To Write or Not to Write: Should We Get Rid of College Essays?


This morning, I woke up to a heated discussion on the WPA (Writing Program Administration) listserv around Rebecca Schuman’s latest article, “The End of the College Essay,” on Slate. Essentially, Schuman thinks instructors hate grading college papers just as much as how their students hate writing those papers:

So you know what else is a waste of time? Grading these students’ effing papers. It’s time to declare unconditional defeat.

She suggests the end of papers in “required courses,” one of those (as mentioned in her tweets) in which Engineering students need to take to fulfill a core requirement in their major. She also recommends bringing back St. John’s-style tribulations (oral-based evaluations) to avoid subjective grading.

Since I cannot repost the content from the emails, I have curated some responses from the Twittersphere, starting with Schuman’s announcement of her new article.

Then she dropped the F-bomb.

So, fellow teachers of English and composition, what are your opinions on Schuman’s proposal to eliminate essay from the humanities?

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