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These entries obviously need some format corrections--most of the errors were introduced when I pulled them from Word into a FrontPage HMTL file, but we're working on them.
George. "Politics and the English Language."
In Shooting an Elephant and Other Essays.
New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1950.
Rpt. in George Orwell.
September 10, 2000. 1-6.
In this essay George Orwell attacks many of the aspects of modern
language which annoy him most. Orwell
begins by introducing several passages from contemporary writings, including
Communist propoganda, several professors and published essays. (1)
Orwell then dissects these passages and divulges the most basic problems
with language that appear in each passage and continues to discuss how these
problems reflect the "general collapse" (1) of English language (2).
Orwell breaks these problems down into the categories of "dying
metaphors", "operators or verbal false limbs", "pretentious
diction" and "meaningless words" (2-3).
Dying metaphors, as the author explains them, are instances of overused
or misused metaphors that appear frequently in written and spoken language (2).
He singles out the expression "the hammer and the anvil" as
erroneous because of the implication that the anvil "gets the worst"
of the abuse in this instance, when in fact "it is the anvil that breaks
the hammer" (2). Operators or
verbal false limbs are basically elongated phrases used in place of simple
verbs, such as "render inoperative" rather then "break" (2).
Pretentious diction refer to using complicated or foreign words in place
of simple words to add "an air of culture and elegance" (2).
The use of these pretensions results in "an increase in slovenliness
and vagueness" (3). Meaningless
words, which appear most in certain types of writing "particularly in art
criticism" are words which are overused or have several meanings which
convolute an author's point. (3)
After his attack on the stated parts of written and spoken language,
Orwell continues and models a simple path of questions, which, if followed,
should lead to an easier time in writing. (4)
Orwells' instructions include much of what has been covered in associated
class reading. First, he recommends
asking what is to be said, "which words will express it", how can the
idea be clarified, and are the words "fresh enough to have an effect".
Orwell's writing, though he certainly does pose interesting and valid
points about language, also purports the impossibility of flawless writing.
Many of the studies read in class attempt to break down writing to a
simple formula. Flowers and Hayes'
demonstrates that the mental processes behind writing are more then likely far
from simple. Orwell here attempts
to suggest ways to clarify language, to make writing more precise, and yet he
finds himself making the errors that he himself has so vehemently condemned.
He blatantly classifies modern prose as being "away from
concreteness" (3), which is a weakness, and yet several times in this
article uses words or phrases that are far from lucid.
He refers to a "special connection" between "politics and
the debasement of language" (4), and yet never clarifies what this
connection is. This is not to say that Orwell's essay lacks brilliance or
significance, as he even points out that he probably commits the mistakes he
In studying how language is created, is important to understand that
language can be tuned, shaped, clarified, improved, and yet can never be
perfected. Was language an exact
science, the errors Orwell discusses could be eliminated, writing could be
taught systematically and tutors would not be necessary; however, the
inexactness of language is what allows for beauty and uniqueness and enhances
the study of it thus.--Shauna Kelley, 9/10/00
Tompkins, Gail E. "Poetic Writing." Teaching Writing,
Balancing Process and Product. Fresno: California State University Press,
My interest in
this particular chapter of what is basically a "How To" manual for
teachers stems from the way that Graves struck me as well as my interest in
creativity in young children. The chapter outlines several teaching methods for
middle school- and high school-aged students and gives specific examples of how
their creativity can be drawn out of them into a creative medium, in this case,
emphasizes the importance of teaching children how to "play with
words." By giving them poetic tools such as multiple-meaning words (157),
homophones (158), idioms (158), comparison (190), alliteration (191),
onomatopoeia (193), repetition (193), and rhyme (194), teachers can make words
work for the children. When they feel a comfort level with difficult words and
word-concepts, they are enabled to have fun with the words, making the writing
experience more like playing than like working.
I was especially
drawn to the author's encouragement of allowing children to create their own
words. A little skeptical at first, I realized how novel it was to teach a skill
that required thinking outside one's own language. Students used compounding,
affixes, coining, trademarks, acronyms, and clipping to create words that are
not in the dictionary but were nevertheless relevant to what they wanted to
several examples from the classroom in her writing and research, and one of the
most common difficulties that teachers encountered related to the children's
preconceived notion that poems should rhyme. She advised, "rhyming should
never be imposed as a criterion for acceptable poetry" (169). She felt
that, while rhyming does occasionally open doors for higher-level students,
young students' expression would be lost when they tried to rhyme. In short,
they came up with nonsense poems that did not really contain what they were
trying to say. Unfortunately, similar notions of "how a paper should be
written" may serve as obstacles for the students we will attempt to tutor.
Tompkins offered several solutions that involved re-teaching the children what a
poem really is, or at least, what a poem is "in this classroom." She
offered a step-by-step solution with class activities (186). She advised that
before instructors ask their students to "write a poem," that they
first teach the diversity of poetic forms, share poems written by children,
review the poetic form, and write class collaboration poems. Only after such an
extensive explanation (during which the teacher stresses how many different
kinds of poems there are) will the students have all the tools to write their
own poems and feel comfortable writing them as well.
While I chose
this chapter because it related to the Graves article and my personal interest,
I did find something that struck me as directly relevant to the act of tutoring
that we will be undertaking. Just as children have a preconceived notion that
poems should rhyme, many students that walk into the writing center have a
preconceived notion of what a college paper should be. Though it seems like a
tall order, it might be important for us to identify when something like
structure or wordiness is taking away from the thesis of a paper. In this way,
Flower and Hayes' perception of "the long-term memory" could be
explicitly hindering the writer. That is, the long term memory contains notions
that might work against the paper's goals. Rachel Loeper, 9/11/00
Steve. "Censoring Students, Censoring Ourselves:
Constraining Conversations in the Writing Center."
The Writing Center Journal 20.1 (1999): 51-59.
In this chapter of The Writing Center Journal, Steve Sherwood
closely examines the relationship between tutors and tutees, with respect to the
censorship of ideas. He feels that
writing center tutors have a responsibility to encourage free thinking on the
part of the tutees, while ensuring that the work produced will not be offensive
to its readers. Sherwood finds
conflict in his need to simultaneously act as a "strict libertarian"
(51) and also "prohibit sexist, racist, offensive, or profane speech"
(52). The author presents the
example of a male student who comes into a writing center for help with a
composition paper. The student's
comments in the paper communicate his extreme lack of respect and consideration
for women in the corporate world. Naturally,
Mr. Sherwood is appalled by the statements made and struggles to decide what to
do. Do tutors truly have the right
to censor the opinions of their tutees?
In light of his libertarian views, the author cites the First Amendment.
This amendment guarantees this student the right to voice his opinions,
no matter what these opinions are. Obviously,
this writer will face opposition or criticism from his professor or classmates
for his opinions, but that is not his main concern.
But the likelihood of greatly offending professor and academic classes is
a main priority of those working in the writing center.
Sherwood is "bound by National Council of Teachers of English tenets
prohibiting sexist speech" (52) and must consider the implications of
taking a solely libertarian stance on this issue.
No matter how difficult it might be, tutors must find ways to protect
students' rights to free speech while considering the rights of the readers.
But how do tutors evaluate what writing is offensive?
Determining whether or not writing is too abrasive is taking the tutors'
personal opinions into consideration. "Most
of us would sooner censor ourselves - refusing to reveal our opinions on issues
for fear of being too directive - than censor a student writer" (52).
Tutors must strive not to impose their thoughts upon the tutees.
After all, the finished paper should present the ideas of the students,
not the tutors. As for the issues
of offensive content, tutors must act very cautiously.
Sherwood offers some interesting solutions to this very difficult
problem. He suggests explaining
"that a primary purpose of academic writing is learning and testing ideas,
not simply venting" (58) and giving "fair consideration to the
perspectives and experiences of
others" (58). Offering these
suggestions might lead students to new realizations, without the fear of
unfairly censoring the thoughts of the writers. While assisting students in the production of good academic
writing, tutors must also carefully avoid the infringement upon any students'
Chris M. "Distant Voices: Teaching and Writing in a Culture of
College English, Vol. 61, No. 3.
January, 1999, p 261-280.
Anson sets up a distinction between how we once lived and learned, and
how we are beginning to live and learn based on technological advances.
His descriptions are fairly objective even as he discusses the ways in
which the academic world will radically change due to technology.
He also discusses the various levels on which technology affects the
academic environment, ranging from personal computers to multimedia classrooms,
to distance learning.
His general approach to the encroachment of technology is very sensible,
saying, "The key to sustaining our pedagogical advances in the teaching of
writing…will be to take control of these technologies, using them in effective
ways and not…substituting them for those contexts and methods that we hold to
be essential for learning to write" (263). Basically, Anson believes that teaching methods have not
changed much, but that the media through which we teach are changing.
He gives several examples of technological usage which already, in a year
and a half since publication are outdated, proving further how technology-based
academia has become.
Besides changing our learning environments, Anson expresses how
"virtual spaces" can create physical isolation and "an entirely
different order of interaction" (267).
