Take it to Kourt: Hamilton vs. Five-paragraph essay

Take it to Kourt: Hamilton vs. Five-paragraph essay

Kourtnee Hamilton, Copy Editor

As far as I can remember, (approximately back to fifth grade) English teachers have always taught that when writing an essay, it needs to be five paragraphs. Five. No more, no less. Poof! There you have it, the perfect organization for an essay of any topic.

Well folks, we have been fooled for years. To be successful writers in college, (kind of important) we must learn to abandon this bad habit of limiting ourselves to the standard introduction, three body paragraphs and conclusion setup and learn to broaden the spectrum.

Really, the problem starts with the thesis. Most students tend to write what is called a three-pronged thesis. In other words, a claim is made, followed by three supporting statements (prongs) that prove the validity of that claim.

The writer then proceeds to spend the entirety of the essay attempting to prove that their claim is correct. Each paragraph repeats the thesis, the only variation being the support to the writer’s claim. Then, to end with a bang, they repeat the thesis in the conclusion, essentially sounding like a broken record. All of these characteristics of the five-paragraph essay are, simply put, the high school norm for writing a paper. News flash: for most students college is the next milestone in life after receiving a high school diploma. Hence, learning to write, or rather think on paper, is high on the priority list to succeed in a college class.

In the sixth edition of “Writing Analytically,” a textbook used in ACP composition, authors David Rosenwasser and Jill Stephen describe the five-paragraph essay as a “meat grinder that can turn any content into sausages.”

Rosenwasser and Stephen say that the arbitrary method hinders thinking because it makes writers wary of digging deeper into the meaning behind the evidence that they use to support their arguments.

Subconsciously, they are scared out of their minds of finding something that does not fit with the original plan, causing the five-paragraph organization to fall to pieces.

This fear is what causes the meat grinder to make its sausages. The writer is so wrapped up in fitting their writing into five paragraphs that the result is a tightly condensed packaging of what could have been a beautifully insightful, juicy steak of writing.

When using five-paragraph form, students do not take the time to sit on their thoughts and wait for them to hatch into their full potential.

With the lack of effort from the brain, any paper becomes redundantly repetitive and straight up boring to read, unless the art of making words pretty has been mastered. Unfortunately, making the paper pretty to read will not earn a passing grade

College level writing is difficult to achieve, even with the abiltiy to seem intelligent on paper. Often, this “intelligence” comes from the wonderful synonym tool in Microsoft Word. Even then, the synonyms do not always have the same intended meaning as the original word.

Next time you sit down to write a paper, try not to get caught in the meat grinder; hatch those ideas and let them spread their wings.