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ERIC Number: EJ1003258
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2012-Dec
Pages: 6
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 0
ISSN: ISSN-0013-127X
The Formula Essay Reconsidered
Haluska, Jan
Education Digest: Essential Readings Condensed for Quick Review, v78 n4 p25-30 Dec 2012
Bruce Pirie offers the following criticism about formula essays: "What does a five-paragraph essay teach about writing? It teaches that there are rules, and that those rules take the shape of a preordained form, like a cookie-cutter, into which we can pour ideas and expect them to come out well shaped." He goes on to discredit such essays as being akin to training wheels on bicycles and paint-by-the-numbers kits. Defenders of formula essays can also use metaphors to support their point of view, however. Consider the analogy of aviation training. Flight instructors teach a formalized system for landing: a standard rectangular pattern featuring power reduction, precise decreases in airspeed, and so on. Weather and traffic conditions make every landing different, so the model can be adjusted here and there each time, just as a student writer might do with a formula essay. If flight instructors taught as some English teachers do, student pilots would have to improvise each approach with no customary structure whatever. The sure result would be pitiful clumps of crushed aluminum. Many practical activities, from golf swings to karate, demand formulaic learning. In this article, the author suggests that formula essays can be powerful learning tools from grade school through college, making students think more clearly while they learn how to earn high grades in writing assignments across the curriculum. Teachers need to encourage their use.
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A