Monday, February 28, 2011

Comments on College Writing

Question: How do some college professors feel about the five-paragraph essay and the high school research paper?

Answer: “E[nglish] J[ournal] readers may be interested to learn that not one professor mentioned five-paragraph essays or ‘traditional’ high school research papers in the focus-group discussions as essential in college writing.” [Insert on P. 76 in bold-face print.]

Comment: [The five-paragraph essay] is the NCTE’s persistent and annoying attack on a practice in English teaching, similar to other attacks in the past on grammar [its uselessness in improving writing] and the final product [vs. process] in writing. It’s a valid attack if the teacher of writing does not go beyond the five-paragraph essay as a model for organizing expository writing.

I grow tired of suggesting that the NCTE’s own journals are only expanded examples of the five-paragraph essay, with introductions, statements of the purpose for each article in the beginning of the article, topic sentences for middle paragraphs and a summary conclusion. Tell them what you are going to tell them. Tell them. Tell them what you told them.

THE FIVE-PARAGRAPH ESSAY IS SIMPLY A MODEL FOR ORGANIZING EXPOSITORY WRITING. It is not intended to be the completed form of writing—except in 25-minute SAT essays, which is a matter of survival. RayS.

Title: “What Do Professors Really Say about College Writing?” E Breckman, et al. English Journal (January 2011), 75-81.

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