Monday, January 17th, 2022

The essay: a genre that teaches you to think

We learn to think while we learn to express our thoughts. Let’s talk about the basic educational tool that is designed to do this.

The custompapers essay is a genre with a long and interesting history. In literature, the names of Montaigne, Kierkegaard, Emerson, Camus, and many other thinkers are associated with it. Unlike the story or novel, which traditionally belong to the realm of fiction, the essay is also an essential educational tool.

When you write an essay, each of your thoughts should be self-contained.

An essay reflects your personal ideas about the world-even if you’ve gained them only by intensely reading and recycling other people’s thoughts. With essays, you learn to associate facts and statements from different sources, build an argument, and make your knowledge clearer and more systematic. 

The creator of the essay genre is considered to be Michel de Montaigne, whose “Essais” do not look like preconceived essays, but as if they fix a thought on the fly.

In many universities in the United States and the United Kingdom, the essay is used as one of the main methods of assessment and teaching (especially in the liberal arts and sciences departments). The essay, as a rule, is the result of the student’s work throughout the course in the chosen subject; it is what professors use to evaluate the success of their charges. 

In Russian higher education the essay as an educational tool has not yet established itself definitively, although it has gained some recognition. The literature and Russian language essays that every generation of Russian schoolchildren is working on bear little resemblance to essayism. In the Soviet years, this genre was deeply ritualized and completely unfit to develop independent thinking. In many ways, these problems persist today.

Below we publish an excerpt from the book “The Brain. Fine Tuning” by Peter Wybrow, director of the Institute of Neuroscience and Human Behavior at the University of California. It will help us understand why essays are so beloved at Oxford, and why the genre remains an essential part of the educational process.

The British economist John Maynard Keynes, who received his mathematics degree at Cambridge in 1904, believed in the moral significance of education – that the primary social role of universities is to develop intellect and character by sharpening students’ thinking and social skills. If this foundation is present, Keynes believed, then the particulars of any chosen profession are much easier to master.

Related Resources:

An essay: what is it? 
How to write a scholarship essay 
How to write a proper essay on a given topic 
How do I write an essay for U.S. universities? 

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