So today I took a stand...

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Zachh
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So today I took a stand...

Postby Zachh » Fri Apr 24, 2009 9:19 pm UTC

P.S.S.A.; The Pennsylvania System of School Assessment. My entire school career I've had to deal with these tests. They are the putrid sack of filth that hangs from the ass end of the public school system dragging it further into an septic tank fulled by the ass drippings of No Child Left Behind.

In other words, it's a test that hinders the entire educational process. And today I said no more. I'm a senior and I truly believe that I was given a sub par education, I had to seek out many things myself in order to learn the subjects and hobbies that I enjoy; most notable writing.

English teachers have suffered the worst when it comes to P.S.S.A. because they are forced to teach copious amounts of grammar ( that quite frankly is just unnecessary) and teach a state mandated curriculum that is old and outdated. Nothing is worse then the style of essay writing that we are forced to do.

It's called 1-3-1 style writing, but I like to refer to it as faggotry. One introductory paragraph stating your thesis and your points ( depending on the type of essay ), three body paragraphs that support your thesis, and one conclusion paragraph that restates and sums up everything you just said.

If you write like this for a scholarship application, SAT, college level essay any-fucking-thing else you will be either failed or laughed at,but most commonly a combination of both.

Fortunately there is a light at the end of this long dark tunnel, I'm in 12th grade and seniors do not need to take the P.S.S.As which means I could for once write like I'm supposed to and I got my chance two weeks ago.

Film/AV Class; the assignment was to "Write and essay about your favorite movie" that is a direct quote. I was so overjoyed, I picked my movie "Dr.Strangelove" and I just went to town for days. I pretty much explained it scene by scene, related every line to the time period and extrapolated to present day affairs. Wrote about how Kubrick was showing the lunacy of the era and how we have not learned from our past farces and mistakes and probably never will. First two days was a decided to doing a rough draft. I wrote and rewrote for hours asked some of my teachers' opinions and when I was finally happy I went to office max and bought some really nice paper and a new ink cartridge for my Cross C-Series Carbon Black Selectip Pen and took two hours making my final draft.

I was so proud I was the a culmination of many years of having a passion for writing and it was the best I had to offer. Sadly it was all for naught....

When we received the papers back I was shocked to find that I had a 0/100 written on the top of my paper, I flipped through the paper frantically and not one paragraph marking or even a note I just simply got a 0% for no apparent reason. I ask my teachers and she told me that the paper what unacceptable for school standards. I was taken aback, there were students who had written things along the lines of two pages double spaced essays that received 85% or higher. She looked at me almost smugly and said "The essay was not in 1-3-1 format, it's not acceptable" in raged I stormed off (childishly) and went to the principal's office and explained my situation. He called the teacher in and convinced her that I should be allowed to rewrite the essay and she agreed.

At that point I had decided that I've taken enough of this bullshit. "NO!" I exclaimed loudly " There is nothing wrong with my essay, I want that one graded P.S.S.As do not apply to me anymore." My principal told me that it's school policy and that's how I need to write the essay, so I asked my teacher what my quarter grade would be if I got a zero, and she sharply said "F" and I told her that I could live with that.

I felt like a badass for a split second but quickly realized that I had already passed for the year and got accepted into college so this really was not a big deal. My point is that there is something really wrong a educational system that discourages creativity and promotes mediocrity, I know a lot of you who frequent this forum are out of school and you should be thankful it has really gone downhill and I as a product of this am legitimately worried about the future of the United States.

tl;dr: BAWWWWWWW SKEWL!


Anybody else got awesome stories about how they took a stand and rightfully so?
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Re: So today I took a stand...

Postby keeneal » Fri Apr 24, 2009 11:48 pm UTC

Good for you for sticking up for something you believe it, although I'm not sure that it's fair to blame 1-3-1 on PSSAs, and to blame PSSAs on NCLB...

1-3-1 is a good tool for teaching people who can't figure out how to write. They won't learn how to write well, but they'll learn to write. Forcing you to use it (or any other writing style) once you learn how to write is stupid, I agree. That said, 1-3-1 has been around longer than PSSAs. I remember taking PSSAs in 3rd and 5th grade... those were before the Bush years, and therefore before NCLB. If (when? please make it be when) NCLB is rescinded, PSSAs will still be around, I guarantee you.

That said: you were totally right in your beliefs and justified in your actions, and I Approve of You as a Good Person.
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Re: So today I took a stand...

Postby podbaydoor » Fri Apr 24, 2009 11:58 pm UTC

Dude, that's pretty outrageous. I agree with your stand, though I might have handled it differently.

My school taught "Jane Schaefer method" for the AP English tests. It's another formulaic approach useful for forcing inexperienced students to write their essays coherently...but fortunately for me my teacher recognized that I wasn't an inexperienced student and I always blatantly ignored Jane Schaefer when I turned in my essays, and she graded them normally.
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Re: So today I took a stand...