Clearly, if the way students living in dormitories interact with each
other changes, the way those same students interact in classrooms will change as
well. And Anson believes that the
teaching of writing "is founded on the assumption that students learn well
by reading and writing with each other" (267).
If the teaching of writing begins employing multimedia teaching
strategies, the whole ideological approach to writing will have to change,
because interaction is so fundamental to the discipline.
Anson seems to worry about the restructuring of the entire writing
process but does not believe technology will endanger serious learning.
He also suggests several ways in which technology will enhance some
education, providing students with opportunities for distance learning and
contact with like-minded students at different universities.
Anson provides a clear overview of technological advances in the field of
academia and how these can be useful tools if used in an actual classroom of
serious scholarship instead of replacing that physical environment with teachers
and classmates who only exist in cyberspace.
(Miriam J. Steinberg, 9/14/00)
Steve. "Humor and The Serious
Tutor." The Writing Center
Journal 13.2 (1993): 3-12.
In this article, Steve Sherwood addresses humor and laughter within the
writing center. He begins his
article by quoting many scholars who "encourage an enlightened,
collaborative environment in writing centers" (3), and believe that the
stigma of going to a writing tutor should be eradicated.
Sherwood feels that the use of "intelligent and humane" humor
can be the first step in creating such an environment, thereby eliminating the
notion that writing centers are only for those who need remedial help.
Sherwood's objectives for humor in the writing centers are to "build
rapport, calm fears, sweeten criticism, and enhance creativity" (11).
He addresses each of these points throughout his article, beginning with
the building of rapport between the tutor and tutee. He stresses that humor should not be used in a derisive
manner, as the tutee is probably already anxious about the session in the first
place (4). Ridiculing and
humiliating the tutee will not help to improve their confidence in their skills
as writers. Instead, humor should
be used as a device to build a relationship of "respect, trust, even
friendship" (6) in order to help them develop their skills and talents as
writers (5). A tutor can only help
someone who is willing to be helped, but once a solid relationship is
established, the tutee might be more inclined to return to the writing center or
the same tutor.
Sherwood then relates the importance of humor in calming the tutee's
fears, which could be a combination of many things from "deadlines, grades,
parental (or spousal) expectations, and tough professors" to disapproval,
rejection, or authority figures (7). Laughter
between the tutor and tutee can help to ease such fears, allowing the tutee to
focus on the paper at hand instead. He
states that shared laughter is usually a result of people relating to each other
on the same level (7). As Turk
discussed in her personal essay, it is hard to balance the "status as a
student against the authority inherent in ... being a consultant."
This balance might be achieved and maintained by the ability to relate to
his/her tutee with humor.
Sherwood's next point discusses how humor can help to soften the truthful
criticism that must come from the tutor. Once
a good rapport has been established, the pain of criticism may not sting as much
(8). Humor is useful in keeping the
tutee's "fragile ego" intact, while still allowing for honest insights
and comments to be made from the tutor. However, Sherwood emphasizes that each tutee must be regarded
on an individual basis, and it is up to the tutor to gauge his/her reaction to
humor. If a tutee is not taking to
one application of humor, another like self-deprecation, might be attempted.
It might be useful for a tutee to know that their tutors are fallible,
and thus only human, as well (8). This
prevents the tutee from feeling completely inferior to the tutor, and the tutor
from feeling too superior to the tutee. It
also gives both another point in which to relate to each other.
Sherwood's last point, which brings the article full circle, is on
humor's "vital role in liberating creative potential" (9).
He gives examples, stating that research shows "a clear relationship
between humor and creativity" (Greenlaw and McIntosh 135).
Furhermore, the humor shared between the tutor and tutee can be the
initial step in a collaborative effort in creative thinking.
The freedom to laugh and be humorous can give way to creativity once the
tutee no longer feels the restraints of academic rigidity.
This echos the personal essay of Koundajkian and her emphasis on using
the personal/social voice when tutoring in the writing center.
Once formalities in the tutor/tutee relationship are blurred by humor,
creativity and expressive ideas can emerge.
Ultimately, this can help the tutee become a better writer overall,
instead of just improving one paper.
Polly. "We'll Always Have Parrots." Discover. October
1996: 3037. Wilson Web.
In this article, Shulman humorously attempts to find the right way to get
around a creative block. The first
source she calls suggests graduate school, but she immediately dismisses it,
unwilling to spend seven year studying math in order to solve a simple theorem.
She calls upon Dr. Perkins, Harvard graduate, to explain exactly what
creative block was, and how one might go about solving it.
He explains the types, and the different ways she could try to break the
block. Fearing that there is more
studying and school involved, Shulman decides instead to see if her local
bookstore has anything to offer. She
buys several audiotapes, and takes note of the kernel of wisdom printed on her
receipt: "Attend to reality
diligently. Receive all people w/kindness. Say little, do much." She keeps it in mind but doesn't quite know how to follow the
She returns home and attempts to contact her spirit and find tap into her
creativity through several tapes. While
she does find Polly, the parrot who repeats her until asking if she smells gas,
she does not find anything that is able to restore her creative abilities.
Giving up on the tapes, Shulman calls Jonathan King of the University of
California at San Diego, a cognitive scientist, to ask how it is that humans
supposedly only use 10% of their brain as the tape suggests.
He explains to her the theory of the mind, and offers detailed technical
information on myelin and neurons firing, but does nothing to alleviate her
creative block. The spirit guide,
Polly, returns as Shulman attempts the audiotapes yet again.
She tried to have a heart to heart discussion with the bird, who merely
asserts that "I am a creative person . . . I enjoy being creative in many
Finally deciding that nothing more can be done by "sharpening
pencils and listening to tapes", Shulman sits down and begins to work out
equations similar to the one that began the entire process. Polly begins singing country song vaguely reminiscent of
"Fur Elise", and Shulman is faced with the realization that "you
just have to take what comes and go on walking along that dangerous road,
keeping yourself safe with your song."
Shulman takes the reader on the journey of an artist trying to do
anything she can to break through creative block.
She attempts calling on other resources in various ways, and continues
procrastinating until realizing that only the artist can push through creative
block, and there is not a book on tape that can help you do it.
Understanding the theory of how the mind works is not going to help her
create, and she most certainly is not interested in the idea of studying seven
years of math at the graduate level. Deep
breathing and reciting to yourself in a mirror only leads her to question the
sanity of the people telling her to do so.
Several tapes, phone calls and sharpened pencils later, she comes to the
conclusion with Polly's help that creativity is not something that can be
forced. And when it does come, there "no fighting
inspiration." ~Jenna Morton-Ranney,
September 15, 2000.
Mike. "Behaviors, Attitudes,
and Outcomes: A Study of Word Processing and Writing Quality Among Experienced
Word-processing Students." Computers and Composition 11 (1994):
Based on research studies, it has been found that "students who
routinely use the Macintosh use it aggressively, have positive attitudes about
using it, and believe that it improves their writing" (49).
This article cited a particular study in which 34 students each wrote 2
essays. One was composed entirely
on the Mac, and revisions could be made directly on the computer or by hand on a
clean print-out. The other was
composed by hand and then typed into the computer.
Revisions were mad on a clean print-out. Students also completed a survey about their computer usage
habits. The results showed students who did poorly on the Mac written essay
tended to do poorly on the hand-written essays as well.
These students had little or no experience using the Mac on their own and
had had little or no training in using a word-processor.
They tended to use the Mac like a typewriter without a carriage return
because they did not know how to use the computers editing features.
Students who did well on the Mac essay also did well on their hand
written essay. These students
mostly had at least 3 years of using the Mac, felt very comfortable using it,
and preferred it over traditional methods.
They also tended to do revisions completely on the computer and took full
advantage of the word-processor's editing tools. The experienced students found writing on the computer to be
less anxiety inducing and more pleasurable.
Markel states: "It stands to reason, as has been suggested by
numerous researchers, that if students show more enthusiasm for writing, want to
write more often, and are more willing to revise, the quality of their writing
will eventually improve, at least to some extent" (50).
In a 1990 study, it was found that essays written on the computer were
significantly longer with superior technical detail and content.
Once students become accustomed to using the computer for writing, they
refer not to use old methods. But
oppositely, students who are not accustomed to using the computer reject the
idea that it could improve the quality of their writing.
We must keep in mind this article was written 6 years ago, and computers
have come a long way as far as technology, user friendliness, and accessibility. But it still remains true that students who are more
comfortable with a computer will be able to use it more to their benefit.
