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Using persuasion for a real-life purpose

I love it when we can use skills we have learnt in the classroom and apply them to a real-life situation. It is often then that the best learning occurs.

Earlier this year, in April, there was an incident during the small schools’ District Sports Day March when a local business representative handed out balloons to our students as they were marching down the main street. Although the person’s intention was not to create a hazard, the result was indeed a dangerous situation: as balloons were being handed to them, small students in particular started to rush to grab one, forgetting about the rules of safety and behaviour during the march, and this when the other side of the road was still open to traffic…

Upon our return to school, the students and I discussed this event, and we decided to write a persuasive letter to the business owners, to explain to them why we thought their advertising stint was really not a good idea!

We broke the class into four groups, and each group worked together to develop the four following arguments:

1. Distributing ballons created a hazard;

2. Distributing balloons created disorder during the march;

3. Using unaware children for advertising is wrong;

4. Distributing balloons eventually creates pollution.

I contacted the business owner by phone to warn them that the letter was coming their way before I emailed it to them. The person did say that they would discuss the matter with their staff as they had not been aware at the time of the potential hazard.

Here are the developed paragraphs:

1. Distributing ballons created a hazard (Holly, Hamish, Sam, Saige & Jack)

To start with, giving out balloons during the March was a terribly hazardous action. Young students lured by the balloons were forgetting the basic rules of safety, which exposed them to danger. On the day, as soon as one child was given a balloon, most of the small children wandered from their lines and rushed to also grab a balloon. This commotion increased the very real risk that children could accidentally come into the path of moving cars, putting themselves in terrible danger without even realising it. Do you really want to be responsible for such an accident?

2. Distributing balloons created disorder during the march (Bri, Ella, Zoe, Levina, Ben & Harry H.)

Furthermore, distributing balloons to children during the District Schools Sports Day March caused chaos and disorder to our school’s procession. As balloons were being handed out, Mil Lel Primary School students became distracted and rushed out of line to receive a balloon. This caused our school to look disorderly on an occasion when students are meant to proudly represent their school to the Mount Gambier districts community. In addition, children from other schools did not receive balloons, which further caused Mil Lel students to seem turbulent and undisciplined. The distribution of balloons was an inconsiderate action that caused our School March to turn into an unruly display.

3. Using unaware children for advertising is wrong (Jennieva, Estelle, Harrison, Wil, Harry R. & Wade)

In addition, using unaware children for advertising is inappropriate. The young children in the March did not realise they were being used to publicise your company. This is a breach of a child’s rights. We won’t be used as human billboards! Moreover, did you know that to use children for advertising, you need to have permission? Parents and teachers were not aware of this activity and would definitely not have allowed it.

4. Distributing balloons eventually creates pollution (Piper, Eliza, Jacob, Nikki, Jye & Jake)

Lastly, everyone knows that littering is a horrible threat for the environment. When your business handed out those balloons, it was encouraging littering. Small children don’t really know any better and are likely to let the balloons go up in the sky. After a while, these balloons deteriorate and fall to Earth. Rubbish like balloons will wash out to sea which may cause ocean animals to suffocate. In addition, the balloons were filled with play money. Small children will play with it and because they are at a sporting event, they are likely to drop it and therefore create more littering.

This is a good example of a situation where our class has been able to use their persuasive writing skills in a real-life situation. Hopefully, we were successful in effecting change and this will not happen again next year!