Postby Kizyr » Sat Apr 25, 2009 12:02 am UTC

I had a simple stand. At my high school graduation, there was a tradition of a "benediction" that was a thinly-veiled student-led prayer. I was on stage (I was giving the valedictory speech, and anyone giving a speech or faculty was on stage). So when they asked everyone to stand up for the benediction, I remained seated. (Our graduation was also held in the Grand Ole Opry, and this was a large school, so there was something like a crowd of 8000+ or so who saw this.)

The next year, they quit doing the "benediction". I don't know if it was related to me or not, though.

But generally, I did really like my school. I never had much of a reason to take a stand on anything; this was the only thing I came across that got me to stand up--well, sit down, rather.

Zachh wrote:It's called 1-3-1 style writing, but I like to refer to it as faggotry. One introductory paragraph stating your thesis and your points ( depending on the type of essay ), three body paragraphs that support your thesis, and one conclusion paragraph that restates and sums up everything you just said.

If you write like this for a scholarship application, SAT, college level essay any-fucking-thing else you will be either failed or laughed at,but most commonly a combination of both.

Yes, 1-3-1 is an atrocious style, and you do have to un-learn it once you get into college.

However, you can still use something very similar for SAT-II and GRE tests (both administered by the College Board). On the GRE, if you write a 1-4-1 essay (with a few other elements) then you're at least guaranteed a 5/6 on one of the writing sections. KF
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Re: So today I took a stand...

Postby Gentlelady » Sat Apr 25, 2009 12:07 am UTC

We had a similar test when I was in school. The T.A.K.S (Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills) started off as just an assessment that they gave the students to see how well the teacher's were doing. It snowballed into something completely different. All of the curriculum became based off of this test and in order to graduate from high school you had to pass it. The schools around here teach nothing but how to pass it. But the Texas Public Education System is one of the shittiest in the US, it's ranked at 43 at the moment.

I fought my AP Senior English teacher through the entire year because she would give me C's on my essay's. Even though I used to do other's essays for some extra cash and they would end up with A's. I walked out on her a few times because of it.
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Re: So today I took a stand...

Postby mrbaggins » Sat Apr 25, 2009 12:47 am UTC

Op: Personally, I think you sound like a little kid that's had it's candy taken away. Sure, you may be able to write a better essay than a standard 1-3-1. However there is no reason for you to go outside of the school's very obvious policy (that you apparently knew about) without at least asking your teacher first. You would probably find that simply asking them first would have made everything fine and you could have flown through. You will also find, if you pursue a college/university degree, that the way you need to write your essays depends entirely on who you are writing them for. There is nothing you can do about it, so you had best learn to accept it. One lecturer may want 1-3-1. Another might want what is essentially an exposition, and you will have no way of knowing unless you ask, or until you get the first one back with very low marks.

Likewise, you shoot down the people who only wrote two pages. When you are writing essays, length is not everything. In fact, with a topic such as yours, two pages would probably be ideal, 3 a maximum. The fact that you "pretty much explained it scene by scene, related every line to the to time period and extrapolated to present day affairs" is, frankly, terrifying. First, because if you really did that, you wrote way too much. Second, because unless the way the movie relates to current affairs is why you like it so much, it was entirely off topic.

English teachers have suffered the worst when it comes to P.S.S.A. because they are forced to teach copious amounts of grammar ( that quite frankly is just unnecessary)

I'm intrigued as to why you think this is so. I personally think it's a complete load of bollocks that within two years, my educational department (I'm a high school teacher, by the way) has mandated that people submitting assignments written like "1s upon a time thr was a person with thr ball. he told his m8 2 w8 4 him but he cldnt" as if it were perfect English. You've obviously been taught at least most of the grammar that people need in life, however you yourself have made several mistakes. Admittedly, in your case, they don't detract from the meaning of the text, but nonetheless, they are there. How you can expect to enjoy writing to any extent without formal knowledge of the underlying framework simply baffles me.

I'd really like to see your essay that you wrote. Hell, I'll even pick it apart for you (Not an English teacher, but I know several if you would like a more formal assessment).
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Re: So today I took a stand...

Postby natraj » Sat Apr 25, 2009 12:49 am UTC

Zachh wrote:It's called 1-3-1 style writing, but I like to refer to it as faggotry.


Anybody else got awesome stories about how they took a stand and rightfully so?


Well, this one time this person on the forums felt the need to punctuate their story with a really obnoxious homophobic slur, and I stopped to point out to them that that kind of bigotry is extremely uncool.
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Re: So today I took a stand...

