of Dr. Steven L. Berg

The Five Paragraph Essay

Today I had lunch with a former student who expected to pick up a letter of recommendation from me.  I knew he needed a letter, but didn’t realize is deadline until I asked when he needed the letter.  After lunch, I began to whip out the letter which was easy to write because it was not the first letter I had written for him.

As I was writing, I realized that I had immediately fallen into the five paragraph essay format.  I had an introductory paragraph that set up the three body paragraphs.  Then there was a conclusion.

I often tell students that the five paragraph essay format is not elegant, but it is functional.  And, if they are under pressure, that is the way to write quickly.  I guess that I have internalized that idea.  More importantly, the format got me out of a jam by allowing me to quickly write a decent letter of reference for a very good student.

After spending much of the day putting together teaching materials on worldview, I appreciated ending my day with this cartoon posted by Sally Webb Eilersen in Facebook.

Sally wrote, “Eric [her son] sent this to me. Take a minute and look. It’s funny, but also a pretty good statement about perspective … Enjoy!”


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