Thursday, July 23, 2009

Knives and guns

Met a new set of surrogate kids. They've been sent to me because they've plateaued out at a particular grade in GP and we're trying to get them up to the next level.

Impression we have of them is that they have writing ability, but their content knowledge is... idealistic, and they tend not to plan out their essays despite constant reminders to.

Made the following analogy for them: not planning the essay is like bringing a knife to a gunfight. Knife and blade fighting can be beautiful to watch -- kung fu movies and Hollywood swashbucklers have turned it into an art form -- but unless the duelist is capable of finding an opening and taking full advantage of it, he's dead before the fight begins. That's because the essay question isn't dancing around with a blade. The question encapsulates a complete argument in just one short sentence, hence, it's a sniper's bullet aimed straight between the eyes.

The essayist has no time to make an aesthetic out of the answer. The sniper has to be taken out cooly and efficiently. That requires a bit of planning. And there, if the kids are looking for it, is the beauty of the GP essay.

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