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I'm looking for all-around advice on this essay (I'm a foreign student, and learning English), but primarily, I wanted to ask is whether my essay is well-organized and clear enough. I mean, the first question to judge the quality of an essay should be “is everybody understand what the author wanted to say,” right?

And also, I think some of my sentences are verbose and lacking expressiveness.

TOPIC: Whether group learning is the best way to learn for every individual?

Real geniuses don't exist. I'm sorry, but those in history said to have the ability to figure out things all by themselves are make-believe. In our journey of discovery, it would not only be helpful to accept assistance from other people, but in some cases, the only path to enlightenment. However, I'm not saying studying with companions is inadvisable. In fact, the time we spend alone practicing and meditating can be equally important.

Studying with partners sometimes illuminates us. When studying alone, learners will often encounter the situation where even though they can tell they're puzzled by something, they aren't fully aware of what it is. This is when experienced learners would immediately realize it's time to seek help. If there are something that can only be found in group learning, it would be the communication between humans. Self-study, be it extracting knowledge from books or from other materials, is one-sided information flowing process, meaning that we only accept facts from the material while our feedbacks are not supervised by it. This kind of process is in sharp contrast with human-to-human communication. In which case, with a series of information exchange and mutual observation, the learners would quickly locate the problem.

But what makes it an issue, is that studying with other people creates more than communication, they also brings reliance — our reliance on others expecting them to tell us every exact step. In discussions, we spend much more time on expressing and understanding, but much less time on meditating these ideas and digesting them. Our understanding always stays on the linguistic layer and never digs into the core. The finial result often is, well, it seems that we've studied a lot, but we've actually learned little. Even though group learning help us deal with problems we cannot work out all by ourselves, it doesn't negate the fact that the productiveness of the time we spend alone in studying concludes the final result. True mastery of a skill asks for independent thinking. Socrates, Plato and Aristotle had been enthusiastic in discussions and even debates, but that didn't make them less of great independent thinkers.

Besides, the proportion of the time we should allocate to study in group is highly dependent on our personality, the subject we are studying and also, our age. People that are good at communication, who feels more comfortable catching information via talking apparently should spend more time in group learning than those who are not so attracted to social activities and prefer reading books quietly. Comparing with philosophy, theoretical physics and pure mathematics, learning languages, sports and special skills may also require more time in group learning . And more energetic younger learners are supposed to spend somewhat more time in group learning than their older counterparts.

As a conclusion, group learning has its irreplaceable importance, but we ought to spend proper amount of time in it. I've stated that working in group creates good atmosphere for communication, and communication helps a lot not only in problem solving but also in motivating every member in the group. Meanwhile, I've also pointed that working alone for meditating and review is equally important because group learning won't help you anything in digesting all the information acquired. Finally, I've mentioned the flaw in the speakers statement that no fixed rule is perfect for everybody, the time we should spend in group learning is highly depend on the particular situation of the special individual.

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Before I make any suggestions, does the format allow you (1) to be so chatty and informal (2) to use the first person? The "I'm sorry" really jolted me, and I want to be certain it's allowed before taking out the blue pencil. –  Lauren Ipsum Apr 14 '11 at 14:48
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@trVoldemort - please follow our critique guidelines by asking a specific question or otherwise providing guidelines for what you want us to focus on in this essay. General "fix my work" questions are off-topic here. You can edit via the edit link under your question to provide more detail on what you would like to have critiqued. –  justkt Apr 14 '11 at 15:21
    
Voting to close since it doesn't follow the guidelines. –  Ralph Gallagher Apr 14 '11 at 17:28
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@everyone: Thank you for reminding, I've updated the post and hope a more specific question can be acceptable. –  trVoldemort Apr 15 '11 at 6:20
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I've edited for all-around cleanup based on OP's clarification. –  Standback Apr 15 '11 at 8:30

2 Answers 2

Your first sentence is great, it grabs the reader. Sadly, it has almost nothing to do with the rest of the essay, which therefore becomes kind of a let-down.