Postby Gojoe » Sat Apr 25, 2009 12:54 am UTC

MrBaggins. The thing is the teacher did not even look at the essay. Yes his essay may of been too long. But the point is, the teacher did not try to give him ANY feedback on the essay. The teacher did not attempt to help him in anyway. If the issue was your essay was too long, the teacher should of said so. But the teacher said the problem was using that stupid paragraph structure.

School should not be about getting a piece of paper saying you passed. School should be about teaching. Who cares if they did not stick to your strict structure guidelines. You should be checking if the student understood the question/essay topic, and did they answer the question to the best of their ability.
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Re: So today I took a stand...

Postby keeneal » Sat Apr 25, 2009 1:15 am UTC

Gojoe wrote:School should not be about getting a piece of paper saying you passed. School should be about teaching. Who cares if they did not stick to your strict structure guidelines. You should be checking if the student understood the question/essay topic, and did they answer the question to the best of their ability.


I agree with this statement, except for the last clause. It doesn't matter if they tried, it matters if they're right. Now, in some (I would even say most) classes, effort should be taken into account, or at least a lack of it should be punished. However, that should be built into the course's structure, not into the evaluation of a student's work. I get good marks on papers because of their content and how well that content is presented. If the instructor knew I threw it together the night before and took that into account, it would be conceivable that papers worse than mine would get better marks. In what kind of a world does that make sense?
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Re: So today I took a stand...

Postby mrbaggins » Sat Apr 25, 2009 1:24 am UTC

Gojoe wrote:MrBaggins. The thing is the teacher did not even look at the essay. Yes his essay may of been too long. But the point is, the teacher did not try to give him ANY feedback on the essay. The teacher did not attempt to help him in anyway. If the issue was your essay was too long, the teacher should of said so. But the teacher said the problem was using that stupid paragraph structure.

School should not be about getting a piece of paper saying you passed. School should be about teaching. Who cares if they did not stick to your strict structure guidelines. You should be checking if the student understood the question/essay topic, and did they answer the question to the best of their ability.


And one of the fundamental premises of the stuff they teach you at school is that you need to do what you are asked to. In the school, the op was asked to create a 1-3-1 essay. He did not.

I agree that NO feedback is wrong. I would have given feedback, and a heavily penalised mark.
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Re: So today I took a stand...

Postby Belial » Sat Apr 25, 2009 1:32 am UTC

MrBaggins wrote:And one of the fundamental premises of the stuff they teach you at school is that you need to do what you are asked to.


That is true. Our school system was formulated specifically to crush innovation, squelch independent thought, and create an obedient, competent, but not-too-bright workforce.

I'm not being a conspiracy nut or anything. It's right in the correspondences of the people who formulated the damn thing.

Personally, I don't see disobeying that structure as a bad thing...

HOWEVER

Zachh wrote:It's called 1-3-1 style writing, but I like to refer to it as faggotry.


In the future, the community does not take kindly to homophobic bullshit. Take it elsewhere.
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Re: So today I took a stand...

Postby Alpha Omicron » Sat Apr 25, 2009 1:36 am UTC

Disclosure: I went to a smallish rural highschool in southern Ontario. With the exception of two or three skilled teachers, the entire place is a steaming heap of underfunded shit.

Zachh wrote:English teachers have suffered the worst when it comes to P.S.S.A. because they are forced to teach copious amounts of grammar ( that quite frankly is just unnecessary) and teach a state mandated curriculum that is old and outdated.
I wish my English curriculum had included grammar, instead of just literary analysis. It's much harder to learn another language when you don't know how yours works. Grammar, punctuation, and spelling are skills that are sorely lacking in young people.
Zachh wrote:Nothing is worse then the style of essay writing that we are forced to do. It's called 1-3-1 style writing, but I like to refer to it as [douchbaggery]. One introductory paragraph stating your thesis and your points ( depending on the type of essay ), three body paragraphs that support your thesis, and one conclusion paragraph that restates and sums up everything you just said.
They taught me this as well. I think it's necessary, because without the structure, students for whom writing is not a strong suit will have a very hard time even getting started. I do agree that teachers should give some freedom to students who have demonstrated they can handle it, though.
Zachh wrote:If you write like this for a scholarship application, SAT, college level essay any-fucking-thing else you will be either failed or laughed at,but most commonly a combination of both.
I can't really say, having not done any of these essays, but I strongly suspect that their content is (or certainly should be) more important than their structure.
Zachh wrote:She looked at me almost smugly and said "The essay was not in 1-3-1 format, it's not acceptable" ...
That was definitely unacceptable.
Zachh wrote:My principal told me that it's school policy and that's how I need to write the essay ...
Why in the fuck does a school need to have a policy about essays? Do they have a policy about what styles of painting they will accept in a visual art class? I can see the teacher or the curriculum having a policy, but not the school. You should have asked them to produce the page in the school's policy documents that prescribed that structure for essays.
Zachh wrote:My point is that there is something really wrong a educational system that discourages creativity and promotes mediocrity.
Our terrible quality of education in North America is serious business. If you're in the States, and can participate in school board elections, do so.
Zachh wrote:Anybody else got awesome stories about how they took a stand and rightfully so?
Dozens. I have a habit of escalating things when I know the Man is wrong about something. I usually lost. It turns out that the best thing to do in highschool is jump through their hoops, then maybe send them a letter detailing why they are all failing to fulfill their duties as teachers, administrators, &c. (Note that I have not actually done this, but probably should.)
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Re: So today I took a stand...

