Since the introduction does only include what Post#4 points out--the motivator (or "hook") and the thesis with its component parts, you may wish to begin with a quotation or an anecdote that provides a bit of humor. What about taking a look at Robert Fulghum's All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten, a tongue-in-cheek look at the rules for behavior and profound lessons people learn in even the first year of school.
The above posts are all good points for the brainstorming stage of your essay, and I hope you have added some ideas to your own personal list of what you are going to write about. Help with the introduction, however, is going to depend on some decisions. My advice is to follow these steps:
- Decide which side of the argument you will land on: yes school does help, or no it does not. (Essays covering both the "yes" and "no" often lose focus.)
- Based on which side you choose, make a list of arguments you will use to prove your case (brainstorm). Be general but also provide actual examples where you can.
- Narrow the list from #2 into 3 argument sub-categories. This is how you will organize your essay.
- Now: your intro will include a hook (sentence 1), your thesis (#1 from above) and the sub-categories (#3 from above).
I would actually want to argue that school does not actually prepare you for life. In what other situation are you expected to spend all day in a group with only people who are your age? When will you have to sit behind a desk for vast portions of the day and not worry too much about whether you listen or not? There are so many important life lessons, such as how to relate to a range of different people and responsibility for our own actions, that school doesn't really do a good job of teaching us. If a student turns up late to a class, they might receive a minor punishment. However, if they turn up late to a job, they will probably be fired.
I just found the poem "A Modern Ode to the Modern Schools." I found it somewhat too true. As much as the poem angered me, I found it hitting a little too close to home. The school I teach at has a program which teaches technical trades to select students. As much as I like this idea, find that the student's work in their other classes tends to suffer.
So, in some aspects yes; in other aspects, no.
Well, well, well ... interesting topic; one of my favorite. If you want to pursue an historical slant to the topic, you might include a comparison of how a high dchool education used to prepare students for life versus how it now prepares students for life. For instance, once, students could leave high school and gain employment in secretarial jobs or in mechanical jobs, etc. Of course, those who could avail themselves of the opportunity were prepared for college educations beyond high school.
In our present society, it is virtually impossible to leave high school and attain employment at any significant level, though it need not be so. For example, a high school in Central Maine has a woodworking and construction program whereby students build a house each year--sell it--and even take commissions on others to build, so that they may graduate high school and enter the job market at a reasonable income and prestige level. If you want to pursue this tack, the aim/purpose sentence of your Introduction might read something like this:
The aim of this examination is to place current trends of preparing students for real life in context with historic trends to better evaluate whether American schools do or do not prepare students for real life.
You could also approach the topic has possibly being more or less true at different ages in a student's life. Elementary school topics and activities may not be as immediately applicable to adult life but establish the foundation for later learning. Maybe this could lead to a discussion of the impact of dropping out of school at various levels.
Perhaps you could start with a quote. I like this one, by Tom Bodett: "The difference between school and life? In school, you're taught a lesson and then given a test. In life, you're given a test that teaches you a lesson".
The beauty of this particular quote is that you can use it to support either side of your argument. Bodett clearly makes the case that life and school are closely related, but he does so by pointing out a key difference between the two.
In response to the previous post's "no" points, you could point out that "real life" does include bells, drills, and a lot of the stuff that makes school seem like prison to some students. It's not as if people in the real world don't have to put up with bosses doing things that seem stupid and pointless. So, you could include that in your intro -- you could talk about how school gives you the important skill of learning to deal with what you would think of as stupid and unreasonable people.
So, my intro would be something like
School prepares you for life in more ways than you might think. Of course, you learn all sorts of academic skills and facts that can help you get a job and succeed in that job. However, even the negative things about school are a preparation for life. School teaches you to deal with being forced to do things you don't like at times you don't choose. Even the parts of school that seem dumbest are really preparing you for life.
If you want to argue yes school does prepare students for life, you can focus on key points such as creating a work ethic in students, teaching them how to write and communicate, math for their daily lives, teamwork, scientific basics and what it means to be an American.
If you want to argue that no it doesn't, you can bring up points about how different school is from life as an adult, where there are no bells, no admit slips, no lunch detention and no lockdown drills, not to mention it's difficult for anyone to get a good paying job with only a high school diploma.