Love it or hate it, the five-paragraph essay is perhaps the most
frequently taught form of writing in classrooms of yesterday and today. But
have you ever actually seen a five-paragraph essay outside of school walls?
Have you ever found it in business writing, journalism, nonfiction or any other
genres that exist in the real world? Kimberly Hill Campbell and Kristi Latimer
reviewed the research on the effectiveness of the form as a teaching tool and
discovered that the research does not support the five-paragraph formula. In
fact, research shows that the formula restricts creativity, emphasises
structure rather than content, does not improve standardised test scores,
inadequately prepares students for tertiary-level education and results in
In Beyond the Five-Paragraph
Essay, Kimberly and Kristi show you how to reclaim the literary essay and
create a program that encourages thoughtful writing in response to literature.
They provide numerous strategies that stimulate student thinking, value unique
insight and encourage lively, personal writing, including the following:
The goal of reading and writing about literature is to push and
challenge our students’ thinking. We want students to know that their writing
can convey something important: a unique view to share, defend, prove, delight,
discover and inspire. If we want our students to be more engaged, skilled
writers, we need to move beyond the five-paragraph essay.