Postby Bubbles McCoy » Sat Apr 25, 2009 1:47 am UTC

What exactly is helped in teaching film review in sticking with a generic essay format? There's nothing particularly helpful to such a narrow definition of "acceptable" in this circumstance, education isn't about "doing what you are asked to do" its about, well, educating. Doing what you're told is generally necessary to ensure that you learn the material and develop certain skills, but 1-3-1 essays aren't in of themselves a desirable skill they're simply a means to an end (coherent writing). The question at hand is did he produce an essay that adequately and clearly demonstrates film analysis; formatting is only useful insofar as to creating something of appropriate depth and length.

P.S. sorry about this being somewhat redundant to Belial's post, but I still think I add a little that's worth saying

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Re: So today I took a stand...

Postby thatguy » Sat Apr 25, 2009 2:05 am UTC

This style of writing is called the "5 paragraph" structure here, and I never really saw a problem with it. However, the teachers I had were quick to point out that the 3 body paragraphs were just a rough guideline (implied to be for the weaker writers), and that as long as you answered the prompt and formulated ideas logically and cleanly, the actual paragraph formatting didn't matter.

I think 3 main points about a given subject is a good rule of thumb, and obviously you add more points and use paragraphs to subdivide those, but if your school demanded literally a 1-3-1 structure, I see your outrage. If you didn't follow 1-3-1 in that you had a long-ass rambling body and no conclusion, I see the teachers point: that's poor composition. I mean, you have to write, not just dump text onto a page.

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Re: So today I took a stand...

Postby GuitarFreak » Sat Apr 25, 2009 2:11 am UTC

I fucking hated those PSSAs. I bullshitted my way through the writing part and still got a pretty good score.
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Re: So today I took a stand...

Postby mrbaggins » Sat Apr 25, 2009 2:19 am UTC

I still want to see the essay in question >.>

Relevant quote:
I never once let schooling interfere with my education.

I'm not being a conspiracy nut or anything. It's right in the correspondences of the people who formulated the damn thing.

Personally, I don't see disobeying that structure as a bad thing...

Me either. But I would ask before doing it. Just like I would if I were in a job position and wanted to do something differently to company guidelines. And the OP clearly didn't.
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Re: So today I took a stand...

Postby rath358 » Sat Apr 25, 2009 4:10 am UTC

I honestly wish I had the guts to do that. I would just complain and cry myself to sleep, and maybe redo the thing. There is no way I can see myself dropping the entire course. I applaud your bravery. The current school system does seem to be bullshit, and that is regrettable. Maybe I should apply to somewhere in the UK for college...

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Re: So today I took a stand...

Postby Zachh » Sat Apr 25, 2009 4:47 am UTC

I have to clarify a few things..

Baggins your right I should have asked that I will admit but I stated in the original post that she never specified anything, "Write and essay about your favorite movie." that was the assignment. I guess I assumed and that was wrong of me but try and see it from my point of view, I don't take the P.S.S.As anymore so why should I be mandated to write in the strict format that the test accepts? The tests are tied to funding for the school so I can understand why they push it so hard but I'm no longer a factor. In fact all my other teachers have not required seniors to write 1-3-1 since September 1st. Sociology, AP History, AP English the seniors are not required to write 1-3-1 so I figured there was just a pattern.

Look; I'll admit that there was a lot of emotion behind my little rebellion because it was something I worked at. I'm a good student I never rocked the boat and I just figured this one time I could do something I enjoyed rather then just pass the assignment like I've done for the past twelve years. I cannot recall the last time I was asked my opinion about a topic,issue,idea anything frustration just got the better of me.I suppose that's life and I should make this a learning experience but I can't help to think of my favorite authors like Vonnegut and Fitzgerald, they knew the fundamentals backwards and forwards but I wonder when the wrote their novels and stories how much of the rigor was in the forefront of their minds?

Not even applying to myself anymore; why are we so in a rush to make robots instead of thinkers? Friedman is right, the World is flat and America is slipping off the edge. I'm not saying that my essay was anything mind blowing but I just don't understand why so much fuss was made even more so how the officials and teachers in my school act when somebody tries to express a little bit of individualism through their work....I'm convinced that she didn't even read it, what an insult.

