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ERIC Number: EJ818267
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2008-Nov
Pages: 6
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 0
ISSN: ISSN-0013-8274
"EJ" Extra: The Five-Paragraph Essay and the Deficit Model of Education
Brannon, Lil; Courtney, Jennifer Pooler; Urbanski, Cynthia P.; Woodward, Shana V.; Reynolds, Jeanie Marklin; Iannone, Anthony E.; Haag, Karen D.; Mach, Karen; Manship, Lacy Arnold; Kendrick, Mary
English Journal, v98 n2 p16-21 Nov 2008
There is a seductive "commonsense" logic to two opinion pieces that have appeared over the last two years in the "Speaking My Mind" section of "English Journal": (1) Byung-In Seo's "Defending the Five-Paragraph Essay," which appeared in the November 2007 issue; and (2) Kerri Smith's "In Defense of the Five-Paragraph Essay," which appeared in March 2006. These two educators are not merely giving their personal views but, the authors would argue, are also speaking the minds of many teachers. They speak a logic that is important to challenge precisely because this logic perpetuates the commonsense myth that the five-paragraph theme is an actual "form," and that "forming" in writing is simply slotting information into prefabricated formulas rather than a complex process of meaning-making and negotiation between a writer's purposes and audiences' needs. In this article, the authors express their concern as for "what" the five-paragraph essay teaches students and with "what" the five-paragraph essay does "not" teach them; with what students learn to do by writing in this format and with what students will "not" learn because of the continued persistence of this mythic form. The authors' concern is for the students who are subjected to this form and spend their intellectual lives constrained by its insistence. (Contains 4 notes.)
National Council of Teachers of English. 1111 West Kenyon Road, Urbana, IL 61801-1096. Tel: 877-369-6283; Tel: 217-328-3870; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Opinion Papers; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Elementary Secondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A