So when does all this essay and freelance stuff come in handy? When you have an educational or moral quibble with your teachers and need to straighten it out. As part of my summer U.S. history class, we were studying the Puritans and I didn't agree with how my teacher presented the topic.
Thus, the email.
I have a quibble with you over the Puritan section in [module.] I realize the Puritans were not pluralistic, and by no means perfect. Yet I feel like the slides neglected to mention a lot of the good that the Puritan culture did for our country. They helped foster both financial and intellectual independence, which laid a foundation for future generations. Without hte Puritan work ethic or their defined, separate identity from England, colonial America would not have been successful in leaving the British empire. Boston dominates many of the slides in [later module on American Revolution] as a center for the rebel colonists, but these Patriots were sons and grandsons of the original Puritans and their Boston was one derived from Puritan values and beliefs.
The slides also glossed over the fact htat the Puritans left the Netherlands and England because of heavy persecution from the English government (from which many of the Virginia cavaliers came.) I don't mean to trivialize the Salem Witch Trials, because the trials were a horrible event in our history. However, it is one of the few blemishes on the Puritan name and to treat the entire Puritan heritage based on this extreme example is similar to condemning the Islamic world based on the extreme tragedy of September 11th.
David Brooks, a columnist in the New York Times and commentator on the Lehrer news hour, recently wrote an op-ed about the Puritan work ethic and how it helped stabilize the early American culture, and how a loss of respect for that work ethic has led to recent cultural excess. You can read it here at http://www.nytimes.com/2008/06/10/opinion/10brooks.html?ref=opinion .
Proof that writing, whether from practice or publication, is useful in real life.