As a final though thanks for putting it in perspective, perhaps a dose of reality was what I needed, but if you'd like to know that kind of school system where dealing with Google "Northeastern PA schools+ FBI investigation", I'm in the Piston Area school district.


P.S. Sorry about the Faggotry comment did not mean bad by it but noted and it won't happen again.
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Re: So today I took a stand...

Postby Rakysh » Sat Apr 25, 2009 5:29 am UTC

I can see where you're coming from. I think asking the teacher would have been better, but yes, a 1-3-1 is certainly constricting. At my school in english, it's

1) Intro
2) Argument for
3) Argument against
4)Crush Argument Against
5) Conclusion

which can get a little wearing, although recently it's a lot more free form. Also, ALL paragraphs should take the form of Point, Evidence, Explanation. Actually, that is one of the most sane things about doing GCSE's- in history, for example, we were told we had to conclude a certain (IMO, untrue) conclusion to get the top marks, even though the conclusion was essentially a matter of opinion which had no bearing on the rest of the essay. I chickened out of putting what I really thought, which I feel a little ashamed about now.

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Re: So today I took a stand...

Postby psychosomaticism » Sat Apr 25, 2009 5:30 am UTC

Just out of curiosity, what essay style did you use? I didn't think there was this much hate for the 1-3-1 and its derivatives; it's just a simple essay style, useful when you just want to make a point, write something small, etc.

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Re: So today I took a stand...

Postby GuitarFreak » Sat Apr 25, 2009 5:35 am UTC

Zachh wrote:I have to clarify a few things..

Baggins your right I should have asked that I will admit but I stated in the original post that she never specified anything, "Write and essay about your favorite movie." that was the assignment. I guess I assumed and that was wrong of me but try and see it from my point of view, I don't take the P.S.S.As anymore so why should I be mandated to write in the strict format that the test accepts? The tests are tied to funding for the school so I can understand why they push it so hard but I'm no longer a factor. In fact all my other teachers have not required seniors to write 1-3-1 since September 1st. Sociology, AP History, AP English the seniors are not required to write 1-3-1 so I figured there was just a pattern.

Look; I'll admit that there was a lot of emotion behind my little rebellion because it was something I worked at. I'm a good student I never rocked the boat and I just figured this one time I could do something I enjoyed rather then just pass the assignment like I've done for the past twelve years. I cannot recall the last time I was asked my opinion about a topic,issue,idea anything frustration just got the better of me.I suppose that's life and I should make this a learning experience but I can't help to think of my favorite authors like Vonnegut and Fitzgerald, they knew the fundamentals backwards and forwards but I wonder when the wrote their novels and stories how much of the rigor was in the forefront of their minds?

Not even applying to myself anymore; why are we so in a rush to make robots instead of thinkers? Friedman is right, the World is flat and America is slipping off the edge. I'm not saying that my essay was anything mind blowing but I just don't understand why so much fuss was made even more so how the officials and teachers in my school act when somebody tries to express a little bit of individualism through their work....I'm convinced that she didn't even read it, what an insult.

As a final though thanks for putting it in perspective, perhaps a dose of reality was what I needed, but if you'd like to know that kind of school system where dealing with Google "Northeastern PA schools+ FBI investigation", I'm in the Piston Area school district.


P.S. Sorry about the Faggotry comment did not mean bad by it but noted and it won't happen again.


Pittston eh? I'm from nanticoke :D

Also, I heard about the superintendent there. Not surprising with all the corruption in our area.
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Re: So today I took a stand...

Postby dalahäst » Sat Apr 25, 2009 6:34 am UTC

Don't worry, California does this too. I'm homeschooled but still have to take state tests and such. The person who coordinates the program has told us stories of weird things like that.

There's a writing test here, you do one in 4th grade and one in 7th grade. I was told by the person who coordinates the program that, once, 4th-graders were asked to read a short story for it and then discuss the appropriateness (or lack thereof) of the title. I'm sure the question wasn't phrased that way, but anyway… The kids who tried to do the smart thing and write an essay about the whole story that ties it in to the title as part of the conclusion and makes mention of it in the introduction got 2 / 4 and 3 / 4, while the kids who just wrote one or two paragraphs about the title got 3 / 4 and 4 / 4.

We're expected to follow the same 1-3-1 format here, but since I have teachers (my mom, and the program coordinator) who know better than to give you crap about writing differently, I can write essays that are as long or short as they need to be and get good grades either way. I've written longer ones that are 6 and 7 paragraphs, and shorter ones that are 3 and 4. Sometimes they don't really need a separate conclusion, and that's OK. I'm done with the state writing tests for now, so I use whatever format is sensible.

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Re: So today I took a stand...

