After reading “The Five Paragraph Essay” I was filled with painful reminiscent thoughts TEDDA and Writing Wednesdays in high school. Being locked into that format was so anti-intuitive that I questioned the merit of my English teachers.

“A student or a young faculty member can be punished for major transgressions from the norm, for attempting to move away from what the more established, initiated  members expect.  In order to receive a good grade.”

“As individuals within an academic community become more established and famous, they can become more anticonventional, in both their texts and their lives.”

Ann Johns’ idea seemed to be that you just deal with the rules so that you get your grade. If you ever become a published Author, then you can be as anti-conventional as you want. I sadly have to agree with him.

“yet, her insistence on the five-paragraph essay as a “basic form” for struggling writers creates a needless impediment to composing. Imposing an arbitrary format makes learning  to write just that much harder, and for no good reason.”

This quote from “The Five Paragraph Essay” is what I thought about my English teachers every day as we prepared for the 10th grade Writing Test. I was given the same prompt, “Define Integrity” 7 times that year. There were numerous other prompts I had to write about repeatedly in preparation as they ran out of new ones. I thought it would be over after 10th grade but then they began Writing Wednesdays. It was meant as practice for the 10th grade Writing Test yet all grades were required to participate. I believe that Ann had the ideals of a school system in his writings while John had the ideals of a student, which is why I enjoyed article vastly more.

An insurrection that I was part of happened in 12th grade. Myself, along with most of our grade, made our Writing Wednesday papers as terrible as possible for weeks. We would rant, go off topic, writ lyke wre 3, and not put our names on it. Of course the school hated it, as they had a Friday faculty meeting where they were required to read aloud the best and worst papers that each teacher had collected. The 12th grade teachers had no “best” paper. The school’s way of fixing the problem was getting mad at the teachers. Then the backlash would reach us within days. It didn’t stop and eventually I just stopped turning in a paper. The second semester of my 12th year, I had all 4 classes with the same teacher. She was my favorite teacher and I helped her everyday as a tutor/TA. She also doubled as a teacher and assistant principle. She agreed with me that it was a poor choice to force Writing Wednesday on 11th and 12th graders and did not care that I opt’d out of it. I don’t know how Writing Wednesday is now, but I can only imagine that it was removed.

I feel like teaching writing needs to be less formatted and political. Don’t ask for our opinion on something we don’t care about. I would not enforce five paragraphs, TEDDA (tedda can die), or any but the most basic outline. Prompts are another large detriment to writing. If you are going to assign a prompt then make it vague and not mundane. Better yet, let them write about whatever they want, as that is when you are going to see their creativity mold. A writing teacher needs to encourage the students talents and ideals, not impose their own upon the student. The 7th and 10th grade writing tests only show how good we are at pretending to know what we are talking about, they should be removed as well. My ideas to break and revise rules would probably be glazed over by the school but I do not feel alone among other students from my school. Their entire system was a mess and I think that they knew it.

I’m reminded of my 11th grade English teacher. We got to write an Editorial about anything we wish that we could change at the school. I was deducted 10% because she didn’t agree with me that Ipods should be allowed on campus.


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