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If the 5-paragraph essay were good training for writing college-level academic essays, you wouldn’t hear so much carping from college instructors about the quality of writing from their students. We were 3rd graders, so of course, we didn’t do this.Mature writers need to navigate choices rooted in genuine rhetorical situations. The extent to which we didn’t became apparent next class when Mrs.
It is a spirit killer for both students and teachers.
For those who are fans of so-called “accountability” in education, it is actually the tool that allows the worst teachers to hide amongst the good, as it’s incredibly easy to game with hacks, tips, and tricks.
That day, I learned that writers need to be careful with their words because if someone is asked to follow them, things can go very very wrong. Goldman was teaching us a number of different things, genre awareness, audience, structure and sequencing.
None of it had anything to do with a standardized assessment. Most of all, we were absorbing the lesson that above all, writing is done for audiences.
You’ve got to know the rules to break the rules, right? At least not these rules, and the way students learn them.
While a well-done 5-paragraph essay may exhibit some traits that we value in other forms of writing – engaging opening, clear focus/thesis, transitions between ideas, general coherence – the writing of a 5-paragraph essay is primarily approached from a tactical angle, and occurs outside a genuine rhetorical situation (audience/purpose/message).Goldman brought in the necessary supplies for making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and then told us we had to make our sandwiches .If you forgot to mention that you needed bread on which to spread the peanut butter, you smeared it on the plate.Let’s just go ahead and kill the 5-paragraph essay at all levels, everywhere. The 5-paragraph essay is indeed a genre, but one that is entirely uncoupled from anything resembling meaningful work when it comes to developing a fully mature writing process. We can have essays that happen to be 5-paragraphs long, but there shall be no more “5-paragraph essays.” That just about everyone reading this is well-familiar with the 5-paragraph essay is a testament to why it needs to be retired, and by retired, I mean killed dead, double-tap zombie-style, lest it rise again.You see, if your essay has the same structure as every other one, any reader should be able to quickly and easily find the information most relevant to them.The principle purpose of the introduction is to present your position (this is also known as the "thesis" or "argument") on the issue at hand but effective introductory paragraphs are so much more than that.Even the old-fashioned “book report” is superior to the 5-paragraph essay as a tool for developing writers and writing, as it embraces audience and purpose, i.e., tell someone about the book you just read and whether or not they should read it too.A book report is the solution to a genuine writing-related problem.Only then, with the reader’s attention "hooked," should you move on to the thesis.The thesis should be a clear, one-sentence explanation of your position that leaves no doubt in the reader’s mind about which side you are on from the beginning of your essay.