Anyone writes at one point or another in his lifetime to share his or her experiences, ideas, perceptions, situations, and points of view. Some write everyday in their private diaries to capture their memories. Others write to give way to the expression of their emotions, sometimes, pent up, a fond memory, thoughts, or aspirations, even frustrations. If knowledge is knowing and learning gained through experience then personal essays become one of the rich sources, if not the fountainhead, of knowledge which brings us to the stance of this discourse.
The personal and highly subjective approach of the personal essay is not merely entertaining but definitely, it adds much to the stock of human knowledge. There are two bases for the present argument. Firstly, important terms, as they have bearing on the issue, are explained or defined where this discourse attempts to build this position and view on the subjective approach of personal essays as a big contributor to the stock of knowledge.
Secondly, Hs’s discussion on the sources of knowledge (Hs n. d. ) not only supplements the understanding of the terms but builds a strong working framework for this argument. On the overall, an understanding of the working definitions of knowledge and personal essays serves as the springboard for the discussion at hand. Subordinated to knowledge and personal essays are the words subjective and entertaining.
Knowledge may be understood as defined in several ways but not limited to the following: ‘the fact or condition of knowing something with familiarity gained through experience or association; acquaintance with or understanding of a science, art, or technique; the fact or condition of being aware of something; the range of one’s information or understanding; the fact or condition of having information or of being learned; the sum of what is known; and the body of truth, information, and principles acquired by humankind’ and ‘applies to facts or ideas acquired by study, investigation, observation, or experience’ (Merriam Webster n.
d. ). Moreover, knowledge refers to the ‘state or fact of knowing; familiarity, awareness, or understanding gained through experience or study; the sum or range of what has been perceived, discovered, or learned; learning; and specific information about something (Houghton Mifflin 2000). The accumulation of all possible information in every discipline altogether makes up the “stock of human knowledge. ”
On the other hand, the personal essay is one where the writer speaks from his or her own personal perspective about just any thinkable or unthinkable, imaginable or unimaginable (such as fictions) topic – emotions, experiences, places, events, things, animals, etc. A personal essay is very personal to the writer in that it relates to one’s private life rather than anyone else. In this sense, it is to a high extent particular, intimate and maybe found peculiar, but highly subjective. To be subjective is to be biased and one-sided.
In the case of a personal essay, the writer has some biases with reference to any particular topic because he or she writes from how he or she views things in the environment. That is what makes personal essays highly subjective and all along carrying that personal touch. These writings become amusing or enjoyable, or contextually, entertaining to the readers on account of an experience where they become vicariously involved. Knowledge (and the accumulation of it) as understood from its given definitions are functions well fulfilled by personal essays.
Hs listed and explained the five sources and the ways by which knowledge is gained (Hs n. d. ) – people, books, experience, experimentation and observation, and thinking and pondering. All of these sources heavily point to or at least allude to the voluminous personal essays. First, “people,” Hs declares “are the biggest source of knowledge for anybody” because for one reason, many people’s varied experiences can make enough experience in that area from which others may derive lessons from as a consequence of reading them.
Since personal essays are highly subjective dwelling on personal anecdotes, it is not surprising that they are saturated with the first person pronoun “I” in the process of the narration (Cavallari n. d. ). These experiences as expressed through personal essays may affect the lives of others either “giving inspiration or altering some of your core values and outlook of life” (Oz Essays n. d. ). The things to learn from these numerous people experiences include also their achievements, frustrations, failures, miseries, mistakes, and skills.
Furthermore, personal essays make their writer ask themselves “what experience has taught them about themselves” (Editors for Students n. d. ). And that from the personal stories grows out the points of the experience (Composition Patterns n. d. ). The lessons in life are paramount to the increase of one’s knowledge. Second, reading as much as many books about any topic is another source of knowledge. Take for instance a particular example cited by the author, Hs. The same problem that one may be confronted with must have similarly confronted others.
By reading how others dealt with the same problem might just instantly give the solution as used by others. Though not so related but contextually relevant is the old saying that “there is no frigate like a book” where the reader is able to “travel” and see the wonders of the world through the eyes of those who undertook the travels and wrote about them. Third, it is true that “experience is a great teacher” according to Hs because mistakes are corrected and achievements are gained through lessons derived from past experiences not just your own but others’ as well.
No matter how rhetoric but it is undeniably true that the best lessons in past experiences tells us that the present must learn from the past to make the present better and plan out for the best future. Fourth, experimentation and observation add to the stock of human knowledge by attempting at finding out, through one’s efforts and those of others through their writings, which attempts succeed that readers might carry on and which attempts fail that they might avoid in their own ventures.
Watchfulness and keen observation of others’ approaches to particular situations is a sure way to gain knowledge that can be applied when the situation arises that calls for appropriate actions. What best observations can be had than reading from the personal essays of many people that one cannot possibly physically do all? Fifth, by thinking and pondering on what have been read such as personal essays can lead to a deep understanding of any topic. Take the case of personal essays of uncountable number on “How To…” like “How to Become a Millionaire,” How to Study Effectively,” “How to Win an Election,” How to Deal with Stress,” and many more.
