The Problem With Writing Paragraphs

“Writing paragraphs and essays makes me ill,” says Wendy, a high school student and newly immigrated citizen to Canada. Writing in English takes some work and Wendy was very anxious about her writing skills. Most students are inadequate in their writing skills to communicate effectively and to make themselves clearly understood. They usually begin with weak paragraph structure and move forward to poorly written essays. Moreover, the amount of practice actually done in class is too little for them to master the basic skills of writing. Wendy’s problem is two fold as she has a second language barrier as well as the lack of adequate training in the subject.

At first, the task of overcoming the basic fear of writers block and empty pages may seem too much for some high school students to face. Their intellectual and imagination faculties are usually in very poor condition. Early in their elementary school training when daydreaming was a student’s favorite pastime, the notion was scolded out of them with threats of punishment. However, that little faculty happens to be one of the most important gems in the writing process. For example, I was working with a grade five student the other day and asked him to write a simple paragraph about his favorite food. You know, he could not imagine himself eating it and therefore could not describe the feeling. Wow! He had lost his ability to pretend and visualize. Imagination is the most important creative element in writing.

As students continue through elementary school and move on to high school, their imagination skills and writing skills get worse. Why? They have been told to stop daydreaming or face severe punishment. They have been told to face reality and stop fantasizing. They have been so thoroughly disabused of creative imagination and so robotically trained to write about other peoples’ works that they often cannot develop their own ideas on given topic. Moreover, they lack the tools necessary to help themselves over this frustrating hurtle.

By the ninth grade, most students are apathetic about writing. This, I discovered when I interviewed dozens of students coming to my tutoring center for help in the subject. For example, many would just frown or sneer as soon as I mentioned, we were going to learn about paragraph or essay writing. Their attitude was so bad I had to coax them with gentle persuasion just to pick a topic. It looked hopeless!

Something must change to reverse this trend. We cannot keep turning out apathetic students and then as if by magic expect them to become transformed when they reach senior high. The grade twelve-diploma requirement in English demands that a student write a short essay on a given topic in class as part of their final exam. College and university entrance expect these skills as mandatory enrollment requirement and test each student. Without a solution, the average student does not have any hope of passing.

Can High School Students Expect To Become Good Essay Writers?

Essay writing begins with language arts basics training, imagination stimulation, and organized grammatical structural guidance. All valuable structures begin with a strong foundation, plan and quality support. The subject of essay writing is such a structure and its goal is effective communication.

Students need a step-by-step instructional format that proofs them up against confusion, lack of imagination and the inability to argue an opinion successfully. The purpose is to get the agreement from the reader and a favorable academic response by the teacher. The writing levels are too low for the average high school student and require a new method of tutoring. Students can learn to become good essay writers, even great essay writers with a new method of instruction.