Why on earth are we still writing essays?
Is it social reality? Once we graduate, will we ever find ourselves in the situation where our supervisor/manager/mom asks us a difficult question and gives us 3 months to prepare an answer, write it down, with a word limit, 1inch margins and font size 12? I don’t think so. And once the paper is written, the euphoria of having it done makes us think that the whole world will read it, but it’s not, it is read by an audience of 1 (our lecturer, who knows far more than we attempt to know already), and then it’s then lost in the cyberspace of TurnItIn.
I have come to the end of my master’s course, which is typically 100% coursework based, and found myself asking; how much have I learnt? If I think back to my first essay (it was about torture and whether it could be justified), I could not recite the essay – nor any references I used – only the vague explanation of my conclusion. Why? Because I never opened my mouth and read the words aloud, nor did I discuss the topic or share my opinions with anyone. Why all that effort to write it down? We are taught to think for ourselves and develop our own opinions, but we don’t. Our opinions are formed by reading books about the subject matter. The thought process is not pure, it has been sabotaged by books we are told to read.
Why does this annoy me? Surely it is better than an exam you’d say. No, I am fed up with writing essays. Some people are politically oppressed, some economically oppressed. Me – I’m grammatically oppressed. What is with writing in the 3rd person? I tell you what, it is refreshing to write this article, using I, me, you, us, we. It’s real, it’s the way we speak. Why write our opinions in the sense of some other person? To merely learn the pretentious language of books – and we wonder why kids are choosing to listen to music and play games instead of reading! What is wrong with saying ‘I think that’? I think that the style of essay writing is nonsense; it achieves nothing but confusion, and the over-use of the synonyms function.
I must confess: I wrote my last essay without reading a single book. I simply went back to the library afterwards and found someone who had said something similar in the past to avoid plagiarism. After all, everything has been said. No-one expects us to walk around saying “’it’s supposed to rain tomorrow’ (BBC, last night)”, but we have to play the game. My advice then: don’t just remember what you write about, want to write about what you’re trying to remember writing. Good luck.