I’ve had the rug ripped out from under me (sorry for the passive voice).  The metaphorical English essay structure rug, that is.

My whole English career, I’ve been told to write 5-paragraph essays.  Start with an introduction and a thesis, but don’t actually talk about the elements of literature that you are going to reference.  Then three body paragraphs that help to prove the thesis, and a conclusion that shouldn’t say the same things as the introduction, but shouldn’t introduce anything new either (not confusing at all).

And now writing a 5 paragraph essay mires my grade in “mediocre.”  Apparently it’s boring.  The only problem is that it’s not like teachers are asking us to drop this simple structure from our large repertoire, they’re asking to stop doing the only thing we’ve ever been taught.

Naturally, they’ve waited until our senior year to let us know that almost everything we’ve been taught about essay structure is irrelevant.  But now what?  I know what it is that teachers don’t want, but have no idea what they’re looking for.

At this point writing an essay becomes a leap of faith.  A great risk.  I can break structure, sure, but the real question is, will it end up being what my teacher wants or something they find far worse than boring and mediocre?

I can safely assume that the first couple times I muster up the courage to go off-book and try something new, it might not work.  I might get a D or even a F.  Most high schoolers, myself included, are more concerned with their grades than actually learning (a product of college pressures and living in Fairfax County).  I’m just not willing to risk a bad grade trying to perfect a type of writing that I probably won’t need to do ever again.

Adjusting each year to a new teacher is one thing, but demolishing our foundation is another.