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If high-school students and teachers are to succeed with Common Core Standards, the five-paragraph essay cannot be part of instruction. Too many times, this ordinary format is the default mode for expressing thinking in English, in history, in science, in P.E., and even in math. The problem is this format doesn't encourage thoughtful persuasion. It promotes low-level summary that nobody really cares about.

Narrative Essays for ESL Teachers:eslflow webguide

How to write narrative essays for ESL teachers

[tags: Teaching Teachers Education Essays] 1007 words (2.9 pages)

Ignatz, if we're not preparing student for real life, we should just turn off the lights, close the doors, and go home. The five-paragraph essay is useless outside of the classroom. There are so many other ways to teach persuasion--and to persuade.

Short Essay on an Ideal Teacher

Hey Ray, the five paragraph structure teaches you to use evidence to back up your arguments. Something you fail to do in your essay.
You make a bunch of specious claims and then never support them.
Instead we get a rambly mess of an argument that doesn't really go anywhere. The biggest bone I have to pick with you is the old saw you repeat that I keep hearing from curriculum faddists- that this structure is never used in "real life."
This is a bogus argument due to the fact that we do not teach all writing forms to be just used in the work place (this is what you mean by real life- right?) There is a value in learning a writing technique that is used to train good mental habits- such as supporting information with evidence.
Mostly I hate this real life argument because we do use it out side of school. I used to write for newspapers and magazines and used it (in a mutated form) all of the time. Turn to any newspaper page of any good newspaper and you will see an article written with an introduction/ a body/ and conclusion. This method is used in debates and in writing college acceptance essays to name a few formats.
To put down the five paragraph work horse is a fad. Don’t eliminate it, just add it to your arsenal of writing. Students need to know how to structure thoughts and this is one very useful method.
One last point, not teaching this to students sets kids up for failure in college, where - like it or not- they are expected to know this formula.

Well said!Nevertheless, it is difficult to speak out when you know they are looking for younger teachers to take your place each day.

profession of teaching essay

My appreciation for writing is why I am now a college English instructor. I teach Composition 101 and use the five-paragraph essay format because I want my students to understand structure and organization first. I don’t explain Aristotle’s approach until the second half of the semester, when my students have a solid grasp of essay structure and can apply Aristotle’s argumentative approach intelligently. However, I still limit their writing to five paragraphs because the question I always get asked by students is: how many paragraphs or how long does this paper have to be? Sadly, the majority of my students don’t want to go above and beyond what is expected and would rather do the bare minimum. At the same time, I don't want them to ramble on and on and would prefer their papers to be succinct and to the point.

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Although the five-paragraph structure can be considered rudimentary, I don’t believe it’s entirely unengaging and useless. A creative writer can always find ways to make his or her writing more appealing and can still apply all the qualities of a good argumentative paper with this restriction. I’m always up for a challenge and change, so I’ll consider teaching the modern writing style this summer to vary my instruction. I’ll gladly inform you if your theory proves me wrong. :)
Thanks for commenting, Mrs. Aloha and fellow white rhino. It's an easy trap for teachers. It's tough keeping up with longer essays.

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I couldn't agree more—we need to actively teach students out of using the five-paragraph essay, which is little more than an organizational framework. To that end, I have created a framework that encourages original thinking, close reading, and connecting core texts to the contemporary world.

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Writing persuasive or argumentative essays

Deborah, if students need a format, they should learn Aristotle's. They don't need to include all of the sections at once. Useful formats can also be found by teaching genre as form. This way, students can mirror the format of successful pieces and come up with something interesting.

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Ignatz, we obviously share the same criticisms regarding Ray's article. I always enjoy a good argument as long as the reasons are valid! To say that a teacher's approach--in this case, the five-paragraph essay--is rudimentary, unengaging and useless is blatantly ignorant without offering a fair, opposing view. However, I find this discussion rather enlightening and entertaining.