Since papers almost exclusively must be typed these days, almost all
students will use a computer to at least type the final draft, whether they have
word-processing familiarity or not. I
think it is important, when tutoring, to assess the student's level of comfort
with using a computer, because that could very well be a factor in the quality
(as well as quantity) of their writing. If
the student is scared or inexperienced about using a computer for writing, I
think it may help to tutor that student in using a word processor, if the
student is willing and time permits. I
hope that more emphasis is put on using computers in the future of education. If the studies cited in Markel's article are correctly
indicative of the greater quality of writing computers produce, then it is very
important to make sure all students are familiar, experienced, and comfortable
using a computer and its editing tools. Elly
Marschall, Anne. "Power and the pen: the gendered politics of
peer positioning within the writing process." Australian Journal of
Language and Literacy 20.4 (1997): 303-18.
caught my eye after reading Lester Faigley's "Competing Theories of
Process" in which he mentions all the implications of looking at writing as
a social experience. Marschall stands in opposition to Faigley's view that
"The focus of a social view of writing, therefore, is not on how the social
situation influences the individual, but on how the individual is a constituent
of culture" (Faigley 46). Marschall not only looks at the social situation
as influencing an individual's writing, but she takes it one step further and
delves into the implications of such socially-constructed writings.
excerpts from her second-grade students' "free writings" to illustrate
the differences in topic choice between boys and girls. Like Graves, she found
that girls tended to write stories about the home and school realms, while boys
chose topics like violence, space travel, and sports (304). Additionally, she
found that boys tended to have exclusively male characters in their stories,
while girls included both male and female characters (306). Finally, she found
that many of the characters within her students' stories fell into traditional
gender stereotypes (305). In short, even though the children were allowed to
write about anything they desired, their characters still conformed to
stereotypical social roles.
another device to explicate the social situation in her classroom. In a workshop
atmosphere known as "share chair," the children shared their stories
with their classmates (305). The other children gave feedback, suggested
improvements, and shared their feelings about the piece. Within this public
atmosphere, boys talked significantly more often. They also praised the other
boys' pieces and criticized the girls' writings (311). In all the children's
writings, Marschall noticed that the themes of love and vulnerability were
avoided (314). She proposes that teachers should talk with students about gender
roles and their implications within the students' stories, but she does not say
that she did this herself (317).
I think it is
important to remember the social implications of our writing, especially since
gender roles are taught from such a young age. An example of this occurs when a
woman tries to write a story in which the main character is a man. Unless she
can disassociate in some degree from her femininity, she will not be able to
paint a believable character. In order to reach the largest audience, writers
should be constantly aware of their social background (in relation to race,
gender, and class) so that we can make sure incongruent elements do not leak
into our characters and our work. (Rachel Loeper, 9/18/00)
Saramago, Jose. "Jose
Saramago: The Art of Fiction CLV." The Paris Review, 40:149 (1998)
In this interview, Donzelina
Barroso speaks candidly with Jose Saramago about his writing process and the
extent to which his Portuguese heritage and the history of Lisbon and the
Portuguese people are evident in his fiction.
with a brief account of Saramago's life and literary accomplishments, Barroso
introduces Saramago as the first Portuguese writer ever awarded the Nobel Prize
for Literature. Saramago was twenty-four when his first book, Land of Sin
(Terra do Pecado) was published, followed nineteen years later with his
first collection of poems, The Possible Poems (Os Poemas Possiveis).
In the sixties, he worked as a journalist before the publication of his second
novel, Manual of Painting and Calligraphy. Since 1980, Saramago has
written a number of successful novels, gaining international attention. His
novel The Year of the Death of Ricardo Reis received the Portuguese PEN
Club Prize and the Independent Foreign Fiction Award from Britain. One of his
more recent novels, The Gospel According to Jesus Christ, received the
Portuguese Writer's Association Prize and a nomination for the European Union
literary contest Ariosto. The Portuguese government banned the book from the
competition, however, after being subjected to pressure from the Catholic
Church. Barroso explains that, shortly after the controversy over The Gospel,
Saramago and his wife moved from their home in Lisbon to the island of Lanzarote
in the Spanish Canary Islands.
away, Saramago expresses his "quite normal" approach to writing. When
asked if he had difficulty adjusting to his new work space after the move from
Lisbon, Saramago explains that he did not and that he lives his life
"without dramatizing things." This very sensible, very cognitive
approach is stressed throughout much of the interview. Saramago seems eager to
separate himself from writers who struggle, muse, and "romanticize the act
is the predominant theme throughout the first part of the interview. Saramago
goes into great detail when describing is simple writing process and makes it
sound effortless. He discusses both the cognitive process and the actually act
of typing his stories. When he writes, he "arrange(s) words one after
another, or one in front of another, to tell a story, or to say something that I
consider important or useful, or at least important or useful to me." He
says he does this with ease, simply because it is his job.
Saramago requires himself to write two pages a day and he always prints each
page he finishes. He works directly on a computer, claiming that the switch to a
keyboard from a typewriter did not effect his writing at all because the
computer does not effect his style or his vocabulary. The only revision he does
includes only small changes and he claims that ninety percent of his work is the
first writing he puts down.
He says that he usually has an
idea of where his stories are going to go, but never any rigid plan, or else the
"book would be obliged to exist before it existed." He envisions his
characters to be on strings; they are not independent of him, yet he keeps them
true to their own personalities. He reflects on his belief that writers see
their characters as real people.
Barroso asks Saramago where his
ideas for two of his books came from. As for his book Blindness, he says,
he was sitting in a restaurant when he suddenly thought, "What if we are
all blind?" His idea for The History of the Siege of Lisbon came about a
bit more elusively. Sometime in 1972, he had an idea of writing about a besieged
city, but was unsure of what city and what siege. He combined this with the
notion of the "truth of history," did some research, and developed the
idea from there.
I was fascinated by many of
Saramago's responses, specifically in relation to our own reflections on how we
write. I found it interesting that this man simply views the act of writing as
his job, supposedly never experiences writer's block or any other form of
anguish, and claims to have no "odd habits." I am a bit skeptical,
though. Does writing always come so easily to him as he says? Is revision really
such a small part of his practice? If the information given in this interview is
the truth, though, then maybe some people would benefit from this distance
approach to writing. Remove emotion, loosen the strings on and the
attachment to characters, and view the process as you job, and maybe
writers would experience less turmoil as Saramago does. (Jenna Pearson 9/17/00 -
I'm not sure how the indentation got all off!)
Nancy. "Playing with Reality:
Writing Centers after the Mirror
and Communication, Vol. 51,
No. 1. September 1999, p
Nancy Welch approaches ideals for a writing center environment from a
psychoanalytic perspective. She
talks about Freud's division of the psyche into ego, superego, and id and how,
"Just as ego psychological practice is defended as providing its analysands
with social empowerment, such a writing center practice is defended as providing
students with academic empowerment" (55).
In opposition to the classroom, many people view the writing center as
safe from the same types of academic pressure.
While in the classroom students may be stifled, in the writing center
they are free to express themselves in their own way.
In one particular argument, "the classroom is marked as the site of
the alienating discourse, the pressures of the symbolic order, while the writing
center is imagined as reprieve from and protest against that order" (56).
However, the writing center must still help students to write, and cannot
be free from all structure and modes of productivity.
Thus, Welch introduces the idea of play into the tutoring experience.
Rather than a lax student to student relationship where nothing gets
accomplished, or a harsh and intimidating teacher to student relationship,
playing with the writer's pre-established comfort zones can lead to many new
approaches of writing tutoring.
For example, a student came to the writing center, pronounced herself
blocked and "no writer." The
tutor asked and found out that the student enjoyed writing poetry, and together
they used her comfort with that medium as a starting point for her text-based
paper. Another student came to the
center and said her writing lacked structure.
By examining written items in her life which were necessarily structured
(grocery lists, memos), the student and tutor, "thus play not only with the
possible relationships between genres of writing but between spheres of
living" (63). By taking the
pressure off the immediate assignment at hand, tutors can help writers explore
what they already know about the writing process.
Because she is using a psychoanalytic structure, Welch cautions against
the tutor becoming analyst to the tutee. That
is not her intention. Instead she
believes that by working together and playing with different structures and
ideas, tutor and writer can reach the goal of improved and more comfortable
writing. The tutor and student
"both go to work on the rhetorical situation as in need of
analysis" (61). By allowing
the student to be an outsider to the problem at hand, which is at once hers and
not hers, she can then observe the situation objectively without the personal
pressure often inherent in writing assignments.
Welch warns though, that this type of situation is not easy for tutors.
She says, "This kind of play does take practice.
The pedagogical moves made by the tutors…didn't happen through chance
but resulted from ongoing consideration of how to play against apparent
limits" (64). She then talks about the importance of tutors meeting
together and discussing various approaches, successes and defeats.
By tutors examining what is beneficial about play and passing that joy
along to their tutees, a space can emerge where writers pass naturally through
Freud's stages of development, but in the context of writing.
Specific students "may not match an initial ideal image of the
writing center student, but they carry into their tutorials excessive
experiences, questions, and desires that go far beyond the stated wish for
grammatical perfection" (66). By
delving into what other desires the writing center student has, tutors can
assess what type of approach would best serve their needs.
Certainly, as this article reveals, play can be an extremely beneficial
method of dealing with students who are resistant to their own capabilities.
Perhaps we could never create the ideal writing center, however, Welch
provides us with a wealth of ideas on how to create ideal tutoring sessions.
