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She explains that later on, however, students need a looser structure that flows more with the way they’re thinking, especially if they go into the humanities.
She wants students to read a variety of essays, and pay close attention to structure.
The students can then develop ideas in a writing workshop.
Five-paragraph essays are not the majority of what Zarins sees, but she points out that she teaches medieval literature, not composition.
Regardless, she thinks high school teachers should steer clear of this approach, and instead encourage “students to give their essays the right shape for the thought that each student has.” Kristy Olin teaches English to seniors at Robert E. She says sometimes educators have structures that don’t allow for ideas, content or development to be flexible, and instead of focusing on what’s actually being said, they become more about “the formula.” “It seems very archaic, and in some ways it doesn’t really exemplify a natural flow,” Olin says about the five-paragraph essay.
He believes creative students can work their imagination into any structure.
Allen, the retired English professor, stresses that even if writing isn’t argumentative, it always needs some structure. She still stands by a piece she wrote in 2014; in it she said she was “being really brave” by stating she believes in teaching elementary school students “the good old fashioned” five-paragraph essay format.
But because the five-paragraph essay structure dictates that there be three body paragraphs, students might try to “push everything” to those body paragraphs.
Olin does think, however, that the five-paragraph essay format is useful for elementary students, adding that fourth grade is when the state of Texas starts assessing students’ writing in standardized tests.
“It doesn’t exemplify how we talk, how we write or how most essays you read are actually structured.” Consider paragraphs.
They should be about one subject and then naturally shift when that subject changes, Olin explains.