I came across this passage from the novelist Nicholson Baker yesterday:
To find their way in American life, high-schoolers need to be able to speak English, to read, to listen to and respect other people’s opinions, to have a command of the basic elements of courtesy and, to a lesser extent, to write. (They do not need to know how to write a thesis sentence. More injury is done to high-school essays by the imposition of the thesis-sentence requirement than by any other means. The trick, kids are sometimes told, is to begin with a word like “although.” No.)
Fortress of Tedium: What I Learned as a Substitute Teacher: A novelist’s education in the classroom by Nicholson Baker 9/7/2016
Very droll! That final no is one of the funniest I can remember.
Funny, but wrong.
Number one, thesis sentences are a good thing. More than good, they’re essential. Katharine has a terrific story about a friend who couldn’t finish her dissertation because she couldn’t state, in one sentence, what her argument was. I know the feeling.
And, number two, although is an excellent word to begin a thesis statement with. As a matter of fact, Katharine and I teach the although- construction in our curriculum.
More in a bit.