Postby ameretrifle » Sat Apr 25, 2009 7:11 am UTC

Oh GOD I hated that essay format. They never called it 1-3-1 here, but it was still law. For a long time, I resisted it, because I thought it was an idiotic way to write. Then, they put me in a remedial writing class. It wasn't that much longer before I learned to suck it up and write what they wanted, at which point they let me out. But I resented the hell out of them. What the hell am I doing using the past tense? I still resent the hell out of them. I had to turn in work I despised, which made me decide that there was nothing school could teach me about writing, ever. I suspect I will grow to regret that even more than I do now.

Now, did it improve my writing skills? I don't know, and probably never will, since I don't have any samples of my writing before and after the five-paragraph dreck. It wasn't until the very last test of 6th grade that I managed to turn in a paper that both followed the five-paragraph style and didn't make me want to go curl up in a ball in the corner and die of shame. That one I got a perfect score on. It was a nice vindication.

Even if I was just being stubborn, which I doubt... they enforced it way too strictly. The scheme they taught, there were exactly 25 sentences (you could maybe fudge that by a couple, but it was a REALLY big risk and highly discouraged), and every sentence had its place. I can list them, provided I spoiler for length.

Spoiler:
1. Everybody [prompt].
2. I once [prompt].
3. I think that [position on prompt].
4. I think that because A, B, and C.
5. Now I will tell you about A, B, and C.

6. One reason [prompt] is A.
7. A is true because 1.
8. Also, 2.
9. Finally, 3.
10.That is why A.

11-15: Repeat 6-10, substiuting detail B and three (not four or two) new subdetails.
16-20: Repeat 6-10, substituting detail C and three new subdetails. (And remember to use Transitional Phrases! That always impresses the readers!)

21. [Restate prompt again]
22. [Restate position on prompt]
23. [Restate A, B, and C]
24-25. Snappy, creative conclusion that leaves the reader with a smile!
No, I'm really not exaggerating, I swear. I remember once getting a 2 (D) because I wrote about three of my favorite books, following all the other rules for once, when the prompt said I should write about my favorite book, singular. Unable to answer a prompt because it doesn't apply to you (eg, I didn't do anything on my summer vacation!)? Lie. Make something up. That was the answer. You did not alter the prompt EVER. I felt terribly ill-used.

*cough* Anyway. Reckless or not, I've got to say... HELL YEAH, BROTHER, ROCK ON! :mrgreen:

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Re: So today I took a stand...

Postby Magic Smoothie » Sat Apr 25, 2009 7:36 am UTC

I must be having an awesome education, since none of MY teachers have ever been that draconian about the 5 paragraph format. They actually WANTED you to say "Now I will tell you about...?" My English teacher would knock off five points for that.
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Re: So today I took a stand...

Postby dalahäst » Sat Apr 25, 2009 7:37 am UTC

Transitional Phrases™ seem to be overemphasized everywhere.

That rigid 25-sentence structure is insane. Restating the prompt is OK if you do it once or twice, but making the prompt itself seem like the subject of the essay is generally a good way to make it sound bad. I also will avoid self-references at all costs, such as "this essay [explains/talks about/etc.]", and writing in the first person when the subject of the essay is not me (your "now I will tell you about A, B, and C").

I agree, absolutely no "I will tell you about" or other things that have the writer as the subject when the writer is not the essay's subject. You are there to give information, not to talk about yourself.

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Re: So today I took a stand...

Postby Gellert1984 » Sat Apr 25, 2009 8:03 am UTC

Essay formats are useful for learning tools, but shouldnt be forced on a student for a test. Can anyone here who is employed in management imagine reading a report done in 1-3-1? and taking it seriously?

When I were a lad, all of (crap) ten years ago (I feel old now) we were required to write essays in our English language classes on random subjects using a variety of formats as a learning tool, but when it came to our GCSE's and relevant course work we were expected to formulate our arguments intelligently and cohesively. Usually this meant falling back on Rakysh's style, though replace 4 with 'other/alternatives/reccommendations' that information which does not fit into a structured argument for or against.

Later during my A-levels I studied Business and IT, and we continued to use Rakysh's modified style, but section 2 and 3 had there own summaries. At times 4 also had a summary depending on whether it was necessary. This became neccessary, our class was small, only five students finished the course, we ran a small enterprise (in-house all profits to charity) arranging all school trips as if they were a business. At times we would enter the classroom and a group or individual who were arranging a trip would be required to report on their progress, the summaries built into our essays were of great help during these inpromptu board meetings as well as later when completing our coursework a well written summary could be copy and pasted with very little editing.

My point is, an essay format wont fit every occasion, you need to use your brain to find a structure that works for each occasion, that structure may need to evolve even as you write, you may even need to abandon that formula as the nature of your work shifts, it may become neccessary due to time constraints to write your essays and reports in a modular fashion, allowing paragraphs to be interchangable between a report and its corresponding essay.

