Why the ‘Hamburger’ Essay Has Gone Stale


The ‘hamburger’ essay, a staple of traditional academic writing and primary school teaching, has long been used to help students organize their thoughts and create arguments. However, as our educational landscape changes and our understanding of effective communication evolves, the ‘hamburger’ essay format may no longer serve its purpose or delight the intellectual taste buds. In this article, we will explore why the ‘hamburger’ essay has gone stale and how we can adapt to more engaging and dynamic forms of writing.

Critique 1: Overly Structured Format

The ‘hamburger’ essay follows a strict structure: an introduction, three body paragraphs, and a conclusion. While this was helpful in training students on basic argument construction, it often limited creativity and flexibility. The rigidity of this format stifled experimentation with varied sentence structures and paragraph lengths, potentially hindering the development of distinct writing styles.

Critique 2: Limited Complexity

Moreover, the three-body-paragraph rule restricted the depth of arguments. By requiring that each point be confined to a single paragraph, the focus on organization often came at the expense of thoroughness. This became particularly problematic when tackling more complex subjects that necessitated nuanced analysis.

Critique 3: Lack of Engagement

The predictability of the ‘hamburger’ essay also affected reader engagement. Rather than fostering curious readers eagerly anticipating what comes next, this monotonous structure prompted skimming due to its repetitive nature and lack of surprise elements.

Moving Forward: Advocating for Creativity

It is now crucial for schools and educators to move away from stale formats like the ‘hamburger’ essay and promote creativity and curiosity in student writing. We can achieve this by encouraging diversity in style and structure while still maintaining coherence.

Teaching Strategies:

1. Encourage varied organizational structures that adapt to content rather than force content into a predetermined structure.

2. Allow complexity to emerge naturally in students’ writing rather than trying to streamline everything into a prescribed form.

3. Prioritize substance over format by teaching skills that promote critical thinking and the ability to articulate reasoning effectively.


In conclusion, the ‘hamburger’ essay is no longer the mouthwatering option it once was for our educational system. As we seek to cultivate curiosity-driven learners who can navigate complex material, it is necessary to let go of outdated formats that stifle creativity and limit engagement. By promoting diverse writing techniques and organization styles, we give students tools needed to effectively communicate their ideas while retaining their unique voice.

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