15 December 2016
Thesis vs. Sentences
Stanley E. Fish, an American literary theorist and writer of the article "What Should Colleges Teach, Part 3," asks three questions. (1) “Isn't the mastery of forms something we should learn before college?” (2) “Isn't extensive reading the key to writing?” (3) “What would a composition course based on the method I urge look like?” He focuses mainly on question number three throughout his article. He simply states that creating good sentences is most important in college level writing. Fish explains further on how well written sentences are important to college level writing by saying, “(1) A sentence is an organization of items in the world. (2) A sentence is a structure of logical relationships." "Basically, there is only one thing to be learned, that a sentence is a structure of logical relationships; everything else follows." Fish believes that English teachers in high school should focus mainly on sentence structures and everything else will come along.
I did some research myself on “What is most important to college level writing?” and came to an opinionated conclusion that “thesis statements” are most important. My researches included six data-gathering assignments which were Surveys with other students at The Ohio State University both Newark and Columbus campuses, A tutor observation between a Peer Writing Consultant (PWC) and a student, a follow-up interview with the PWC, an extended definition of “thesis statement”, an annotated bibliography, and also a Professor interview with Nancy Yan, an English Professor at The Ohio State University Newark. When observing a tutor session I realized how much “Thesis Statements” came up and I quickly learned the importance of them.
Fish makes a great point in his article saying that well-crafted sentences make the essay easier to read, however, I disagree on the statement that it is the most important. Sure, grammar and punctuation help the reader understand better, but crafting a thesis statement is the most important to college level writing. Even a decent thesis gives good sense of direction towards the rest of the essay. You can still have a well written essay with bad grammar (so long as the reader understands the main point as well as the thesis). It is nearly impossible to create a good piece of writing without some form of thesis statement. Without a thesis statement the reader has no clue how the essay will play out. In addition, a thesis statement gives the writer a blueprint of the essay. This “blueprint” allows the author to build off the thesis, which will eliminate some time taken between paragraphs to decide what to write next. Finally, a thesis statement allows the reader to understand the author’s claim and invites the reader to take a side. Nothing draws a reader in more than a heated debate topic. When the reader sees the thesis, they see the author view on such topic. If the reader disagrees (or even agrees) then they are more likely to continue reading the essay as well as being interested in the essay. It would be hard to start reading and essay and not knowing whether to agree with the author or not. For example, if you started reading Fish’s article and he did not say in his first paragraph what he was writing for, then you (the reader) would be extremely confused.
Fish makes great arguments concerning that well-crafted sentences are the most important, but I have to disagree based on research I have found supporting that thesis statements are most important to college level writing. Fish’s statements about sentences come in second behind thesis statements in my book.