(Miriam J. Steinberg 9/21/00)
JoAnn M. and Leonard A. "Improving
Our Responses to Student Writing: A Process-Oriented Approach."
Student Writers: Theories on Tutoring and Teaching. Ed. JoAnn M. and Leonard A. Podis. Peter Lang Publishing Inc.: New
York, 1999. (85-95)
Is the traditional system of grading used by many writing teachers today
becoming outdated? Podis and Podis acknowledge here that a recent survey
indicates that the "traditional evaluative response" is still dominant
(85); however, this approach is losing credibility as comments are
"confusing to the students because they … [fail] to differentiate between
low-level and high-level textual problems". (86)
In this approach, all comments, whether noting a major structural problem
or just pointing out a slight grammatical error, are given the same emphasis.
Podis and Podis propose a new approach to grading in which the
"attitude" of the grader and the awareness of
"rhetorical or structural problems that might signal legitimate
intentions rather then simple failure" would aid in "encourage[ing]
student potential" (86).
The main focus of the new system Podis and Podis present seems to be
taking a flawed writing and viewing it as a springboard for improvement rather
then as flawed. (88) The present three examples of disorganized or juvenile
writing and also present the types
of comments that many teachers would be tempted to offer; however, they then
find a strength in the piece and use this to encourage the writer to improve
(88). One of the examples is a
paragraph which is "disorganized and uncertain in focus" but view the
sloppy nature as "the messy residue that can accompany writing as
discovery". (87) So rather
then reverting to a "mean-spirited marginal comment" the teacher
decides to point out that this paragraph is a strong first attempt, though by no
means a finished product (87).
The idea that one must 'accentuate the positive' to be cliché is truly
old hat. Very few children have
ever escaped growing up without being scolded not to say anything if they can't
say something nice. The idea that
this concept so seldom enters into a grading situation, especially when
considering something as sensitive and personal as writing, is a bit shocking.
Robert Herrick identifies words as his children in his poem "Upon
his Verses". The relationship between a writer and his or her prose can be
very personal, and so when the idea of the looming red pen and criticizing
demanding professor arises, this can be a very intimidating experience.
In his article "Closing My Eyes as I Speak" Peter Elbow
discusses how the anticipation of audience can so influence a writing that the
author becomes intimidated or defensive in tone; therefore, the ideas presented
by Podis and Podis are excellent.
Bad grades can be discouraging, this is obvious, but even more
discouraging and frustrating to many students is the "traditional single
submission, evaluative response system". (89)
Turning in only a single draft, especially for new and evolving writers,
does not allow for learning the professor's particular grading strategy, or for
the errors which most people make on the course of becoming a proficient writer.
A multi-drafted system might be far superior; however, this does raise
the problem of laziness. For
students who just want to pass, the multi-drafted system is ideal as they can
sloppily concoct a first draft, allow the teacher to do much of the revising for
them and rewrite the paper for a better grade then they deserve for the effort
put forth. A viable option would be
a 're-write by invitation' system in which teachers can aid those students who
seem to be honestly attempting to write well and allowing them to re-write and
improve, while those that would merely take advantage of the system would suffer
in regards to grades. With so many
personality types, the problem of finding a 'perfect' grading system is perhaps
one that will forever be unsolved. Shauna Kelley, 9/21/00
Rost Goulden. "Implementing
Speaking and Listening Standards: Information
for English Teachers." English
Journal 88.1 (1998) 90-96.
Nancy Rost Goulden wrote this article in regard to the new standards that
the National Council of Teachers of English and International Reading
Association have implemented. The
standard emphasizes "listening, speaking, viewing, and visually
representing in the overall goal statement and includes terms that refer to the
oral language arts in nine of the twelve standards.
A study that examined twenty-nine state standards documents revealed that
every program included both speaking and listening as part of the state
standards" (90). More than
just teaching the basic elements of writing and literature, there is now a
stronger focus on developing students' other skills.
Teachers will also constantly emphasize listening and speaking skills.
Further developing students' scope of knowledge is obviously a wise idea
and a worthwhile venture. The
classroom should not be a place where students mechanically produce written
assignments in order to satisfy course requirements.
Students should emerge from the school system equipped with the skills
and developed talents necessary to succeed in this quickly advancing world.
But surely, speaking and listening are already taking place in classrooms
all over the country. How will
English teachers know if they are meeting the criteria for enhancing students'
abilities in these areas? "Without
a professional definition to guide them, teachers may erroneously assume that
any vocalizing is speaking and any silent, passive behavior is listening"
(90). Should students simply
sitting in the classroom observing the activities around them be credited for
'listening'? The answer is no.
The Speech Communication Association outlines more detailed descriptions
of 'speaking' and 'listening'. They
describe 'speaking' as "both spontaneous informal speech and prepared
formal speeches" (90) and 'listening' as being "centered on a person's
engagement in a complex active process"(91). Just as 'speaking' in the
classroom must enhance the discussion taking place, 'listening' must be active
and lead the listener to a greater understanding of the occurences in the
On page 92 of Implementing Speaking and Listening Standards,
Goulden states, "Perhaps the first rule of a fully participatory classroom
is that the teacher will not depend exclusively on volunteers in class
discussion". Some students
will always attempt to essentially fade into the academic background in
classroom situtions. There are
various reasons for this lack of vocal expression, from shyness to laziness.
For example, Alicia Koundakjian had no problem handling written work, but
had no capacity for being vocal in class. In
her essay in Working With Student Writers, she describes "the clash
of [her] desire to speak with [her] extreme discomfort at the sound of [her]
academic voice" (35). Her
teachers had allowed her to meld into the background for so many years that she
had lost her confidence in speaking publicly.
As a part of this new emphasis in the school system, all students will be
constantly encouraged to actively participate in discussion by listening
to others and speaking. Aside from
developing communication skills in students, this curriculum will produce
well-rounded students who will be more confident with speaking, listening, and
writing in the academic arena.
Thomas C. "Personality
Preferences, Tutoring Styles, and Implications for Tutor Training."
The Writing Center Journal. 14.2
C. Thompson's article focuses on the influence personality preferences have on
tutoring styles, and suggests that acknowledgement of such preferences be
included in tutor training. He
believes that discussing personality type theory in training "can help
tutors become more aware of ways their preferred tutoring styles may match or
clash with the preferred learning styles of their clients" (136).
Although he admits that he can only go into limited depth about
personality type theory in his article, he is able to provide the general basics
in relation to writing and tutoring. He
details his article in several sections, beginning with an overview of
personality type theory, then provides examples of three tutors with different
styles and personality preferences. He
gives credit to psychologist Carl Jung for initially developing type theory, and
Katherine Briggs and Isabel Briggs Myers, who expanded it.
The theory holds that behavior is a result of "the way an individual
takes in information and makes decisions based on that information," and
that an individual's behavior "reflects the source of an individual's
energy and his or her way of managing the environment" (137).
Because individuals are prone to acting in routine or consistent ways,
they can be divided into four different types of behavior preference. Thompson
acknowledges that there are a many various ways of acting, but type theory
asserts that individuals "prefer" certain ways.
proceeds to give a brief overview of the four pairs of personality dimensions
within type theory. The first pair
is extraversion and introversion, which assesses whether an individual looks for
his/her energy outwardly (in the world or environment around him/her) or
inwardly (within his/her own thoughts and ideas). The next pair discussed is the sensing perception and
intuitive perception. The sensing
perception focuses on gathering information by their senses, relying on orderly
and detailed data, while intuitive perception focuses on "patterns and
possibilities suggested by the data rather than on the data themselves"
then describes the third pair, which is the thinking and feeling judgments.
Logical associations are used in thinking judgment when organizing facts
and drawing conclusions (138), while "personal values associated with a
problem" (139) are used in the feeling judgment when making decisions.
The last preference pair is that of judging and perceiving.
Simply put, judging types have "planned, organized lifestyles"
(139) and seek closure, while perceiving types have "flexible, spontaneous
lifestyles" (139) and remain open-ended.
Throughout his explanations of the various pairings, he provides examples
of possible writing and tutoring techniques that may result from personality
preferences. However, since these
types do not encompass all specific individual characteristics, he stresses that
these examples are only possibilities of how various preferences are
manifested in tutoring practices (142).
then emphasizes that there is ongoing study that supports "the connections
between personality preferences and teaching and learning behaviors implied by
personality type theory" (140). He
believes that a tutor "who understands different approaches is less likely
to try to force the student into a single ('correct') approach, and is more
likely to be able to understand and work with the student's preferred
approach" (141). Knowing that
there are different preferences can make a difference in how a tutor may
approach an individual tutee's session. It
can help a tutor connect with a particular tutee who may follow the same types,
or it may help indicate why a tutor and a tutee aren't making progress because
of their differing types. He warns
against tutors "guessing" their tutee's personality preferences, but
emphasizes the benefits of teaching type theory to tutors, which include
awareness of their own type so that they know their partiality in their tutoring
styles, and working with the strengths within their preferences (145).
