ever had to write an essay?
Of course you have.
You should therefore sympathize with the following cynical look at our educational system, appropriately titled ...
The Essay Throughout Your LifeGRADE SCHOOL
You're given a
sheet of specifications: style guidelines for the Five-Paragraph Essay.
Grammar and spelling are thoroughly emphasized.
You are told to write a Five-Paragraph Essay on one topic from a book you're reading in class, citing the book as a source. As the book was read in class and the material was thoroughly discussed, everyone's paper turns out the same. Students with good grammar and spelling get A's. Everyone else gets C's.
You are told to write a Five-Paragraph Essay on a book you're supposed to be reading for class. A topic is assigned for you. You end up reading just as much of the book as necessary to answer the questions, and come up with all of the supporting arguments you need off of the top of your head. Students with good grammar and spelling get A's. Everyone else gets C's.
COLLEGE ENTRANCE EXAMS
Five-Paragraph Essay on one of the following topics: (1) Which has made a
bigger difference in your life -- mozzarella cheese or hydrochloric acid?
(2) What letter of the alphabet is the most interesting and/or useful?
(3) If you could flip at random to any page in your World History
textbook, and look up a person who you could claim to us would be
interesting to talk to, who would it be?"
supreme delight, there are no more Five-Paragraph Essays. To equal
regret, you find out this is because they've been replaced by
five-page essays, assigned on seemingly random topics just
closely related enough to the source material to make you read the entire
book in a panic.
the professor says: "Write eight to ten pages by Monday on one theme from
our discussions of the last three weeks."
to write 20 pages by the end of the quarter on whatever topic you've
happened to be herded into between your struggles with TAing and
late-night burger-flipping. There are no class texts, so you quote
Nietzsche, Plato, St. Athanasius, William Blake, and two of the
lower-division student essays you're reading as a TA. The paper ends up
eight solid pages of quotes and twelve pages of unjustifiable
You're told to
make it at least 30 pages, with a thorough bibliography, page numbers,
twelve-point double-spaced Helvetica Oblique type, a nicely bound cover,
and a partridge in a pear tree.
OUT IN THE REAL WORLD
You're given a sheet of specifications. Grammar and spelling are thoroughly emphasized. The boss never notices whether your project actually has any content; what's important is that you follow instructions to the letter.
And you find out that, after all, the Five-Paragraph Essay did prepare you for your future.
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