Form Versus Content:   Classroom Practices and Essay Requirements 
I discuss the overemphasis of “structure” in college freshman composition 
courses.  By structure I not only mean the specific form of the writing 
itself, but also the specific requirements of the class.  
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It is our job to teach a variety of writing techniques and principles that 
students may adapt to their own style and ways of thinking in order to not 
only produce well-written, thoughtful papers, but may, we hope, even enjoy 
doing it.  We are to introduce the students to as many valid writing methods 
or techniques and skills as we can, and then help them find the ones that 
they work with best.  Fill up their boxes with tools they have been trained 
to use, teach them to recognize quality workmanship, show them gloriously 
varied styles of architecture, and then help them build their own place.  
They are ready to move beyond handholding.  They are capable of understanding 
concepts and principles.  We don’t need to waste their time or ours 
micromanaging their writing “process.”  Each process should be as unique as 
the individuals in our classes.  Also, we don’t need to waste their time or 
ours overly rewarding them for something other than the finished product 
and skill.  We need to step back and remember what is at stake here: do we 
want a student who earns a “B” in the course because he can turn in outlines 
on time and in the correct form, or do we want him to earn a “B” in the 
course because he can actually produce writing at the “B” level?