Rakysh, may I ask for details regarding your stated GCSE history summary? IIRC when I did my GCSE's, we could reach any conclusion we desired, so long as we prove it with fact and without ignoring contradictory facts forcing you to reach a preset conclusion has an air of brainwashing to it that is somewhat disturbing (unless its killing jews is wrong, cos killing anyone is wrong).
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Re: So today I took a stand...

Postby Rakysh » Sat Apr 25, 2009 8:59 am UTC

Certainly. It was coursework on America in the twenties. We had about five different factors of the roaring twenties- racial discrimination and immigration, the economic boom, women's liberation, prohibition and gangsterism, and agricultural depression and something else- I can't remember which. The question was "Which of the factors do you feel is most responsible for the twenties being roaring?" The conclusion my teacher informed us we had to reach was that no factor was more responsible than any other, and that if we didn't she would not be allowed by the mark scheme to give us A*'s. Obviously racial discrimination had nothing to do with the twenties being roaring, but we had to argue that it did. My argument on that one was complete bollocks, something about job competition, but apparently it worked as I got 100%. I've nothing against jumping through hoops- there are certain skills everyone needs- but when the hoops are silly, then it's pointless.

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Re: So today I took a stand...

Postby Gellert1984 » Sat Apr 25, 2009 9:17 am UTC

Well I dont know much about 20s USA, but this does strike me as an odd topic to force a conclusion from, well done on getting 100% I've found that as you get older the hoops not only grow sillier but also become fuzzy around the edges.
Last edited by Gellert1984 on Sat Apr 25, 2009 11:52 am UTC, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: So today I took a stand...

Postby Bearboy » Sat Apr 25, 2009 11:33 am UTC

So if what I've been told is an essay for the last 10 years what is correct or considered "better"?

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Re: So today I took a stand...

Postby Vieto » Sat Apr 25, 2009 12:45 pm UTC

Funny thing, my teachers actually encourage essays that are logically made as opposed to the 1-3-1.

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Re: So today I took a stand...

Postby the tree » Sat Apr 25, 2009 1:19 pm UTC

fun fact: in real life you will occasionally be asked to do something dumb or in an inefficient manner but you wont be in a position to argue, this happens less as you get older and people stop thinking that they know best but it will always happen from time to time. If there's anything school teaches you, it's how to put up with authority figures without tearing your hair out.

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Re: So today I took a stand...

Postby Incompetent » Sat Apr 25, 2009 1:48 pm UTC

What age range are we talking about here? I've heard some bad things about over-conformist education systems (and occasionally experienced some stupid tests myself, though thankfully never in English), but I found ameretrifle's post in particular rather shocking. How is anyone supposed to learn anything from that?

@the tree: I'm beginning to see the logic behind the idea of a school system that basically forces everyone to recite "2+2=5" until they start believing it. Apparently, what our society always needs more of is obedience to authority figures, and employees who don't care if they've been told to do something completely counter-productive as long as they're being paid for it.

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Re: So today I took a stand...

Postby the tree » Sat Apr 25, 2009 2:44 pm UTC

I'm not saying it's a good thing, just that it's going to continue to happen and you can be more productive yourself if you don't drive yourself insane every time your asked to do something stupid.

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Re: So today I took a stand...

Postby icanus » Sat Apr 25, 2009 2:53 pm UTC

Incompetent wrote:What age range are we talking about here? I've heard some bad things about over-conformist education systems (and occasionally experienced some stupid tests myself, though thankfully never in English), but I found ameretrifle's post in particular rather shocking. How is anyone supposed to learn anything from that?
They're not supposed to learn from it. They're supposed to pass their standardised tests and secure the school's funding for next year.

Incompetent wrote:I'm beginning to see the logic behind the idea of a school system that basically forces everyone to recite "2+2=5" until they start believing it. Apparently, what our society always needs more of is obedience to authority figures, and employees who don't care if they've been told to do something completely counter-productive as long as they're being paid for it.
ah, now you're getting the idea.

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Re: So today I took a stand...

Postby krazykate » Sat Apr 25, 2009 10:19 pm UTC

several people have mentioned that the 1/3/1 essay is a great starting point, but nobody's explained why it's required. It really helps to have a formula to start with and work from there. However, it's the "work from there" part that no teacher seems to notice. If it's supposed to prepare you for real-world or college-level writing, it doesn't make sense to teach and require one formula.


I'm in my senior year in high school and this is the first time my english teacher hasn't required the format. She explained to us that it's a great tool if you don't know how to start, but she encourages us to deviate as much as possible, so long as the essay meets other requirements (length, topic, etc). She's even taught us other ways of going at an essay, like not stating the thesis until the concluding paragraph because it gives you a more neutral sounding standpoint.

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Re: So today I took a stand...

