Conclusion: What would the world have been like if John Milton was taught format writing? Would he have pushed convention enough to write Paradise Lost? C. S. Lewisâ€™ Narnia Chronicles was innovativeâ€”not regurgitation of old forms. Remember too that most of the apologetic argument of the last century was generated by literary critics, not theologians. Could we be putting apologetics in jeopardy by teaching format writing?
What price are we willing to pay for quick and easy writing progress? What are we willing to lose to gain formula writing? Would we allow someone who could not play the piano teach our children how to play Mozart? Would we hire a math teacher to teach our children calculus who only know arithmetic functions? Are all major curricula companies wrong? Not one of them advocates formt writing.
Home schoolers, format writing (or what I call sophism or format rhetoric) is the antithesis of what we stand. We have instituted a meritocracy; format writing is the very essence of mediocrity. It advances convention, standardization, sterility. There is no life in format writing. There is no truth in sophism/format writing. It is high treason to a theistic evangelical advancing the content of the Gospel. It is anathema to the Christian apologist gropping for fresh metaphors to share Gospel truth with an unsaved world. Its seeds of superficiality grow forests of ho hum pedictability.
Are we sacrificing the next J. R. R. Tolkein or T. S. Eliot on the altar of convenience and of quantification? Sure, format writing is easy to learn. Easier to teach. But do you think Flannery Oâ€™Connor was taught to write through format writing? Do you really want to produce a generation that begins all essays with a ubiquitous generalization about reality followed by 3-5 examples ending with a trite summary?
Let us be frank. In these post-Christian, post-modern times, we abandon Christian rhetoric at our great peril. Jf we embrace format writing, we embrace mediocrity, superficiality, and conformity. We assissinate metaphorical faith. We doom ourselves and our world to live in culture and in reality paradigms that are old and facile. The creative edge of home education may very well die on the sword of convenience. Think and pray about it.
In summary, the following are indicators of format writing:
- Inevitably format writing emphasizes form over content. A format writer is virtually unable to participate in meaningful literary analysis (i.e., profound analysis of a literary piece).
- Format writing is full of broad, predictable generalizations where the writer purports to be a specialist in everything. But in fact the format writer is substantially unable to develop, and much less to defend, any serious rhetorical point. One rarely finds a credible thesis (i.e., purpose statement) in a format writing piece.
- All essays begin and end exactly the same way. Predictability is a sign of inferior writing and endemic to format writing.
- While form essays are marginally acceptable in the late grammar and early dialectic stage, inevitably rhetoric level students are unable to cope with the content-heavy stresses of the rhetoric level.
- Format writers are virtually never published. They are doomed to languish in the throes of predictability and mediocrity.
- Finally, format writing does not consider audience, content, or purpose. It can lead to sterile, inferior writing.