In conclusion, he encourages writing center directors to use type theory
as a means to help tutors anticipate the various writing processes they will
come across in tutoring sessions (146). Thompson
provides yet another element that needs to be taken into consideration
concerning the relationship between tutors and tutees.
Considering how individual everyone is, especially in their writing
processes, any knowledge of creating connections or enhancing understanding is a
welcome advantage for a tutor learning how to do his/her job. -- Kristine Reyes, 9/23/00
Pamela A. "Teaching Process
and Product: Crafting and
Responding to Student Writing Assignments."
PS: Political Science
& Politics. Sept 1999.
593. Expanded Academic ASAP.
Accessed Sept 22, 2000.
In "Teaching Process and Product:
Crafting and Responding to Student writing Assignments", Pamela
Zeiser attempts to come at the writing process from a different perspective than
that which we, as student tutors, are used to. She calls for teachers, specifically political science
professors, to recognize writing as a process and not a product.
She asks what the value is of requiring a student to hand in an
assignment if the student merely regurgitates information and is not left with
any lasting knowledge? Even if on
rare occasion a student does come away with a firm grasp of the concepts, she
still believes that "while students do learn and process information in
performing these assignments, none of these school writing assignments promotes
writing primarily for the sake of the learner, and none of them encourages
students to make school knowledge personally their own" (para 4).
Papers should not be about the grade; they stem from the need to for a
student to prove that s/he is able to manipulate the knowledge adequately and
should be treated as such. The
problem develops when a teacher cannot decipher if a students does not
understand the material or is simply not able to write in a manner which
reflects that understanding.
Zeiser suggests that teachers need to rethink their approach:
Writing is a
recursive process. When we write articles for publication or papers for
conferences, we go through a process of thinking, writing and revising, followed
by more thinking, more writing, and more revising. In this way, we develop and
improve our critical thinking and writing abilities. Yet, professors rarely ask
their students to do the same. We typically treat writing as a product rather
than a process. By doing so, we fail to teach students the benefits of drafting
and revising. (para 2)
I think it's important to realize that teachers also believe there should
be much more involved in a writing process than merely cranking out a paper to
get a grade. As someone who values
the writing process myself and will be a facilitator of that process for student
writers, it's good to know that professors, such as Zeiser, believe that the
process is as important as the final product itself. That takes pressure off me to help a student merely earn a
few more points on his/her final grade and allows me to help them simply become
better writers and communicators. Zeiser
points out that writing is an important skill that any professional uses, and
that if a teacher does not emphasize the need for writing as a process, then
s/he is robbing the student of an invaluable skill.
She goes into the specifics that political science teachers can
incorporate into their course planning, but continues to place major emphasis on
the need of teachers and professors across the board to understand that writing
itself must be encouraged and valued as a skill in the classroom and
beyond.~Jenna Morton-Ranney, September 23, 2000
Robert R. "Audience Involved:
Toward a Participatory Model of Writing." Computers and Composition
14 (1997): 361-374.
I found this article to be especially interesting and appropriate to read
after reading Peter Elbow's discussion of eliminating audience during the
thought processes of writing. Robert
R. Johnson could not be more polar in his belief.
Johnson mostly works with technical writing students, and in this
article, focuses on the writing of technical manuals for technological products,
specifically a voice mail system. He
says, "Audience theory historically has been central to technical
communication" (362), but calls for a rethinking of the idea of the
audience as it has been discussed before. He
puts the theories of audiences into two camps: first, a non-specific group who
needs to be "informed, persuaded, or entertained" (363), and second,
"a fictional construct of the writer's imagination" (363).
Think how students develop an idea of what a new professor may want from
them. Johnson also discusses how
the audience is not included in models of collaborative writing.
Collaborative writing can be either peer editing, or multiple writers for
one final pieces, but it is still only the writers being involved.
"Missing from most discussions of collaborative writing is audience
as an actual living, breathing figure in the discourse production…. They are
only written or spoken to, not with" (363).
I found this observation to be interesting and very true.
It is rare to see "I" in a paper, but even rarer to see
"you." The audience is
kept at a distance from writing.
In technical writing (especially writing manuals) the audience is key.
Johnson describes a manual for a voice mail system that "had most
likely been written by system experts, probably the developers themselves,
because the descriptions of many features were cryptic or jargon laden and thus
difficult to understand" (368). Johnson
and his class undertook the task of rewriting the manual in a more audience
friendly manner. Their first step
was to get actual feedback from the audience themselves, by means of surveys and
interviews. Obviously, this method
is completely antithetical to Elbow's theory.
Instead of ignoring the idea of an audience, these students were
actually, literally speaking to their audience about what they wanted to read
and how they wanted to read it. "Putting
information into a user's task vocabulary is common sense among accomplished
technical communicators" (370).
Can Johnson's theories be applied to other forms of writing?
It seems almost elementary to focus on audience when writing something
like a manual or help file, but what about something like a literary analysis?
Johnson briefly touches on the possibilities of the "involved
audience" in other realms. I
think this comment really hit the nail on the head: "Audiences who actually
receive the intended document can have interesting effects on a writer's
conception of what needs to be produced. At
times, the writer might be just plain wrong about the genre the audience needs.
At other times, a single genre might not be enough to satisfy audience
needs" (374). How appropriate
is it for the student to visit the teacher and discuss every element of her
paper with her professor? I'm not
sure how many students would be comfortable with this, or how far professors
would go into a paper with a student, before it is even graded. It could go from discussing main ideas to going line by line.
In an educational environment, I don't know how applicable Johnson's
theories are. The audience to a college paper is only one person, the professor,
which brings a different dynamic. But
I think talking to other professors and students (and tutors) is a good
replacement for going right to the professor.
It is like using a test group before going right to the market with your
product. I think Johnson makes a
good point in that sometimes we are dead wrong about what is good for our
audiences, because we are too caught up in our own minds (which may better
understand the material than other minds).
In essence, he is close to talking about decentering, like Flower. This article was an interesting contrast to the Elbow
article, but like Elbow's theories, its feasibility in certain situations is
called into question. -Elly Zupko, September 24, 2000.***
Tony. "Provocative Revision." The Writing Center Journal 12.2
In this article Fulwiler begins with his belief that "teaching
writing is teaching re-writing," (190), and proceeds to outline four
methods by which tutors can help their tutees to recreate their paper in a way
that will make it more pleasing to a reader. He does warn, however, that a few
of his methods will only work in an academic setting if the instructor is open
to non-mainstream term papers (204).
First, he proposes
that students should limit their first drafts; "Generalization is death to
good writing" (191). By limiting the topic as well as primary elements
within a paper, the writer avoids "over-generalization, prejudgement, and
directional uncertainty" (193). He notes that all these traits are symptoms
of first drafts that should be recognized and weeded out by the tutee. In other
words, we need to recognize when something begins with another form of
"once upon a time." As a method for limiting the scope of a project,
he recommends adding a local flavor to the paper; if it is about pollution,
visit a local lake and see first-hand what the consequences of pollution are
Second, he recommends adding elements that will bring a personal
voice into the paper. If it is a creative work, add as much real or created
dialog as you can. If it is a research paper, take on-site interviews with
experts on your topic (196-7).
Third, Fulwiler suggests what he calls "switching," which
involves "reporting the same events as the previous draft, but doing so
from a different perspective" (198). He adds that this can be done by
"switching pronouns or, in a more complex way, by role-playing a third
person" (198-9). This mechanism allows the writer too look at his/her story
from another point of view that could in turn make the piece of writing more
accessible to a reader.
Lastly, Fulwiler proposes something that he knows just won't fly
with conventionally-minded professors: putting research into the form of a play,
a newscast, a series of diary entries, or any other creative form to which it
lends itself. Sometimes it was difficult to differentiate what he actually
advocated within the academic realm, but regardless many of his ideas could
prove very useful in the creative realm, if nowhere else. (I don't mean to imply
that they're completely separate realms! I mean, they could overlap…) He
called this last method "transforming" and gave several student
success stories to accompany it.
It seemed like the focus of this article centered around students'
creative revision rather than the actual tutor's responsibility within the
rewriting arena. I think that maybe he just added a few sentences at the
beginning and end of the article so that it could be published in this
particular journal, but the article nevertheless gives a great perspective on
revision strategies that can be taken advantage of by tutors as well. (Rachel
Outlining as a Tool for Making Writing Visible." Computers and
Composition 14 (1997): 409-421.
found this article to be appropriate for this week after looking at the student
writing samples and their varying uses of outlines.
Price begins the article by citing his feeling and the feelings of other
researchers that "pen to paper" outlines are dinosaurs in the
composing process. "Flower and
Hayes criticized the outline as a product-based plan, the kind of plan that
occurs 'when the composing process is governed by a concern for the form of the
finished product,' and they suggested that the difficulty of producing a formal
outline can slow the writer down" (410).
Price describes the pen to paper outline as "textbook format."
Essentially, the outline becomes a document by itself, not part of the
process on the road to the finished product.
