Analytical Essay The Trouble With Wilderness
For Didion, a notebook was a place to remember how it felt to be her. Our notebooks are the building block of our writerly lives, and I encourage students to use their notebooks beyond our classroom walls.Much has already been written about the limitations of the 5-paragraph essay form.In particular, I’d suggest looking up what college educators Paul Thomas and John Warner have written on the topic. First, I explain, we’ll be keeping our own notebooks throughout the year. “I like to start the year with ‘On Keeping a Notebook’ for a few different reasons,” I tell students.how the thesis statement always goes at the end of the introduction, how thesis statements need three reasons, how first person isn’t allowed in formal essays, how paragraphs are 6-8 sentences long, and on and on. It’s about getting closer—through repeated observation, approximation, and experimentation—to a deeper understanding of the world around us.
It seems like a good compromise: we’ll keep the 5-paragraph essay and just add other types of writing.Shouldn’t that be how we approach writing, how we frame essays?As a way of getting to because of three very specific reasons outlined in a thesis statement found at the end of an introduction.When I ask a follow-up, “What’s the difference between Didion’s essay and the ones you just described? During our discussion, I admit to students that I’ve been guilty of (over)teaching the 5-paragraph essay.” a student says, not-so-quietly, “It’s well-written.” His classmates laugh. I also tell them, however, that the longer I teach, the more I realize that some of my former teaching practices weren’t always best practices, though I didn’t realize it at the time (former students: my apologies). Some students seem surprised to hear a teacher admit such a thing, but it’s all about having growth mindset, right?Ebarvia.” (Side note: Talking about myself—or my teacher-self—in the third person is becoming habit, I fear. We also read Didion’s essay because it’s simply a beautiful piece of writing. And yes, her essay has an intro, body, and conclusion.I find that many high school students often need to be reminded that English is a language , the first hand goes up. Encouraged, more students offer responses: “Structured.” “Rigid.” “Intro, body, and conclusion.” “Thesis statement.” “Argumentative.” “Research.” “Formal.” “School assignment.” I then ask, “How much of what you just said describes Didion’s essay? But Didion’s essay is neitherfive paragraphs, nor is it rigid. It uses a first-person point-of-view, it shifts and moves, wonders and supposes.My own inexperience in teaching students to write sans formula was reflected in the writing they produced. A band-aid may be an easier short-term solution, but it often only covers up the real problem.In the United States, we’ve done a good job at doing the wrong things better, Richardson pointed out. It’s one of those classes that—less than a month into the school year—has already started to feel like a writing community. My AP Lang class and I are in the midst of finishing up our discussion of Joan Didion’s wonderful essay, “On Keeping a Notebook.” It’s a relatively small class: twenty-one mostly juniors who come together at the end of each day to read, write, talk, laugh, and yes, learn.