This book is intended for Students, teachers, especially those who teach in middle school or junior high. It is an introduction to essay writing, a book that will help teachers help students write better essays. Although I have not taught at the high-school level, I believe that this book might be of assistance to many teachers there as a review of the basics—just don’t expect it to be the “go to” source for the upper grade levels.
Students often do not understand why they have to write essays. Middle school students ask if it is to acquire a skill needed in high school (“Preparation H” syndrome); high-school students believe it’s a skill required in college. As teachers, our task is to foster inquiring minds. The skills required to write an essay are the same skills required to write a speech, to prepare a persuasive argument, to prove a point, to explain an idea—and on the list goes. If we can help our students acquire these skills as we “teach” the essay, we will have assisted them in accomplishing truly valuable life skills. In my experience (a phrase often repeated in the pages that follow), essays have a bad reputation among students.
If we can teach essay writing in a way that engages and challenges them, we can change their opinions about essays and writing. Poet Donald Hall once said, “The best writing is like the letter O. But the writer only writes the letter C. It is the reader who fills the gap with his or her own experience.” I am not suggesting that this book is the “best writing.” I am suggesting that once you have read it, a task remains. Your task, dear reader, is to fill in the gaps for your students. Massage the information to suit your needs, mold the materials so that they are appropriate for your classes, and make it your own.