The Psychology and Mathematics behind the Formulation of Dissertations for Education in Advanced Placement United States Antiquity

    I’d like to dedicate this independent study to all of my teachers, past, present, and future.  Especially to those who made me so incredibly angry, and who took away many hours my life by giving me homework and essays to write.  But, also to those teachers that were kinda cool and made me think about things, but who were still jerks ‘cause they gave me homework and made me actually work in school.  It is the fault of both sets of teachers that I have wasted more of my time by writing this actually semi-interesting half essay thingy . . . That is, interesting in MY opinion, I dunno about you people.

    So we've all been there, and if you haven't then you've no right to be reading this so go away; we've all had to write essays for school.  Doesn't really matter what about; you know the process.  Anxiety, frustration, planning, writing, editing etc. etc. etc. Why?  --Insert BJ Quote here--"I wanna know!" Teachers CLAIM they don't like correcting essays, and students don't like writing essays; therefore, I ask "why?"  I don't understand why schools around the globe force students to write essays.  The only thing comparable to such a task in "real life" would be a report of some sort, or if one went into some field which required massive amounts of writing.  Which, I'm happy to say, most of us probably won't have to do.  The future janitors, McDonald's workers, and Target employees of the world unite!  Ok, so maybe reports have a purpose; maybe teachers and essays have positive effects.  We'll let it go.  Besides, this particular erratic feature is really about what happens while one is WRITING an essay.  Some mathematical findings and psychological theories of mine - based on my own research, as always.

    Today's essay was about - never mind, doesn't matter what it was about.  As usual start with an outline - not only does it waste time while actually making it look like you're working, but it also kinda actually helps (who new my 8th grade English teacher was right?!?!).  Ok, so this particular essay was broken down into three paragraphs - that is, body paragraphs, intro and conclusion don't count; they're there for fun.  The outline contained "IDEAS". 1st paragraph - 6 ideas. 2nd - 5 ideas. 3rd - 4 ideas.  So, I went ahead and wrote the first two paragraphs.  Now, right about the time I get to the 3rd paragraph, I really really really really just wanna stop. Why is that? Perhaps by this time the topic has become boring and redundant (GD SONG)? Or perhaps, it is simply the point at which one must break.  This particular phenomena is a mystery to me!  So, to get that jump start (yeah right) I took a break.  This is where my idea comes in.  Being fond of math in general, and english/social studies papers (which it was) are VERY mathematical,  I started to play with the numbers.  How are essays mathematical? Much counting goes on; as one may have noticed - pagination, word count, number of pages, number of paragraphs, reference numbers, number of lines, the number of essays you wrote in X (OMG! an algebraic variable!) length of time - which is incredibly mathematical in and of itself - and everyone's favorite - margin width.
    However, today we're simply concerned with one of the above mentioned variables - number of lines.  Otherwise, this erratic feature might turn into another book that I'd never finish (::ahem:: Lisa - how're we coming with that?? lol).  So, the 1st paragraph had 22 lines. 2nd - 19 lines.  The assumption, through simple subtraction and pattern recognition, is that the 3rd paragraph would then be 16 lines.
    6 5 4 (ideas)  
    22 19 x (lines)  
therefore  x = 16. Right? Well, that's far too simple for us; complications are the spice of life!

    So how does a little division sound?  *lines / ideas = lines per idea*

1st     22 / 6 = 3.666...  
2nd    19 / 5 = 3.8

    Averaging!  The most common form of mathematics practiced by high schoolers!  *1st + 2nd = Y, Y/2 = average*

    3.666... + 3.8 = 7.4666,    7.4666 / 2 = 3.7333
    For the sake of my sanity we'll round off . . .
    Average = 3.7

    Prediction!  *Average x # of ideas = predicted length of 3rd paragraph*    

    3.7 x 4 = 14.8

    Hmm . . . now we have to predictions! 16 - through simple math, and 14.8 through more simple, but not as simple, math.  The average of these two being 15.4 (if you don't believe me go ahead and test it out, not gonna write it out. sorry.). What's the correct answer?  I needed to find out, I also needed to finish the essay, as it is due tomorrow; so, I wrote the last paragraph.  What did the total number of lines come to? 19 WOW! Was I off!  How did I manage to get 19 lines from only 4 ideas?! That's a ratio of 4.75 lines per idea!  The anticipated ratio being 3.93      (*3.8 - 3.666... = x,  x + 3.8 = anticipated ratio*). Let's compare . . .

Paragraph    # of lines    # of Ideas    lines/ideas

1st        22        6        3.666...
2nd        19        5        3.8
3rd        19        4        4.75

    Anything seem WRONG here?  This basically kills the thought that any real relationship exists between the number of lines per idea. But then again, we ignored a great number of variables in the beginning - most of which dealt with topical information and the development of the idea.  But what it really means, in the practical "down-to-earth" sense, is that: to graph this data would be VERY ugly and not fun; it would be one of those ugly curves that doesn't really curve nice like a compass, but is rather ugly and makes you wonder if you did something wrong.  The patterns indicate an anticipated decrease in the number of lines per paragraph, and an increase in the ratio of lines per idea. This is where the mathematics stop, and the psychology or rather, explanation, begins.

    Typically, my essays follow a pattern.  The first paragraph is very long, and then each subsequent paragraph becomes shorter and shorter.  This essay follows the pattern, in a way; the number of ideas decreases as the essay continues.  The number of lines almost follows the pattern - making it somewhat of an irregularity.  However, why do the first paragraphs turn out to be longer?  Why do I put the paragraph with the most information in the front? Why do I go in order of decreasing amount of information? Why did the ratio of lines per idea increase?  Are my essay writing skills like a motor? Hmm soo many questions to answer!

    Apparently, the topics with the most information get put into the front because it's more impressive.  The whole first impressions thing.  More memorable.  Besides, the reader gets bored rather quickly with the dry topics that essays are written about; so, get the good stuff in first.  Decrease the amount of information so that it may not be as apparent to the reader that the last paragraph actually has half as much information as the first.

    Perhaps the ideas begin to get dragged out into more lines as an attempt to compensate for the lack of information.  Or perhaps essay writing skills are like a motor.  They need to be warmed up before I start to fully develop my ideas?  Does that mean that the quantity is affected by the quality of the development?  If this is true, that wonderful idea that quality is more important than quantity (which helps those short essay writers to get sleep at night) can be thrown right out the window.  This would also mean that a rough draft would be beneficial, as it would be a "warm up."  Or would it be more of a drain?  I'm anti-rough draft btw.  They're a waste of time; as far as essay writing via computer is concerned.

    It would appear that each aspect of my essay does have an explanation.  However, what does it all mean? Does the whole "motor" theory mean something?  Should one practice before writing?  A rough draft? No, I think not.  Billie Joe said it best - "Practice makes perfect, and no body's perfect. So, why practice?"

    Ofcourse, all of this information leads one to ask "Why the hell are you concerned with this shit in the first place if it's the middle of August?" That's one for the AP US HIST teacher.  I wonder, which category will he fall into?