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It's absolutely liberating to break free from the (very American) 5 paragraph essay; that's more of a learning tool, really. And you don't need to write a five paragraph essay on the GRE; I've consistently gotten 97% with my own versions, and I stopped writing in 5 paragraphs long ago. It's all about content, synthesis... The 5 paragraph is a start, but we should be taught to shed it when we're ready!

It is taught for a reason though. Having some kind of introduction and thesis is important. Overly formulaic, etc it is, but understanding what it's supposed to be teaching is pretty important.

Totally. I wish that was just the start of the pedagogy, though... It my beginning comp classes (if I ever have enough time to start teaching again) I want to teach the five paragraph essay for two weeks, (simple) programming or technical writing as composition for another two weeks, and other forms of essay writing (ie. not getting to the final point until the end after a long, winding description, or a lyrical essay format).

As a side note, poets make great technical writers because they can be so economic with language. There is something to engage here.

Just to back you up in your throwaway point, I'm not from America, and had never heard of the five paragraph essay structure before.

This was not due to a lack of essay-writing during my education...

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