Postby ameretrifle » Sun Apr 26, 2009 12:02 am UTC

Incompetent wrote:What age range are we talking about here? I've heard some bad things about over-conformist education systems (and occasionally experienced some stupid tests myself, though thankfully never in English), but I found ameretrifle's post in particular rather shocking. How is anyone supposed to learn anything from that?
Me, elementary school, roughly 2-6th grade, which ought to be-- 7-11, maybe? I always forget. They probably keep it at LEAST through middle school, though by that time I'd transferred the hell out, so I can't say firsthand. They might loosen it up as students get older, for all I know. But, of course, then you have writing sections on standardized tests... The mere conjunction of "writing" and "standardized" is an obvious bad sign.

As to what you're supposed to learn from it... I suppose it could organize your thoughts. Kids probably have trouble with that. As long as, after a couple years, it becomes only a guideline-- say, intro-2 to 4 points-conclusion-- it could have some use. But that's how it was, granting leeway for the vagaries of childhood memory: don't ever change the prompt, restate everything, don't get away from the structure unless you absolutely have to (and be prepared to accept the consequences if you do), always use your Transitional Phrases, and also, be creative! I can tell you it taught me nothing except to give the teachers what they want, to dread all essay assignments (despite the fact that, in college? Everyone seems to think I'm fantastic at them), and how to turn in work I thought was crap. But keep in mind I may be a little bitter. :D

Ah, school. It's a little scary just how much it influences you; I'm sitting "Indian-style" right at this moment, and I don't think I ever used to sit that way before they started making us do it in kindergarden.

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Re: So today I took a stand...

Postby wing » Sun Apr 26, 2009 12:38 am UTC

Ah, high school. I went to a pretty damned good school (not in PA) and now go to university in PA. We had our own stupid standardized tests, in the form of the MSPAP for high school and middle school students (once in third, once in fifth, once in eighth grades) which was used to determine funding levels and had NO BEARING WHATSOEVER on students directly. Naturally, as this determined state funding, this was THE ENTIRE CURRICULUM in the years leading up to the tests.

They've since added the MSA tests to several grades, which are the bastard child of NCLB and may have some kind of affect on students, I don't know because it came in after I left.

We had the HSA tests in High school - a battery of subject tests which all high school students were required to pass. They fell within your first and second years if you were performing on or above grade level giving you two shots at retaking them. They were only taught-to for the particular subjects for the particular semester (yes, we used the semester system) you were taking the course leading into it. If you failed it, nobody cared and nobody explicitly helped you get better for the next shot (during classtime anyway).

Well, there's one exception to that - there was one vice principal (we had many) whose entire job was to make that test happen - any chance encounter with her usually ended boringly.

That said, the first time I ever heard anything about ANY prescribed writing structure (or even bothered to contemplate the existence of such outside of tight-form poetry) was a freshman year english class at Penn State - a classmate asked "What about 1-3-1 formatting?" and received a solid "WTF are you even talking about? Just write an essay and we'll use that as a starting point to make you a better writer." before firing back with "BUT WHAT FORMAT!>!?!?!?!" and getting shut down with "ESSAY!"


Furthermore, understanding grammar is important. Yes, you will abuse and ignore many rules conversationally, but when writing formally it makes you look like far less of a useless prat. It also facilitates the learning of other languages because English actually has the vast majority of the same structures as many other languages, though we take shortcuts and condense verb tenses and conjugations and such and infer a lot of meaning from context (which is why it's so damned hard coming from an explicit language and learning English)
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Re: So today I took a stand...

Postby Hefty One » Sun Apr 26, 2009 5:41 am UTC

Moral of the story: High School fails

Seriously, if high school has done anything for me it has shown me how to learn on my own because teacher's obviously wouldn't help me in that area.

If only I had used these four years learning instead of going to school...

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Re: So today I took a stand...

Postby Rakysh » Sun Apr 26, 2009 6:12 am UTC

Hefty One wrote:Moral of the story: High School fails


In fairness, your old high school failed. Quite a lot of them are fine.

As to grammar- if I'm reading a piece of writing and I see something obviously wrong, I dismiss it as a typo. If it continues to happen, it will start to get under my skin. I will become enraged and frustrated as every single you're is written as your. If I do not stop reading for my own health and that of all the people around me, I will begin to beat my head against the wall, screaming in incoherent rage at the lack of knowledge which yanks me head first out of any immersion I may have felt, reducing me to a quivering ball of anger.

But seriously, in the forums, bad grammar isn't such a bad thing- just a mild annoyance. If you are planning on writing prose of any length though, then please do make sure you are making sense.

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Re: So today I took a stand...

Postby Alpha Omicron » Sun Apr 26, 2009 6:16 am UTC

Rakysh wrote: If I do not stop reading for my own health and that of all the people around me, I will begin to beat my head against the wall, screaming in incoherent rage at the lack of knowledge which yanks me head first out of any immersion I may have felt, reducing me to a quivering ball of anger.
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