A formal outline "acts as a rigid blueprint the student must follow
when drafting, with any violation (or new ideas) being punished by the teacher
as a violation of contract" (410). The
true original purpose of the outline was lost in the use of the pen and paper,
because the form was difficult to edit, and there was little way to distinguish
headings and hierarchies besides arbitrary indentations.
I think Price hit the nail on the head with this analysis of the formal
hand-written outline. I remember
writing a paper in high school where we were explicitly told that the outline
had to match the final draft. "If
you change your paper, you must also change your outline."
How is that helpful? Like
Price stated, the outline becomes a product itself instead of a means to a
of the inherent problems in hand-written outlines, they have been abandoned by
many students as "just something the teacher made us do." They tended not to see it as a tool, but rather a hassle.
Price's argument is that outlining can be a very useful composing tool
now that we have the aid of electronic outlining software.
"Outlining on the computer rather than on paper, one can create a
much more visible hierarchy, not cramped by handwriting, tiny labels, or
irregular indentation, and one can investigate the hierarchy immediately
changing order, level, phrasing, or sequence without recopying, scribbling over,
or drawing arrows" (409). Similarly
to composing drafts on the computer, outlining on the computer allows for
constant revision. It is simple to
add information, and essentially the outline can be created while the research
is being done. "Electronic
outlining becomes central to the writing process, instead of an annoying stage
required by the teacher" (409).
includes a specific example wherein he collaborated on a technical writing
project using electronic outlining. He
lists these steps as part of the outlining process, which are all obviously
easier to undertake on the computer screen:
potential topics and recording them in a list
notes, comments, rough drafts of sentences and paragraphs under topics, as
one topic into its subtopics
various low-level topics and creating a new topic to group them under
a grouping that does not work
and demoting subtopics and topics
a recognizable sequence for all topics at a particular level
items in the same group the same grammatical form
that all topics of the same type appear at the same level throughout the outline
to research materials to ensure no valid topics have been left out
a whole paragraph, to find out whether the subtopic really belongs where it is
(learning by writing it down)
is very hard to perform these procedures on a written draft, or even on a
written outline. An electronic
outline provides for these tasks simply and effectively, which does outstanding
things for the coherent structure of a paper.
Certain outlining programs allow you to use color, font, or size to
denote a certain level of subtopics, or look at only one level of topics at a
time. This provides for ease in
concludes by saying, "The shift from pen and paper to electronic media has
given us a software tool that dramatically shifts attention from a momentary
product to an ongoing process, in which structural analysis and constructive
thinking are played out on the screen, many previously half-conscious activities
become visible, and the [writer] takes advantage of the very presence and
changeableness of the emerging outline to watch the… writing unfold"
(421). I noticed in the writing
sample we looked at on Monday that the writer put down an outline and then
followed it exactly. She may or may
not have realized that her ideas were not always connected to each other, but
she still felt compelled to follow the concrete outline she had in front of her.
She also left out transitions between the headings of her outlines.
We must take into consideration that she did not have a computer at her
disposal, but if she did, how could her writing have been different? It would have been easier to shift her ideas into logical
order. The outline would not have
seemed as unchangeable, and thus would have left room for sudden ideas and
reading this article, it almost seems old-fashioned for Goucher to have students
compose their writing samples on paper. I
think having students would perform better on the computer. One reason is that a type written piece looks like a
final draft, and the student may be more inclined to make it more finalized.
Another reason is the ease in which revision can take place. Students may realize mistakes or disjointed thoughts or
missing sections, but it is extremely difficult to adjust those errors with pen
and paper. And on a computer, a
detailed outline can easily morph into a draft by changing topics into sentences
and adding transitions. I think
Price made a very strong point in his article, and I think electronic outlining
could greatly strengthen the organization and support of a student paper.
Zupko October 4, 2000
Jane. "Pedagogy of the Distressed." College English.
Vol. 52, No. 6, Oct.
In her essay, "Pedagogy of the Distressed," Jane Tompkins,
largely through personal testimony, criticizes traditional classroom methods and
presents new strategies for effective and meaningful teaching and learning.
She presents traditional teaching through the metaphor of banking, based
on Paulo Freire's Pedagogy of the Oppressed.
When teaching is like banking, educators try to deposit as much
information as possible into their students and the students blankly receive
these deposits without processing the material themselves.
Tompkins includes this as well as all elements of traditional and
restrictive classroom behaviors into "the performance model" (654).
She believes that academics, especially those who were particularly high
achievers as children, have a fear of not appearing smart enough or capable
enough in their classrooms. She
says that, "as children they/we successfully imitated the behavior of
adults before we were in fact ready to do so" (654).
That is, learning imitation at an early age and earning praise for such
imitation, in effect limits our openness to new ideas and creative exploration
as we grow older. Becoming used to
imitation and praise, as teachers we are hesitant to break this model and give
our students a chance to say something we haven't thought of, or appear in any
Another obstacle to the "true" teaching which Tompkins yearns
for is the common position in academia " that thinking about teaching is
the lowest of the low" (655). In
an educational environment where the focus often lies outside of education,
little can be accomplished to provide students with stimulating learning
experiences. Tompkins shares the
moment at which she realized something in her classroom needed to change. Now, she says, "I have come to think that teaching and
learning are not a preparation for anything but are the thing itself"
(656). Hence, the learning process
is of value as a process and an experience, and not in relation to later
Both in teaching and in tutoring, the professor/tutor needs to encourage
the student for the sake of the student's education.
While a writing tutor could easily rewrite a paper for the tutee, little
good would be accomplished in doing so. In
the same way, then, when referring to student presentations in the classroom,
Tompkins says that, "in some cases the students don't deal with the
material as well as I could, but that is exactly why they need to do it.
It's not important for me to polish my skills, but they do need to
develop theirs and to find a voice" (657).
Education is about the students and not about the teacher.
For the student to try and fail is still more valuable than for the
teacher to perform and lecture in a way which is detached from the students' own
Tompkins discusses a course she taught in which students led the classes
and where she believes a new type of educational format emerged. Students became emotionally involved in the material and the
discussions and the class was not sterile but rather was extremely personal.
Tompkins says this was the best class she ever taught and that she will
never return to her old model of teaching.
She closes her essay with this: "A kinder, more sensitive attitude
toward one's own needs as a human being, in place of a desperate striving to
meet professional and institutional standards of arguable merit, can bring
greater sensitivity to the needs of students and a more sympathetic
understanding of their positions, both as workers in the academy and as people
in the wider world" (660). This
essay expresses beautiful sentiments about the true value of the right kind of
educational environment and how the teacher's attitude about him or herself can
dictate the learning experience. Teachers
and tutors alike can learn from her experiences and advice to create positive
and thought-provoking learning experiences free from performing anxieties or
desperation to fit an irrelevant standard.
J. Steinberg 10/4/00)
Steve. "Humor and the Serious Tutor."
The Writing Center Journal 13.2 (1993): 3-12.
We can all agree that one of the main responsibilities of writing center
tutors is to help their tutees. But
is simply improving their grades the only way to help them? I don't think so. Many
students are very uneasy about doing written work for their classes.
Aside from assisting with the mechanics of their papers, tutors should
also attempt to ease any discomfort the students may have about writing.
After all, approaching the task in a more comfortable manner will surely
augment the quality of the finished product.
Steve Sherwood greatly believes that humor is a wonderful tool for tutors
to use. In "Humor and the
Serious Tutor", he states, "I agree that we need to encourage an
enlightened, collaborative environment in writing centers… I believe that we
can achieve this goal through the intelligent and humane use of humor" (3).
Sherwood does not believe that humor should belie the purpose of the
tutoring session at all. It should only serve to make the communication between the
two parties involved a little smoother.
But how often are tutors attempts at humor successful? After all, the tutees have come to the tutors in search of
assistance, feedback, and understanding. Inappropriately
applied, joking with tutees can harm the working relationship that the tutors
are attempting to build. "Our attempts at wit, however well-intended, may fall
flat or backfire resulting in confused, wounded, impatient, or angry student
writers" (4). For many,
writing is a deeply personal experience. Sharing
their work is extemely difficult for many students-especially considering the
fact that the tutors are often strangers. Should
tutors take the risk of making light of students' work?
The answer is no. The tutors must not laugh at the work, but find ways
to lightheartedly discuss aspects of it. Above
all, the attempt on the part of the tutors must be to laugh with the tutees, not
at them. The tutors must take
careful cues from the tutees. The
joking must not be taken too far; it should not interfere with the improvement
of the paper.
In the very effort to improve the papers of tutees, tutors will often
need to point out mistakes or make suggestions for alterations in the body of
the work. Humor can also be very
useful in these sometimes fragile situations.
The tutors must not be too timid to discuss aspects of the papers that
could stand improvement, but should not offend the writers in any way.
Sherwood notes, "In telling a student our version of the truth, we
must make sure it hurts as little as possible… hard lessons go down more
easily and more palatably with a dose of [humor]" (8).
While expressing any possible problems with a student's work, a tutor
must be aware of the implications of their comments.
A criticism given too coldly might have quite a detrimental effect on the
student writers. A bit of humor can
'soften the blow' of a potentially hurtful observation about the tutees' work.
