Mock Essay

Students read Jonathan Swifts “A Modest Proposal” in class, a satire which argues for consuming the children of the poor in order to solve the problem of poverty in Ireland in 1729.

Students will be creating their own Modest Proposals for solving problems in education in the form of Mock Essays.  A Mock Essay follows the style and form of a academic essay – including quoting and citing sources.  However, the logic used to “solve” the problem is absurd, illogical, and/or humorous and all resources are made up/imaginary.

Students engaged in a ‘speed dating’ idea-rotation activity on Friday 10/04 to generate possibilities for their paper.  A few of the ideas are listed below:

  • Put Tasers into the students’ seats at their desks to reduce behavior problems in class.
  • Put students into old fashioned stocks during lunch for detention to reduce behavior problems in school
  • Students should be able to vote for / against teachers’ lessons in real-time, much like judges vote on America’s Got Talent. This will solve problems related to poor instruction.
  • Have nap-time after lunch. This will solve problems related to both behavior and academics.
  • Have high-school recess (dance parties, texting labs, Facebook, student Olympics, etc.). This will increase student engagement, allow students to blow off steam, and increase test scores.

See the full assignment prompt below for more details.

Mock Essay

Prompt: Compose a 750 word analytical essay on an invented or made-up topic of your choice. See the essay rubric for grading criteria.

Discussion of the prompt: Invent a fictitious or imaginary topic or premise and write an essay about it incorporating the different forms of quotes discussed in class.  While your “facts” may be made up, you are still required to follow the form of an analytical essay—you are writing an essay, not a short story (see the “South Park” example or the “Virtual School” example).  You are limited only by the restraints of your own imagination; however, you must make a claim about and support the topic you have chosen.  You cannot simply state, “In this essay I am going to discuss __________.”  See the example below.

Sample Thesis:

The makers of the popular M&M candies must reconsider their use of the green and red M&M’s since a portion of the population remains color blind and are being deprived of a satisfactory chocolate experience.

In supporting the above thesis, I could use the fact that sight affects one’s taste (which it actually does, by the way).  Next I could cite federal laws which prohibit discrimination against people who are handicapped and so forth.  In other words, I would use reason to support an otherwise absurd premise.  This paper does not require any “real” outside sources; however, you will be required to write a works cited page for your imaginary citations.


  • Begin with an attention getter (quote, story, joke, statistic, etc.).
  • Summarize the issue of the essay.
  • Funnel toward a thesis statement—the last sentence of your introduction that states your position and presents an overview of your main points.


  • Begin each paragraph with a topic sentence that states your main point.
  • Provide support in the form of quotes from imaginary sources.  You must have at least one quote per main point / paragraph.  You must use each of the two types of quotes at least once.
  • Explain the importance of the quote in relation to the main point of the paragraph.
  • Explain how this main point supports the overriding thesis of the essay.


  • Summarize the thesis and how the main points have “proved” the thesis to be true.
  • End with an exigency: the “Jerry Springer Final Thought” of the essay.  Answer the “so what?” question  (i.e. tell the reader what s/he can learn from reading your essay).

Works Cited:

Grading Criteria:

  • We will be composing these in the computer lab.  You will be responsible for completing your paper on your own if you do not complete it during class time.
  • Attach all drafts behind your final copy.
  • Attach the grading rubric (on the back of this assignment sheet) on top of your final copy.  If you lose this assignment sheet, get another from the class web page.
  • Compose your paper according to MLA format.

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