Summary Of Unteaching The Five Paragraph Essay

575 words - 2 pages

In an excerpt of Unteaching the Five-Paragraph Essay," Marie Foley reveals how the Five-Paragraph Essay formula contradicts writing instructor's most basic goals. Foley shows that the formula deters from generating individual thinking. In today's society, essays are used by millions of people in order to express their different ideas. The Five-Paragraph Essay formula was originally developed to help retain the efficiency and clarity of the essay. Foley, however, believes that this process eventually separates the student from his or her written expression and should be used only as a first step tool for beginning student writers. Foley insists that the formula blocks discovery, squelches authenticity and undermines the reader's need for coherence. Foley shows that patterns of organization and more natural thinking can benefit the student.

Foley feels that students no longer feel the need to continue thinking about their topic once they have met their quota of three body paragraphs. Foley states, "the prefabricated structure invites students to fill the five slots wit what they already know, thus often depriving them of the pleasure of discovering new ideas," (232). After a student has executed this formula enough times, he or she will not want to stray from it. The formula is comfortable and familiar to them. It becomes imprinted.

Foley contends that in addition to blocking discovery, the Five-Paragraph Essay formula squelches the student's authenticity. Foley states, "filling the structure with the requisite 500 words, they go through the motions of writing, but they seldom create something authentically theirs," (232). Foley knew that students feel much more at liberty to freely express themselves in their personal journals and in their letters to friends, but take on a different identity for the essay. The students'...

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