Summary of Unteaching the Five-paragraph Essay

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In an excerpt of Unteaching the Five-Paragraph Essay," Marie Foley reveals how the Five-Paragraph Essay formula contradicts writing instructor's most basic goals. Foley shows that the formula deters from generating individual thinking. In today's society, essays are used by millions of people in order to express their different ideas. The Five-Paragraph Essay formula was originally developed to help retain the efficiency and clarity of the essay. Foley, however, believes that this process eventually separates the student from his or her written expression and should be used only as a first step tool for beginning student writers. Foley insists that the formula blocks discovery, squelches authenticity and undermines the reader's need for…show more content…
The formula is comfortable and familiar to them. It becomes imprinted.

Foley contends that in addition to blocking discovery, the Five-Paragraph Essay formula squelches the student's authenticity. Foley states, "filling the structure with the requisite 500 words, they go through the motions of writing, but they seldom create something authentically theirs," (232). Foley knew that students feel much more at liberty to freely express themselves in their personal journals and in their letters to friends, but take on a different identity for the essay. The students' character, personality, and convictions are locked away until given the opportunity to free write.

On a more serious level, coherence is undermined while being one of the writer's and reader's most basic need. "The problem is not that the Five-Paragraph formula produces incoherence but rather that it limits students to a superficial, predictable level or coherence," (232) states Foley. This allows for students to throw any three liberally related ideas together for the body of the essays. Once students fabricate a thesis statement that elucidates for their three ideas, the students feel they have mastered structure. Foley states, "To be asked merely to enumerate three aspects of any topic relieves the student of the need to probe relationships... it robs them of any motivation to do so," (232). Juxtaposition is not

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