NY Times Best Selling Author Skypes with Adams’ Students


Photo by: Mrs. Jean Bollinger

Students line up to ask Jay questions about rhetoric.

Sophia Williams, Arts & Entertainment Editor

Imagine talking to Shakespeare about Hamlet or discussing The Great Gatsby with F. Scott Fitzgerald. Having a deep conversation with an author about his or her book is a unique and special experience few get the privilege to have, and thankfully, Adams students received that reward.

Fortunately, Adams’ AP Language students were able to have an in-depth discussion with Jay Heindrich, the author of one of their summer reading novels, Thank You For Arguing, Revised and Updated Edition: What Aristotle, Lincoln, And Homer Simpson Can Teach Us About the Art of Persuasion.

Jay Heinrich is a modern day rhetoric master and teacher. After reading Thank You For Arguing, AP Language students began to grasp how to effectively use rhetoric in everyday life. Thanks to Heinrich and AP Language teacher Mrs. Jean Bolinger, students are now rhetoricians.

“Over the summer, while I was searching for ways to discuss/analyze/present the book in class, I stumbled on his website and noticed that he often does speaking engagements and offers SkypeChats to classrooms. I sent a message and received a response almost immediately. From there, it was just a matter of setting up a date and time and developing questions for the chat,” said Mrs. Bolinger.

When students were told that she had arranged for the class to meet Heinrich, and that they could actually talk to Heindrich, they were more than excited.  

“I was excited [and] a little anxious, but I was kind of concerned… if he would answer the questions well or if he would try to manipulate us because, you know, he’s like a master of rhetoric,”  said Junior Dain Vargo.

“At first, I was very nervous. After reading his book this summer, I have a lot of respect for Jay and his knowledge about the world of rhetoric. I didn’t really know what to expect, and I wasn’t sure how students would react to the experience, so there were several “What ifs?” rolling around in my head. I’ve also never skyped with anyone using school technology before,so I had worries about how well the technology would work. Lucky for me, the Media Center staff (specifically Mrs. Carlson) were especially helpful and everything went smoothly the day of the chat,” commented Mrs. Bolinger.

At the end of last month, AP Lang students met in one of the computer labs, with questions, thoughts, and minds prepared to learn more about rhetoric. All types of questions were asked, on topics from politics to personal interests. Unsurprisingly, Heindrich delivered with in- depth and highly rhetorical answers. No matter how silly or petty a question was, Heindrich gave a beautifully articulated answer. He provided examples, explanations, and solutions to all of the students with graceful language.

“I think it was a great experience because it was a different kind of learning where it’s more interactive, so it kind of gives you a better review of things and it was pretty interesting,” said Junior Dania Jamour.

Along with Miss Jamour, Mrs. Bolinger agrees that the skype interview introduced a new learning style for students. Both agree that this affects this year’s, and future AP classes.  

“I think it makes what we are learning that much more accessible for kids. To see and hear someone talk about the art of rhetoric and how it applies not only to his life, but to all of our lives was pretty awesome. It gives students a chance to hear someone other than me geek out over how cool language is and how powerful words can be, so it validates all the time we spend analyzing it in class. As far as how it will affect future classes—it’s now something that I know I can do! So I want to find other ways to bring experts and outsiders into the classroom without having to be physically at Adams High School. I want to spend time brainstorming with other teachers the various experts we could interview via Skype for other classes. It was an amazing day. For the kids and for me. We got to geek out about language and talk to someone who was as equally geeky as us. Plus, Jay was incredibly easy to talk to and adept at answering our questions on the fly. It was one of my most favorite days of the school year so far, ” said Mrs. Bolinger.

The new rhetorical interest established in Adams’ students is hopefully an impactful one. Learning rhetoric is more than learning a linguistic skill; it helps people understand the inner workings of human nature. To find out more on rhetoric, pick up Heindrich’s book, Thank You For Arguing, Revised and Updated Edition: What Aristotle, Lincoln, And Homer Simpson Can Teach Us About the Art of Persuasion or check out his website.