Project 101 Essays have become a major part of a formal education. Secondary students are taught structured essay formats to improve their writing...

Project 101

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Essays have become a major part of a formal education. Secondary students are taught structured essay formats to improve their writing skills, and essays are often used by universities in selecting applicants and, in the humanities and social sciences, as a way of assessing the performance of students during final exams. The concept of an "essay papers" has been extended to other mediums beyond writing. A film essays is a movie that often incorporates documentary filmmaking styles and which focuses more on the evolution of a theme or an idea. A photographic essay is an attempt to cover a topic with a linked series of photographs; it may or may not have an accompanying text or captions.

Expert Answers
Lorraine Caplan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Stacy, I see you are new to enotes, and don't necessarily know the conventions of the discussion board.  What you have to say is interesting, and I would like to talk about it.  But for the discussion board, you need a question or something in the nature of a writing prompt that allows people to understand how to respond. 

As to your statement about photographic and film "essays," I agree that these, like writing, can convey an idea or tell a story in a completely legitimate and effective way. In fact, it seems to me that assigning such work, or allowing it as an option, allows a teacher to provide an opportunity for another kind of intelligence to shine.  Generally, the greater choice a student has in modalities, the more motivated he or she is to engage in an assignment.

I am reminded of an assignment my son had last year, in which he had to create a narrative based on a story published in the 1930s.  The story was nothing but a series of checks.  The dates, the recipients, and the signatures on the checks in and of themselves told a story.  Think of ballet, which tells a story, or those wonderful shadow boxes that do, too. There are many ways to engage and assess students with meaningful projects, and I am sure that photography and film can and should be considered essays. 

Lori Steinbach eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The written word is the form of expression least open to interpretation, which is why it's used as the standard method of evaluation.  There's a time and place for more of a portfolio approach to college admissions; art schools and other fine arts institutions regularly use them to evaluate student performance and creativity.  However, when a college acceptance board needs to know how you think or feel about a subject, the written word (i.e., essay) is the most accurate and accessible.

mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In concurrence, interpretive art is certainly a means of expression.  Yet, there are often problems with communication since viewers may not understand what the author wishes to convey.  However, the written word can be much more precise and succinct, and for this reason, the essay should continue as the best measure of explication or analysis.

lrwilliams eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I agree that art or photography could be used to convey a story or to allow a student to express ideas about a subject. This can be done at times as an alternative to the formal written essay. Nevertheless, I feel that all students should be taught how to convey their points through formal writing.

linda-allen eNotes educator| Certified Educator

What is your question? Are you asking us to debate whether a film or a photograph can really be considered an essay? You need to be more precise and provide more detail if you want an effective response.

epollock | Student

I am not sure if you have a question concerning essays or the use of essays.  Do you mean college application essays or classroom essays? If you could be more specific, it would greatly help out others.