Summary: The 5-paragraph essay: it is frequently derided, but hard to avoid. This collection explores the critique of the 5-paragraph essay, and considers how we could move beyond it to more creative and authentic forms of academic writing.
Professional writers tell of their efforts to overcome it; college instructors beg secondary teachers to banish it; and everyone seems to think if defines what the ‘essay’ is.
Few forms have had such opprobrium heaped upon them as has the 5-paragraph essay. And yet, it endures. Perhaps it endures only in the school context, but that context is extensive enough to ensure that most students in our schools will encounter it; some will master it.
So, you’ll want to think and talk more about the 5-paragraph essay.
Beginning with the provocative “Writing Essays by Formula Teaches Students How Not to Think”, the pieces in this collection take up the critique of the 5-paragraph essay—which has nothing to do with the having of 5 paragraphs—and then suggest ways to expand our thinking about the essay as a form that might allow for more robust, and certainly more interesting, academic writing in our classrooms.