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Experience is the best teacher; influential person - Preparing for the Clep exam

paula 1 / 1  
Nov 17, 2009   #1
I would like feedback on these two essays that I wrote as exercises to prepare for the Clep exam: English with composition.
English is not my native language, therefore writing a comprehensive essay in 45 minutes is a big challenge for me. Your feedback is much appreciated. Thank you.

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Essay topic: "Experience is the best teacher". Suggest to some people that they benefit more from learning on the job or in the world than from continuing their formal education in the school or college classroom.


The statement that experience is the best teacher, is valuable, but when it comes to building a career, it should not override the need for an education. Education has two functions: one is to prepare professionals in a specific field and the other to teach skills that are relevant to intellectual growth. Although much of the growth that takes place in building a career comes from experience, it is extremely important to start with a solid foundation, which only education can provide.

Either we are in the field of manufacturing or in the field of providing a type of 'service', education can help build a good start. Education provides theoretical knowledge, it trains people to develop methods of thinking and exercises the brain to think 'outside the box'. Education also teaches discipline and how to accomplish tasks by focusing the mind. Some people are born with the skill to bear high levels of concentration but for most people this takes practice. School creates the ground for this.

It is true that in many cases we do not learn the practicalities of the work field within a 5 year professional degree. This is something that happens naturally with experience once we start working. For example, I have a major in architecture but in school I did not learn how to manage projects, write contracts, or how to properly make technical construction details. In school I learned something different, yet extremely relevant. Something that experience alone could not provide, which is the ability to design anything. In school I developed the skills to perceive things through the eye of an architect. For five years, through the guidance of teachers, I built the foundation to use my talent and to bring out the best in me. This has had tremendous influence in the outcome of my life as an architect. My sensibility, vision and creativity have improved with experience but without the foundation that I built in school, I believe that I would not be a good architect today. It takes time and mentoring to develop these skills. Once we start working there's no time to cultivate this seed, there's only time to get things done.

In conclusion, I believe that experience plays an important role in our growth. Much of the practicalities of our professions are learned in the work field and not in school. However we should not let this override the importance of an education. Education helps people build the foundation in which to properly grow and become good professionals, either in the area of manufacturing or in the area of providing a type of service. I believe education achieves this by providing methods of discipline and focus, through mentoring programs, and by encouraging students to think outside of the box.

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Essay topic: Describe a person who has had an influence in you.


I would like to pay homage to my brother in this essay because he was the most influential person in my life from the time I was born until he left home. My brother was able to provide protection, care and guidance throughout my entire childhood. He was the wisest and most compassionate person I knew. Because my parents had concerns that were beyond taking care of their children, my brother took up the responsibility to look after me.

My brother was my personal guardian, a friend, and a mentor. Although we were 6 years apart in age, which is considered a large gap between kids, my brother and I often played together. We had several animals that we cared for such as, canaries, turtles, and a dog. We cleaned their habitats, provided food and invented games to be played in conjunction with the animals. During difficult times, my brother never failed to give me his attention and help. When I would often have trouble with school work, he would make himself available to help. A couple of times he went as far as to learn the material from scratch in order to be able to teach me. I remember that I couldn't make sense of the music teachings of my 5th grade teacher and my brother took the time to study music in order to teach me the notes and scales. Although I was not able to understand anything through my teacher, through my brother everything made sense and the logic of music become apparent. My brother was very patient and creative in his teaching skills: he brought humor to alleviate difficult moments and helpful examples to improve my understanding.

Whenever I would get in trouble with my parents or at school with other classmates, my brother would defend and protect me. I felt well taken care of.

One of the most significant moments I had with my brother was at age 9, when at 9:00pm standing in the 8th story balcony of a 16 story building, he taught me the concept of infinity. I remember that I could not understand how something could not be finite. How it could not have a beginning and an end. My brother started his explanation by giving an example of something at a small scale and then increasing the scale from microscopic to macroscopic. He told me to consider where we were in relation to the sky and asked: "Do you think that the sky ends where the clouds are? He went to the kitchen and grabbed an orange. He brought it back to the balcony and said "now think that this orange is the earth and the space around it, is the sky. The space continues forever and it has no boundaries. Somehow having had me hold that orange in my hand, imagining the sky around it and changing from one scale to another, helped me understand that the sky did not end at the clouds. I was able to cultivate an understanding of the infinite which was very exciting.

I pay homage to my brother because he was the most influential person in my childhood. He made play fun, protected and guided me through growth. I was lucky to have him, especially because my parents didn't have the patience or the time to look after us. Although my brother was only 6 years older than I was, he was incredibly compassionate and did a wonderful job taking care of me.

EF_Susan - / 2,365 12  
Nov 18, 2009   #2
Hard to believe that English is not your native language, this is great!

Whether we are in the field of manufacturing or...

Something that experience alone could not provide, which is the ability to design anything. ...This sentence is incomplete.

...talent and to bring out the best in myself.

Many of the practicalities of our professions are learned...

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We had several animals that we cared for, such as canaries, turtles, and a dog.

...through my teacher, through my brother made everything make sense and the logic of music became apparent.

...standing on the 8th story balcony of a 16 story building...

What a wonderful tribute to your brother. I hope he gets to read this!
EF_Kevin 8 / 13,334 129  
Nov 19, 2009   #3
That first sentence up at the top is a little rough:
The statement, "experience is the best teacher," is valuable, but when it comes to building a career, a focus on experience should not override one's focus on education.

How about that?

I also wanted to mention that in modern education, more and more, teachers are working to provide "authentic" learning, which involves real experiences. Some schools bring kids to participate in all kinds of community work -- so maybe you want to talk about that fact: the fact that education and experience can be one and the same.
OP paula 1 / 1  
Nov 23, 2009   #4
Susan and Kevin - thank you for the feedback. I studied the mistakes you pointed out and understand now the difference between many / much, whether / either...I am also more careful about not writing incomplete sentences.

Thank you!

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