Today's post is dedicated to all the primary and secondary education teachers in our country. Teaching is such a difficult job, but it is also one of the most important professions in our country.
With that said, I've been doing some education consultation work recently, and the subject of teaching writing can be quite tricky. As an editor, I can immediately spot a writer who has the 'X factor.' Though writing is a learned skill, it is also a talent. I've covered this issue before on my blog.
However, can the 'X factor' be taught? In my opinion, no it cannot. As most writing teachers will tell you, the safest and most conservative way to teach writing is to employ the 5-paragraph essay method. In this method, teachers instruct students to employ a formula to write a thesis sentence. Then, each body paragraph starts with a topic sentence.
In this method, the formula is strict, which allows students to stick to the given topic and to avoid rambling. This is the tried and true way to write an essay.
Nevertheless,in writing testing, a typical 5-paragraph essay will receive an average(passing) score. Usually this type of essay will not, however, receive the highest score. The highest score is usually reserved for those essays that are creative, written well, and emanates the writer's voice.
The problem with these two separate scores lies in the fact that the structure of the essays vary greatly. A simple, 5-paragraph essay is very structured, but a creative essay may not follow any specific formula.
Not every student can write a creative essay, and that's okay. Teachers know which students have a 'knack' for writing. Teachers also know which students struggle with writing. It is necessary for teachers to individualize instruction based upon a student's skills and capabilities.
Sometimes I come across teachers who want all of their students to write creative, intricate essays, and unfortunately, this confuses students who struggle with writing. If a student does struggle with writing, then it's perfectly fine to teach that student how to write a formulaic essay. After all, an essay with purpose and structure is the basis of technical writing.
In summation, teachers should encourage students who have a talent for writing. Allow those students to use their creativity, let their voices shine through the essay, and break the conventional norms. On the other hand, teachers should also encourage students who struggle with writing. Present those students with the 5-paragraph essay, and allow them to write a structured, simple, essay that sticks to the topic. Once the student masters that formula, then the teacher can improve upon areas like support, voice, and elaboration.