In Defense of Essays

Martha Schulman, Gwen Hyman, Inside Higher Ed, Feb 19, 2016
Commentary by Stephen Downes

Most of the writing I read is poor. This is equally true of academic writing and business communication. Part of it is because students graduate without good writing skills, but I would agree with the authors that "'Bad' writers aren’t the problem; bad assignments and ill-trained and underpaid teachers are." Writing is not "one that some people are born to do and others are not." It requires skill and practice, and it requires most of all (to my mind) an understanding of how to think as well as to convey those thoughts. True, the five-paragraph essay form is a pedagogical disaster, but what replaces it? I argue for a version of the inverted-pyramid style supported with logical structure and reasoning, as I once explained here. Image: PIO Chronicles.

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