent a lot of time and money on ADHD treatment to force her to focus on subjects at school, which were not significant for her future career (Robinson, 2006). Unfortunately, the education system stigmatizes mistakes through tests and strict learning programs. However, children need an individual approach to determine the way how to teach them and how to reach their highest potential.

rhetorical analysis essay

Ethos Analysis

Furthermore, an ethos appeal within the speech convinces listeners on how the system could be improved to promote creativity. Robinson wants the audience to realize that each person has potential. Additionally, he uses key statements of persuasion in his speech. It is evident when he mentions that, “all kids have tremendous talents” (Robinson, 2006). He persuades his audience by telling them that all children, in the right environment, would be very creative. Hence, using the credibility of a university professor, people believe the speaker that all students are bright. He earns such trust because people think that a person who deals with them each day says so, which is a perfect example of the use of rhetorical appeals.

Logos Analysis

Nevertheless, Robinson also demonstrates the use of a logos appeal in his argument about the negative effects of the public school system. According to his report, more than half of American employees (51%) are not engaged in their work today, which results in an average of $250 billion loss in productivity (Robinson, 2006). Unfortunately, after students receive their first degree, they are required to continue education to be a successful scientist. As a fact, such a choice means that they are choosing low income. As a result, he expresses a logos appeal by persuading his audience to rethink creativity within the public education system. Hence, such a relationship relies on the salary available for creative people. Unfortunately, they must seek a solution somewhere else.

Moreover, a logos appeal is present within Robinson’s speech when he explains the importance of creativity and how he convinces the audience to take the initiative to change the public education system as a whole. Mid-way through his speech, he mentions how children are turned away from engaging in the things they like to do because it would not secure them a job in the future. For instance, a child who likes playing the piano cannot do that because a career as a pianist is overly unrealistic (Robinson & Aronica, 2016). Unfortunately, their talents do not matter when it comes to money. He demonstrates a logos appeal by showing that it is not right to deny people an opportunity to do what they want by showing what is better for society, using the difference in salaries.

Combinations of Rhetorical Appeals

In his speech, Robinson’s ethos appeal in line with pathos to convince his audience of the importance of creativity. He uses humor to retell his experiences as a university lecturer and what he noticed about creativity in his students. He metaphorically mentions that they “live up in their heads” (Robinson, 2006). It is humorous to believe that lecturers who have to teach creativity “live in their heads” and refuse to explore what is outside the standard curriculum. At this point, his position as a professor confirms the credibility of the speaker’s words. Additionally, humor enhances people’s emotional connectedness to the subject. As a result, learning institutions, by nature, are not creative environments. These facilities inspire those who complete tests that have strictly identified answers. Also, they punish those who try to learn something outside the box.

Rhetorical Analysis Essay Example

Considering the combination of ethos, pathos, and logos, Robinson utilizes rhetorical appeals to make sure the audience gets ready to change. Hence, this rhetorical analysis essay example identified many stories and facts that helped the audience relate to the issue and understand what is wrong with it. In turn, this rhetorical analysis example may expand views on a topic. Additionally, the author provided examples of stories on success, while students showed their creativity to the public without fear (Robinson, 2006). As a result, the mixture of persuading techniques helped the author to deliver the needed message to the audience. He expects the audience to spread the idea to others – students need freedom of expression. However, when it comes to implementing change, we also have to encourage equal pay for all. Such change matters when we put on what people can and cannot do in their lives.


In conclusion, Ken Robin’s TED talk proves that schools are indeed killing creativity in children. However, to succeed in winning the attention of his audience, he uses a combination of ethos, pathos, and logos appeals. Firstly, he indicates a pathos appeal by grabbing the audience’s attention by connecting to them emotionally. Additionally, he also uses his personal experience to entertain his audience and help them to relate to the issue. Secondly, he illustrates ethos by using his position in the educational system to persuade his audience. As a result, people are certain that he is credible when it comes to students. Finally, he also uses logos to prompt a reaction from listeners by presenting facts and offering solutions. In turn, this rhetorical analysis essay example is helpful for those who want to share their thoughts on different speeches, talks, and other types of works.


Robinson, K., & Aronica, L. (2016). Creative schools. New York, New York: Penguin Books.

Robinson, K. (2006). Do schools kill creativity. TED. https://www.ted.com/talks/ken_robinson_says_schools_kill_creativity