In handling such an abstract concept, you need to concretize it. Think of how it would be done in a magazine: "Bob Smith, a freshman at a well-known Ivy League school, had troubles studying on his own..." Use real-life examples and vivid description to make your point (if you try relying on just being right, you'd be dry as dust).

Beware of falsely specific phases like "irreplaceable" and "highly dependent". They don't mean much and they're a major cause of what reporters call MEGO: My Eyes Glazed Over.

Finally, shorten it. Ruthless weed every paragraph of unneeded sentences and every sentence of unneeded words. Almost anything anyone writes can be improved by being trimmed and this particular example is no exception.

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@Malvolio: Thank you. (1) I reread the first sentence and you are right, after reading a seemed-shocking starter, the read would expect the following paragraphs is going to give them the explanation rather than blah about something else. –  trVoldemort Apr 15 '11 at 6:31
    
@Malvolio: (2) I always thought that an concrete example should be a well known story like a famous person had done something famous. Do real life examples persuasive? I mean the readers don't know this "Bob Smith", and they may have the impression that I made that up. –  trVoldemort Apr 15 '11 at 6:47
    
(3) I agree that MEGO is bad for readability, but do readers think writing all in simple English shows the author's poor vocabulary? –  trVoldemort Apr 15 '11 at 6:58
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(2) It's not that real-life examples are necessarily persuasive, but they're illustrative, they demonstrate your point. About (3), first, you missed my point, which was that emphatic but non-specific words like "irreplaceable" don't convince anybody: they just tempt the reader to think "Yeah, I think I could replace it." You don't have to avoid those words, but if you use one, you definitely have to back it up (how would you prove something really was irreplaceable?) Second, an essay doesn't exist to show off your vocabulary; your vocabulary exists to improve your essay! (cont.) –  Malvolio Apr 15 '11 at 16:01
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An example of shortening: You wrote, "Self-study, be it extracting knowledge from books or from other materials, is one-sided information flowing process, meaning that we only accept facts from the material while our feedbacks are not supervised by it." I would write: "Studying alone is necessarily one-directional." Then I would write another sentence to explain why that's so, and a third to say why I think that's bad (or at least suboptimal). –  Malvolio Apr 15 '11 at 16:18

The structure of your essay is fine, but your intro is irrelevant and your conclusion is redundant. I know the advice runs "Tell 'em what you're going to tell 'em, tell 'em, and then tell 'em what you told 'em" but you don't literally use the words "I said X."

For shortening it, let's just try the first paragraph:

Studying with partners sometimes illuminates us. When studying alone, learners will often encounter the situation where even though they can tell may find that they're puzzled by something, they aren't fully aware of what it is. but they can't articulate what. This is when experienced learners would immediately realize it's time to seek help. If there are something that can only be found in group learning, it would be the communication between humans. Self-study , be it extracting knowledge from books or from other materials, is one-sided information flowing process gathering, meaning that we only accept facts from the material while our feedbacks are not supervised by it. without getting feedback on our understanding or perception from others. This kind of process is in sharp contrast with human-to-human communication. In which case, with a series of information exchange and mutual observation, the learners would quickly locate the problem. Exchanging information and observations with others can allow students to locate what they're having trouble with.

Sorry, you have an awful lot of fluff there. I know English is not your first language, and you're obviously working hard. :) Your grammar is mostly fine (although "something" is singular and would take "is," not "are")

Remove phrases like "the situation where" and "it's time to." You can show the contrast between A and B without having to say "In sharp contrast." You don't have to specify what medium a person is getting information from; it's irrelevant.

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Wow, in my comment, I quoted the exact same bit of bad advice, exactly to disparage it. Teachers, what can you do. I think trValdemort is the victim of a really first-rate education. –  Malvolio Apr 15 '11 at 16:30
    
@Malvolio: Actually, I agree with you -- I think it's a terrible piece of advice. I was quoting it because it seemed obvious to me that it is exactly the structure of trVoldemort's essay, so I wanted to acknowledge "Yes, I'm sure your teacher told you this, but you aren't supposed to do it word-for-word." –  Lauren Ipsum Apr 15 '11 at 18:54

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