Formulating the middle school essay


Scroll art: Thajudheeneh [CC BY-SA 3.0 (] Calculations: Popular Science Monthly Volume 44 [Public domain]

The biggest issue I had with my middle school education was the dreaded essay. The teacher would always assign us some difficult, narrow subject and expect some great flood of written material.

Man, middle school was one of the worst experiences of my life. Apparently everyone’s bodies didn’t get the memo that their insides were changing, so I was stuck with a bunch of energetic midgets. On the other hand, there were the select few kids who decided that mixing steroids in with their lunchables was the way to go. Everyone had at least one giant-sized kid in one of their classes.

Incidentally, those classes always had at least five other “helpers” along with the teacher. I’m pretty sure that the only purpose they actually served was to stand a chance against the giant kid if he went into “roid rage.” (With the combined strength of the students, helpers and teachers, we would be able to hold the kid until animal control arrived).

We had eight class periods, too. That’s like eight thirty-minute classes. Just enough time to get absolutely nothing done.

The biggest problem I’ve ever had with middle school teachers is that they either treat you like a child, or they don’t. In other words, some teachers treat you like a complete five-year-old, while others treated you like a grown adult.

In my opinion, the latter is far worse.

Imagine being thirteen years old and having a teacher grade you with extremely strict requirements because they’re not going to “treat you like a child,” and you should know that “you won’t be able to get help from your parents in college.”

Okay chief, slow your roll.

Even high school prep is a little much for these pipsqueeks. Also, whaddya mean my parents ain’t gonna be helping me with college? They may not shed a nickel for my funds, but I’m sure they won’t object too much when I end up living in their basement.

Now that’s what I call help.

Let me just say that so far in high school, I don’t think my work has ever been scrutinized like it was in those middle school years.

The biggest issue I had with my middle school education was the dreaded essay. The teacher would always assign us some difficult, narrow subject and expect some great flood of written material. I was once told to write a whole essay about chicks, like the baby chicken kind. What can I write about chicks? Small, yellow, fluffy? There isn’t that much to say. (That’s a haiku, in case you were keeping track). In the end I would always put in a ton of arbitrary nonsense to hide all of the other nonsense and make it look like a real paper. Thankfully, I always had my little tricks to fulfill whatever requirements I needed to fill.

When it comes to writing crappy middle school essays, a favorite trick of mine was cramming a crap ton of words in to satisfy the word count. Ah word count, sweet word count. Word count, word count, word count. If I just go for quantity, I know I can create as many run-on sentences that do not really make sense and I can break words in to more parts so that they will take up more space and I will break up all contractions into two words rather than one.

Another trick I really loved was my friend thesaurus dot com. It’s a great tool to turn all of my basic one-syllable words into gangling scrawl that I don’t even apprehend. It can really take a humdrum, middling manuscript and revamp it into a disquisition of tremendous savvy. I would receive the occasional praise for these abstractions, which usually sounded something like this:


Teacher: “Ooooooh, Elias I love this word! What does verisimilitude mean?”

Elias: “Erm, yes. It means…. Exactly what it sounds like..?”

Teacher: “Could you use it in a sentence?”

Elias: “Um, while Joe was waiting for the train, he slipped in some verisimilitude.”

Teacher: “Oh my, we have a poet among us!”

Elias *under breath*: “What a complete snollygoster.”


Those were my primary, go-to tricks for getting the schoolwork out of the way, but there was a third work around I would use in tighter situations: ridiculous excuses. More often than not, I ended up spending more of my time at home doing very important things than my homework. This led to a lot of procrastination and missing of due dates. I was left to rely on nothing but my looks and wit (no comment). As it turns out, your grandparents, pets, and other assorted family members can only die so many times per teacher (still more than you’d think, actually), so I could only resort to those excuses for super-emergencies. In the end, I had to research various amendments, laws and religions to come up with the perfect excuses. From conscientious objector to religious reasons, I was loaded with impeccable excuses.

The one thing I really hated about these middle school essays was probably the conclusions.

Here I’d more or less met all of the requirements for my assignment. I was done; all of my work was complete. I could chill out, take a break. It just doesn’t feel right to end the essay on some random statement, but I never had enough material to fill a whole conclusion paragraph.

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