Besides teaching college literature courses, I write creatively, and my debut young adult novel comes out in September.
I am joining the debate on the five-paragraph essay in response to because I think high school and college teachers can work together and set up our students for success—and the five-paragraph essay is setting them up for a really tough time in college.
First, the five-paragraph essay constricts an argument beyond usefulness or interest.
In principle it reminds one of a three-partitioned dinner plate.
However, when eating from a partitioned plate, a diner might have a bite of burger, then a spoonful of baked beans, then back to the burger, and then the macaroni salad.
The palate satisfies its complex needs for texture, taste, choice, and proportion.
It would be better to cut one’s toenails, because at least the repetitive task of clipping toenails results in feet more comfortably suited to sneakers, allowing for greater movement in this world.
The five-paragraph essay, by contrast, cuts all mirth and merit and motion from ideas until there is nothing to stand upon at all, leaving reader and writer alike flat on their faces.
Even the most gifted writer cannot sound witty in a five-paragraph essay, which makes one wonder why experts assign novice writers this task.
High school students suffer to learn this form, only to be sternly reprimanded by college professors who insist that writers actually say something.