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This is especially true when it comes to argumentative writing, which is particularly complicated and intimidating for many students.The five paragraph essay is meant to teach these students a clear and tested template for argumentation that can also act as a handrail to guide and guard students as they learn about argumentation.There is a wonderful treasure trove from Moving Writers here, but I often just pull them off of op-ed pages.
So far, it likely seems pretty similar to what they’ve done before, but then I throw a twist at them:. Why do a lot of teachers tell students to put a thesis at the end of the introduction? This is pushed further by the next question, which goes…
Suddenly, the students are asked weird questions like can an essay be clear if a thesis doesn’t go in the introduction (yes) or could starting with a first-person story be an acceptable technique to grab attention in academic pieces (yes as well).
Such an essay form is the very three-partitioned tombstone of human reason and imagination.
It is not hard to find teachers who feel like Warner and Zarins, and there is good reason for the depth of their emotion.
The rationale is–and I recognize that this is controversial–that there are some very good reasons why teachers teach the five-paragraph essay.
One of these is captured by Sheppard is right that writing is not natural.
It is a learned skill like playing an instrument, baking, or coding.
While occasional savants may learn these skills sans instruction, the rest of us mortals can only reach higher levels of success if someone shows us how.
This requires students to think about argumentation at the deepest level –the transfer level– and introduces the idea that arguments can come in lots of shapes and sizes.
From there we move on to looking at mentor texts of different ways to approach argumentation.