‘The Age of the Essay’ challenged my ideals in regards to the educational system that I know. For the entirety of my high school life, my teachers told me that the ‘formula’ to a good essay was an acronym known as ‘TEEL’.
Every paragraph would have a…
I remember going through numerous sheets of paper just like these ones below when structuring my essays for assessment.
The body paragraphs would be sandwiched between an introduction and a conclusion (which wouldn’t present any new information and would generally just be a rephrased version of the introduction).
However, in this reading Graham suggests that an essay is really ‘something you write to try to figure something out’. You should start with a question instead of a statement and see where the concept takes you, even if the end point isn’t a definitive answer. This concept contradicts the emphasis generally put onto essay writing; I was always taught that everything had to ‘come back to proving the point’ and had to defend your argument. The reading made me think about how I write essays – I seem to always decide on an argument to persuade the audience of before even putting pen to paper (or fingers to keypad). Here Graham discusses the benefits of writing an essay for you, more so than readers. Although it is important to have in mind that someone other than yourself will read the piece, the power of the essay lies in the simple expression of words – sometimes just writing things down helps to clarify and form ideas.
So maybe its about time, not only I, but the general educational society reassessed our ‘learning strategies’… even if it is just acknowledging that there is more than one way to write an essay.