And though humor is an effective choice for tutors, it is not always the
best choice. "We must learn to
gauge how each individual will respond and act accordingly" (8).
Some students will not appreciate any attempts at humor, and others will.
The tutors must note the demeanor of the tutees and proceed in a fashion
that will inspire the most creativity and comfort for both individuals involved.
Charita Moore 10/5/00
Greg. "Validating Cultural
Difference in the Writing Center." The
Writing Center Journal. 12.2
this article, Greg Lyons discusses the importance of accepting and welcoming
alternative modes of thinking and communicating (145).
His concern is that students who may be considered non-traditional or
minorities will be alienated by the "unquestionable authority,"
established by Kenneth Bruffee's "expert-novice model of teaching and
learning" (146). These
minority students can be differentiated by "ethnicity, race, gender, sexual
preference, age, class and occupational history" (146) and sometimes
considered out of the mainstream culture. Lyons
stresses the need to "help students explore differences and validate
alternative perspectives within educational discourse" (146).
emphasis is on authority as a social construct.
His example is the "expert-novice" approach, which puts the
power of authority in the hands of the professors, leaving little or no
authority to the students. He feels
that "collaborative classrooms can enforce conformity, that consensus can
encourage repression by authoritative standards as 'natural' rather than as
socially determined" (147). Teachers
often do not take into account the cultural differences that affect the
students' perspective and experience, thus alienating them (148).
In such a case, it is the tutor's job to "discourage students from
merely mimicking their teacher's authoritative voices" (147), and instead
encourage the students to challenge these "institutional discourses"
by communicating their own alternative perspective. This notion echoes what has been discussed in personal
student tutor essays, notably Emily Fawcett and Noelle Howey, who feel that
students should have enough confidence to express their own ideas in the face of
an authoritative professor.
Lyons notes John Trimbur's "utopian consensus" model of teaching,
which "encourages students to discover, explore, and negotiate their
differences rather than to accommodate their viewpoints to larger, more
authoritative discourse communities" (147).
As we have seen in writing process theories, it is easier to write when
you feel strongly about something because you are personally invested in the
paper. Allowing students to explore their own perspectives in
writing enables them to learn more about themselves, strengthen their writing,
and gain a broader realm of knowledge since they are not simply sticking to the
"standard" or established way of thinking. Thus, Lyons warns against tutors "suggesting changes in
essay content lest we limit what students intend to say in their own
writing" (148). He reinforces
the notion that tutors should help students bring forth their own ideas and
explains that tutors must accomodate the change from the
"expert-novice" model to the "utopian consensus" model.
Tutors should help students detach themselves in terms of personal
feelings towards a topic (150) so that they can differentiate feelings from
rational argument and clarify what they mean to say (153), and also use the
students' cultural perspective or emotional reaction as a starting point for a
paper (152). Tutors can be a guide
for filtering the student's thought process in terms of maintaining academic
discourse throughout the paper (154).
this advice can be applied to almost any tutoring situation, as we have
established the need to accept that every writer is individual in many ways. Granted, this article was written eight years ago and the
need for cultural acceptance might have been greater, but cultural differences
are still an important factor in both writing and tutoring.
Unfortunately,this article does not go into much depth on the possible
problems or tensions between a tutor and tutee who may have cultural
differences, although it does encourage the fostering of such differences in
writing. He emphasizes that
"validating cultural difference is a way to give minority students a
cultural voice and a critical method in the process of utopian consensus"
(154), but he fails to fully explore such cultural differences and their effect
on writing or the writing process. --Kristine Reyes 10/8/00
Bharti. "Putting Emotion Into
Your Fiction." The Writer.
September 1998: 20-22. WilsonWeb.
October 9, 2000.
Kirchner illustrates in "Putting Emotion Into Your Fiction" the
importance of identifying with one's characters and helping the audience to
identify with them as well. She
stresses some of the techniques writers should utilize including symbolism,
innovative description and lively dialogue.
"Laugh, scream and weep before your keyboard; make your reader
feel" (para 2). For Kirchner,
a story cannot be real unless there is passion behind every word and thought a
character experiences. A writer
must understand what s/he is writing about; it must be real to him/her.
This does not, however, limit an author to his/her own real life
experiences. She advises that while
writers do follow the old adage of writing what you know, that one can explore
beyond one's own world as long as the passion continues with that exploration.
Kirchern's main point is that a piece of writing cannot be real with
emotion and understanding. The
writer needs to understand the characters completely, to make them his/her own.
S/he must understand why they do the things they do.
While she is commenting on fiction writing, as peer tutors we must pay
attention to her words of wisdom. No,
academic papers do not contain characters to serve as voices for that passion,
but that does not mean that passion is absent in academic writing.
We all know from experience that writing about something we truly care
about is important and makes the writing process much easier.
How do we translate that into something that a tutee can use to put
passion into his/her paper? One need not have characters to speak of passion; it comes
across in the words themselves. A
reader can, as Arnie demonstrated with Charita's response, discern between real
and forced interest in a paper.
The key, then, is to make the paper something that a writer can be
passionate about. Maybe s/he isn't
as keen on King Lear as Shauna was, so let's try another Shakespeare.
Hamlet, perhaps? What
did s/he like about it? Dislike
about it? Did it really piss that student off when Ophelia committed
suicide? Did that make him/her
angry? Why? Does s/he blame Hamlet's treatment of Ophelia and feel the
direct result was for her to kill herself?
Bingo-the student then has a topic and can develop a thesis that s/he
really cares about. Something s/he
can be passionate about. Emotions
and feelings are what drive people to read fiction; shouldn't that also be what
drives people to read academic writing? No,
you probably won't read about which character slept with his sister's aunt's
step-daughter, but you will get to read about why Hamlet should be punished for
his treatment of Ophelia or how the latest breakthrough in genetics could lead
to a cure for cancer.
Now that is something to be passionate about.~Jenna Morton-Ranney,
October 12, 2000
Jonathan. "What Ails the
Ailing Writer." Word Words:
Learning through writing at Boise State University.
Nov. 1998. <http://www.idbsu.edu/wcenter/ww.94.htm>
magic or science? The main issue addressed in Pierson's article is how both
possible views of writing causes problems to beginning writers, or rather, ails
As Pierson points out
"Our culture loves science" (1) and hence, the tendency seems to be
towards trying to fit writing into "another set of terms" so that the
process of learning to write can he defined by "axioms, and formulas, a set
of scientific writing rules" (1). These
rules, however, are merely grammar, which is, according to Pierson, the
"catch all term for the writing rules of the universe" (1).
This causes writers to have problems in that "the rules of grammar
are elusive" (1), and that when one thinks in terms of scientific rules,
writing must be "good," or "right", and the idea of good
writing is certainly much more abstract (2).
avid reader would agree with Pierson's claim that 'writing is powerful
stuff" (2), which is how he begins his description of how writing is magic.
This causes beginning writers to ail because, as any fantasy reader can
attest, magic is something one "either possesses or doesn't" (2).
Unlike the scientific view, in which one can at least learn the rules and
hopefully "catch on" (2), the magical view is a mere bewilderment to a
his views and definitions of writing are certainly simplistic, Pierson does make
a very valid point in his proposal of a cure, namely that a writer's true
"illness" comes in his or her "misconceptions about writing"
article seems very applicable to not only a discussion of how people write, but
his views could also be applied to our recent discussion of Writing Centers.
Some recent readings have suggested that people either feel Writing
Centers are scientific labs where they can bring a paper and a tutor can look it
over, apply the proven "A Paper" formula, and hand it back to the
student; others view the Writing Center as a magic realm where they bring a
paper that a tutor might cast a spell on it and make it work.
what is the truth about writing and Writing Centers?
Well, they aren't Magic Realms, or Science Labs, and writing doesn't fit
neatly into Magic or Science. Pierson
suggests that writing is actually a combination of "intuition and
knowledge" (3), which seems valid. This
would also apply to tutoring. Tutors
have knowledge of what a good paper looks like, and how it reads, and by meeting
a tutee and reading a paper, tutors develop intuitive approaches to helping the
student improve not only this piece, but his or her writing in general.--Shauna
Wendy. "Writing from the Tips of Our Tongues: Writers, Tutors, and
Talk." The Writing Center Journal 14.1 (1993): 30-43.
