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The Journey Is Everything

Teaching Essays That Students Want to Write for People Who Want to Read Them

Redefining the essay as a more authentic writing practice.

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"In the electric, pulsating world around us, the essay lives a life of abandon, posing questions, speaking truths, fulfilling a need humans have to know what other humans think and wonder so we can feel less alone."
—Katherine Bomer

Sadly, many students only know “essay” as a 5-paragraph, tightly structured writing assignment that must check all the boxes of a standardized formula. How did essays in school get so far away from essays in the world?   Katherine makes a powerful case for teaching the essay as a way to restore writing to think—that it is in fact necessary for students’ success in college and career. “Essay helps students write flexibly, fluently, and with emboldened voices,” she writes in The Journey Is Everything, “qualities they can translate into any assigned writing task in school or in life.” She argues that the close reading of essays fulfills the recommendations of state and national standards, while practice in essay writing leads to better academic and test writing. More importantly, “Essay gives its author the space, time, and freedom to think about and make sense of things, take a journey of discovery, and speak her mind, without boundaries.”

Don’t students deserve the chance to develop their own topics, discover their own writing voices, and learn to structure prose organically, according to the content?  Katherine gives you tools, strategies, and activities to bring a unit on more authentic writing into your practice.  Rediscover the power of the essay to bring out students’ true thinking—their true selves.  Because after all, the journey is everything.

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