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“Blog vs. Term Paper” Analysis Essay

Literature becomes more challenging as we advance in school, from short stories and children’s books to hefty novels and Shakespeare. An idea to ease the stress students have has been brought to the attention of many: blogs. Blogs allow students to write to an audience with a more personal twist, instead of just making that A grade. In Matt Richtel’s New York Times article, “Blogs vs. Term Papers,” he reports on both sides of the blog-term paper debate. Although Richtel seems to prefer blogs, presenting both sides of the debate give the audience an understanding of what experts think and why they believe one is better than the other.  

            One of the most important things students get from reading and writing are skill sets. Term papers teach key aspects of thinking, analyzing, and writing, whereas blogs fail to do so. Douglas B. Reeves, founder of the Leadership and Learning center, claims that writing papers is a “dying art,” but proves the point of term papers as better by mentioning that people who do write them have an advantage in “critical thinking” and “argumentation.” Richtel makes the argument that term papers force students to “make a point, explain it, defend it, and repeat it.” Richtel claims that some see this as rigid and boring, and although this may be true, Richtel claims that defenders call this rigidity “pedagogy,” a method and practice of teaching, not “punishment.” Both sides of the debate know that term papers are rigid, but it will help strengthen students’ writing skills for the future.

            Learning to write good term papers can put some at an advantage in future careers. Reeves claims that term papers will help “not only in college, but in the job market.” These critical thinking and argumentation skills that Reeves mentioned are crucial and a “sort of expression” interviewers and bosses are looking for in new employees. Reading increases vocabulary, creativity, comprehension, and the ability to use and identify literary devices. Reeves claims that there are interesting blogs, but that nobody would combine “interesting writing with premise, evidence, argument and conclusion,” meaning that blogs fail to show these techniques. This will help students not only land a job in the writing field, but jobs where any sort of writing is needed to be made, which is most jobs. Cathy N. Davidson, a retired English professor at Duke University, is the main defender of wanting to replace the term paper with blogs. She had her students write letters, life stories, essays about chosen careers, and blog posts about materials read in class. Career-wise, her decision of wanting to discard the term paper hurt her because this irritated her colleagues and got her kicked from the writing program. Do these short writings really show students’ ability to write, or just their natural voice?

            Many argue that blogs are a way to destress students and let them “play to [their] passions,” as Richtel claims Andrea A. Lunsford, professor at Stanford University, is trying to do. She claims that students are producing something “personally rewarding and valuable” instead of “only [producing] a grade” with term papers. In an earlier paragraph Richtel asks the question of “why punish with a term paper when [blogs] are, relatively, fun?” Although now, following Lunsford’s opinion, Richtel states that teachers can use both term papers and blogs, but the debate still stands that term papers or blogs can be better than the opposing.

When Davidson left Duke, she started to tutor at a community college. One time she remembers is when she told a student who was given an assignment to follow the rules his teacher has provided him with because she did not know if he would have passed the class if he had done it her way. She hated teaching him “bad writing.” Following the guidelines provided by teachers is far from bad writing. We are all taught how to write different ways based on the education each of us receive.

            Defenders of both the term paper and blog make good points. Richtel does a great job at not creating too much bias when presenting the arguments for why some think the term paper is better, as there is evidence mentioned before that Richtel is more of an advocate for the term paper. Although Richtel focuses on Davidson the most, it works in creating the main point of the article because she is the main supporter of the blog. Richtel not blatantly mentioning his stance on the debate strengthens the article by giving experts their say in why their position is valid.

Work Cited

Richtel, Matt. “Blogs vs. Term Papers,” The New York Times, 20 Jan. 2012,

Writing Process- Draft

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