They are generally taken from individuals’ own experiences and insights that are shared to the readers. From these personal essays are skills or strategies learned that might as well work for the readers’ own successes. They are not necessarily products of empirical studies worked out from sample populations. Are they not significantly contributing to the stock of human knowledge? The process and later the formation of the habit of writing makes the individual primarily knowledgeable in many ways and secondarily acquiring the appropriate skills in communicative writing.
Writing from personal experiences and incidents is actually mirroring one’s self as the lesson emerges from life experiences. Then, they develop the skill to reflect on the intrapersonal and develop the skill to write which is in itself a knowledge earned usable at any point in time especially in the academe. The readers, on the other hand, learn to write and improve, in some cases, hone their skills on the styles of writing based on the personal essays of others. The teaching experience of Andrea Sarvady is an interesting case in point.
In an interview with an educator (Sarvady 2007) in a school in Atlanta, Georgia, Sarvady emphasized that requiring and training her 7th and 8th grade students in writing personal essays makes them ‘become better writers … and become better people’. Writing just about anything from fiction to non-fiction, Andrea believes that the two-year personal essay writing program she does with her students is to a certain extent therapeutic but more importantly, she claims ‘it helps a lot of kids look at their own life a little more closely at an age where impulse controls issues are so huge.
” The process and the progress to becoming “better people” is no doubt a consequence of knowledge earned. It is easy to contradict the opinion that personal essays are simply entertaining but does not do much to add to the stock of human knowledge. On the contrary, personal essays have much to offer to the formation of the stock of human knowledge while certainly entertaining at the same time. The argument with focus on science as a discipline, (Crichton n. d.
) carries some truth when he said that the “personal and subjective approach to essay writing entertains the reader, which adds little in comparison to the attainment of human knowledge. ” However, at the same time he was quite negating his position when he said that people’s understanding of the world when “it grows, expands and then adds to the collective work… once accredited and accepted as plausible, it advances the stockpile of human knowledge through the dispersal of academic essays.
” In effect personal essays, although a subjective view of an objective knowledge, cannot be denied that however little, they throw in to the stock of human knowledge. Going further to the argument, human knowledge as based on the five sources of knowledge being the framework for this treatise are largely derived nowhere else but from ‘people’ where many of their ‘experiences’ are captured through their written texts as in ‘books’ narrating their own ‘experiences and observations’ of others that they ‘ponder’ on bringing about a deeper understanding of any subject matter.
As a consequence, experiences of people first handedly accumulate to significantly contribute to the stock of human knowledge. Personal essays are written experiences of individuals to share their thoughts, insights, points of view, emotions, skills and abilities, ideas, usually bringing home to a point usually a lesson as a consequence of the experience (Editors for Students n. d. ). People trying out new ways of cooking, through experimentations and observations, are collected into cookery books.
Similarly, innovative ways of doing interior home designs are collected into magazines and books on home designing shared by countless others. Landscaping and gardening are available in many books from the ideas of many creative individuals. Skills honing activities in any field of interest are available in books and magazines. Many researches utilize the interview instruments which are generally derived from interviews of real people eliciting from their own experiences. From this wide array of information, generalizations are made into principles, theories, and concepts.
The amalgam of experiences and observations found and shared in personal essays accruing make up the colossal stock of human knowledge more than just entertain readers. List of References Cavallari, D. What is a Personal Essay [online] Available from <http://www. wisegeek. com/what-is-a-personal-essay. htm> [June 4, 2009] Crichton, A. A Subjective Look on Objective Knowledge[online] Available from <http://philosopherzone. com/philosophy/a-subjective-look-on-objective-knowledge/> [June 2, 2009]
Editors for Students “The Personal Essay – Essay Writing Tip #6” [online] available from <http://www. editorsfor students. com/personalessay. html> [June 3, 2009] Houghton Mifflin Company(2003). The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Languag, 4th ed [online] Available from <http://www. thefreedictionary. com/knowledge> [June 3, 2009] Hs, S. Sources Of Knowledge – How To Gain Knowledge In Any Field [online] Available from <http://ezinearticles. com/? Sources-Of-Knowledge—How-To-Gain-Knowledge-In-Any-Field&id=500120> [June 4 2009]
Merriam-Webster’s Online Dictionary [online] Available from <http://www. merriam-webster. com/dictionary/knowledge> [June 3, 2009] Personal Essays in the Classroom (March 28, 2007) [online] Available from <http://www. visualthesaurus. com/cm/teachersatwork/735/> [June 4, 2009] Interview Oz Essay Personal Experience Essay[online] Available from <http://www. ozessay. com. au/personal_experience_essay. html> [June 2, 2009] Composition Patterns The Personal Essay [online] Available from <http://grammar. ccc. commnet. edu/GRAMMAR/composition/personal. htm> [June 2, 2009]
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