Urbanski, Shana V. Iannone, Karen D. These two educators are not merely giving their personal views but, we would argue, are also speaking the minds of many teachers. They speak a logic that is important to challenge precisely because this logic perpetuates the commonsense myth that the ve-paragraph theme is an actual form, and that forming in writing is simply slotting information into prefabricated formulas rather than a complex process of meaning-making and negotiation between a writers purposes and audiences needs. They are speaking a logic that makes this damaging mechanistic practice appear to be an acceptable survival technique for overwhelmed, overtaxed teachers.
Follow biblioracle. That just about everyone reading this is well-familiar with the 5-paragraph essay is a testament to why it needs to be retired, and by retired, I mean killed dead, double-tap zombie-style, lest it rise again. The 5-paragraph essay is indeed a genre, but one that is entirely uncoupled from anything resembling meaningful work when it comes to developing a fully mature writing process. If writing is like exercise, the 5-paragraph essay is more Ab Belt than sit-up. They cannot hope to develop unless and until we first undo the damage done. Not really.
In our educational journey, we likely learned some myths about writing. Here we explain why the five-paragraph essay formula is problematic and argue instead that the number of paragraphs in any document—including the argumentative essay—depends on the content the writer is trying to convey. Scroll down to the bottom of this article for a video version of this article.