Commentary: The power of persuasive essays

Jen Cardines

At some point in my 13th year, my parents grounded me for one week. During that time, there was an event that I wanted to attend with my friends, but I knew that I was confined to my house for those seven days.

As luck would have it, my English teacher was in the middle of teaching us a persuasive writing unit, and I was able to use it to my advantage.

Standard five-paragraph form, yes/but statements, strong hooks…you name it, I used it. I presented my essay to my father—who was always the stricter parent—with my persuasive argument explaining why I should be allowed to attend the Friday night social event.

To my surprise, it worked.

I always remember that situation and credit my teachers for giving me the ammunition I needed, not to mention the motivation to write an essay that wasn’t a required school assignment. But it was all for personal gain.

It’s nice to see that students in Southington are also using their writing lessons in the real world, but more importantly, for the greater good. I’ve spent all week thinking about two stories I wrote for last week’s paper, and it keeps bringing up memories of my own persuasive letter to my dad.

When a third grader gets Home Depot to donate carpet for her classroom, you know Southington schools are doing something right. When the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) responds to a ninth grader’s persuasive letter, encouraging her to pursue a career in environmental studies, or when U.S. Senator Chris Murphy takes time from his hectic Washington schedule to acknowledge students for voicing their opinions, I believe the schools should applaud themselves.

Nobody thinks that what they learn in school is going to be useful in the real world, but based on what I’ve witnessed, the power of persuasion and good writing are sure to benefit everyone. Five-paragraph essays may cause eye rolls and groans from students slouched behind desks, but the reward that comes from them can also create smiles.

Students can make a difference with their words. After all, isn’t that what teachers set out to do?

Teachers near and far are getting creative with their lesson plans to engage students and demonstrate how the content they learn is useful.

It is surely refreshing to see young learners get excited about reading and writing, because let’s face it, how often do people hand-write anything anymore? Technology has eclipsed the pen in the last decade, but I’m happy to report that Southington’s schools continue to instill traditional methods in their students.

Jen Cardines is a staff writer for the Southington Observer.

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