In this article, Wendy Bishop
begins, "Talk is central to what we do as writers and as humans," (30)
and she continues throughout the article to articulate the ways in which verbal
and written language play influential parts within the writing process, and more
specifically, within the writing center.
writes about the voices of writers within the writing center. She offers a
unique perspective that isn't seen so often in undergraduate studies. She quotes
novelist Clarence Major as saying, "Most students in college today aren't
going to have an opportunity to be in touch with who they are and where they
came from in such an intense way ever again as they will in a workshop"
(31). College students take workshops for granted, and even go so far as to
express doubt that they can offer a unique perspective in writing at such a
young age. Bishop denies this, advocating the unique, transient position of the
college student still intimately connected with his/her childhood, but only one
step away from the "real world." When a student identifies with their
roots and finds their voice in writing, she very beautifully calls it a
"wedding of voice and personal history." She believes tutors and
teachers can help students to reach this beautiful union by simply listening to
Next, she goes
into the question of authority within the writing center and within a teaching
situation and how authority depends on conversation and voice. She believes that
the "subversive nature of writing centers" stems from the opportunity
it gives students to speak to one another. Often, they find things wrong with
the way classrooms are run, the way teachers interact with their writing
students, or the way a particular teacher grades papers. The centers pose a
threat by giving students a medium through which they can converse with one
another about the dynamics of the educational system in which they find
In the section
entitled "Connecting Talking to Teaching," Bishop skims the surface of
learning that takes place outside the classroom. Without her saying it
explicitly, it's easy to tell that this is one teacher who would be elated to
learn that her students found themselves talking about a particular poem or
about the writing process one Friday night while drinking in the dorms. As a
writer, she highlights the many opportunities to gain stories and perspectives
that she encounters in everyday life. As a writer and a teacher, she recalls all
the occasions in which she has learned from or been inspired by students in her
classes through written or verbal conversations.
talks about "Collaborative Talk" within all composing processes, but
most specifically within the realm of creative writing. She outlines the
relationship between Hans Ostrom, who is arguably her poetic muse, and herself.
Through constant exchange of poetry, the two share work, critique, and drive one
another to new levels of language manipulation. Taking collaborative talk one
step farther, Bishop draws a picture of the community of writers, within which
each writer gains strength, feedback, and validation from all the other members.
What better way to validate thirty-seven hours spent musing over a poem until
the writer "got it right," than to be able to share his/her tale with
someone who will understand? Lastly and perhaps most importantly, conversation
within the community of writers advocates revision as writers' critique one
another's work and encourage one another to take risks they might not have
a member of the writing center community, she paints a picture of the writing
center as a safe and quiet place where conversations take place and
opportunities are realized. Concluding, she sums up the duties of composing
teachers, writing center tutors, and poetic muses alike by calling them
"conveners, reflectors, responders, senior-learners, coaches,
language-consultants, co-writers, and, overall, interested listeners" (42).
(Rachel Loeper, 11/2/00)
John. "Literacy Networks:
Toward Cultural Studies of Writing and Tutoring."
The Writing Center Journal. 12.2
Trimbur finds a great deal of value in researching writing centers
because of the unique opportunities that they offer.
In writing centers, tutors and tutees have candid discussions on content,
grammar, and many other aspects of the writing process.
Researchers are able to study students interacting and openly discussing
their work in an environment unlike any other.
Trimbur notes that studying teachers and their students offers a very
different perspective. In many
cases, students do not feel comfortable enough in the prescence of their
professors to be totally honest and ask all of the questions that perhaps they
should. No students want their
professors to have negative images of them.
Consequently, some pupils will refrain from asking pertinent questions to
avoid feeling inadequate or unknowledgeable.
But peer tutoring situations often alleviate these concerns. "The relationship between tutor and tutee, precisely
because it is usually not entangled in the reward system of grading and
evaluation, appears to present us with a relatively 'uncontaminated' social
matrix to study the naturally occuring language of students struggling with
their writing" (174). Students
in search of assistance will be more open to a peer who is not the individual
assigning grades to his or her work. And
because tutor and tutee are closer to one another in age and experience, the
situation may not be as intimidating either.
The author goes on to discuss the literacy "networks" that
students work with throughout their lives (175).
These networks "describe the multiple ways social experience brings
individuals and groups into contact with written texts and how these encounters
shape orientations and attitudes toward the production and use of writing"
(175). Every person has a different
experience as far as learning in school and at home. I feel that I was very fortunate in my experience in both
realms. At home, my mother
encouraged me to read and I greatly enjoyed it [and still do]. I can remember times that my mother and I would curl up in
bed over the weekend and read our books for hours.
While other kids would get money or sweets when they got a good report
card, my mother would buy me new books… and I loved it!
I also got a strong foundation for reading in the schools that I
attended. And I realize that some
children are not as lucky as I was. The literacy networks are not so strong in many cases.
But these networks are present long past the times when children are
simply learning about reading and writing.
Trimbur discusses the many different networks that students form for
themselves throughout their lives. They
complete their work for their academic classes, but also find other
opportunities to be creative. He
writes, "Our students themselves think that the kind of reading and writing
they do on their own, unassigned, outside of school, for their own interest or
pleasure, doesn't count, and so they keep it segregated from their academic
experience" (177). These
networks include writing for themselves or for their own private purposes. They must write for their classes partly as a means to
an end, which is a grade. But many
students choose to use other creative networks for writing.
Some write poetry, short stories, fiction, graffitti, letters, or
journals (177). No matter what it
is, writing is writing. Any practice or exposure to it is valuable in some way.
Whether it is the more structured and practical training received in the
classroom or the freer, self-motivated experiences that students may have, any
attempt at writing can only serve to teach valuable lessons and better a
Gadrie. "Moving Beyong
Correctness: Helping Good Writers Get Better."
Learning through writing at Boise State University.
In this article Edmunds gives voice to something that I forsee being a
problem in tutoring: good writers. Edmunds
discusses her theory that often
professors are "so overwhelmed responding to writers who need help that
those who hold their own are just given grades with a few specific comments.'
(2) This doesn't necessarily seem
like such a bad grading policy; however, Edmunds feel that "it seems an
injustice not to challenge good writers to improve" as this is what is done
for "their less successful peers." (2)
Edmunds learned of the lack of challenge provided for good writers first
hand. She claims to have been one
of those "kids everybody hated in high school English" (1) because of
her ability to write quickly and do well. Because
of this ability, she viewed revision as "a waste of time" (1),
understandably so, for if one can get an A on the first try with minimal effort,
why try to improve? She learned,
upon becoming a writing tutor, that even strong writers have room for
improvement. Edmunds relates one
tutoring session in which she became "frustrated"
because the tutee was "so strong" a writer that she wasn't
"open to many suggestions" (2). I
can easily see this problem arising in a tutoring session, provided that this
takes place in a Writing Center where they have overcome the stigma of only bad
writers needing the center.
Edmunds feels that the main difficulty in this comes in that good writers
"deserve to be shown a full range of writing options" (2), a lot of
which are shown to lesser writers. Strong
writers, however, who have found the A paper formula, are seldom confronted with
other options. She believes that,
though often these writers "akready have a good grasp of correct usage and
academic conventions" and yet often "need to see how their writing
fits into their major field." (3) She suggests that writers in basic
classes who have already tackled the basics, need "pushing. . . .even
further" so that they might learn their potential. (4) Edmunds asks
"Who gets the responsibility of focusing on these already capable
Edmunds suggests that "professors should be able to help each
student turn in an even better paper" with each assignment, but also
acknowledges that this task seems "daunting…given the size of many
classes." (2) Enter the
I feel that Edmunds points out many valid concerns, and though I must
admit, at first the idea of being so presumptuous as to assume that I should
push strong writers seemed arrogant, the more I think about it, the more I
believe that this could lead to a stronger writing center.
Current tutor Joe Kranak told me that a big problem he encounters as a
tutor is that the better the paper is, the more ideas he gets.
I have found this true in my own experience.
If I read a strong paper, I often find myself getting very excited,
thinking "oh, they could do this, that would be cool" and such other
thoughts. I think tutors might often be afraid to express these
sentiments to a good writer, but if they do, this can help in giving the writer
range. Exploring many options will
help to make a writer more versatile, which is arguably very beneficial.
Often strong students are 'lost in the shuffle' and might never make it
to the Writing Center for a number of reasons; nonetheless, I think sending
strong writers to the Writing Center would be very useful, both to tutors and
writers. I really think this should
be considered as a new "angle" for the center.--Shauna Kelley, 11/3/00
West, Patricia. "A Picture is
Worth a Thousand Words." The
Writer. March 1996. 14-16.
Accessed WilsonWeb. Nov
It's a writer's worst nightmare.
There is nothing more terrifying to a writer than staring at the blank
screen or sheet of paper, waiting for words that simply won't come.
Everyone seems to have a suggestion for solving it, but most involve
banging your head against a wall for several hours or similarly useless
techniques. Van West, however,
suggests looking at a picture when writers are stumped.
The idea sounds simple enough, foolhardy even.
Where would a story come from in a picture of yourself or loved ones?
Van West goes on to illustrate all the crucial sense that looking at a
picture can tap. Imagine the wealth
of visual description you can get from a photograph, adding in your own
imaginative details. She speaks of
closing your eyes and trying to picture the scene in your head, recalling all
the details you can. Remember or
imagine the sights and sounds that are around you as the character. Why is she smiling so? Why
is he looking at her? Where is that
shadow coming from? Why is it
A single photograph can be the foundation for all the crucial components
of a story, as Van West points out: characters,
setting, dialogue and plot. The
photographs themselves don't have to be exciting; simply look at them as though
you've never seen them before. Forget
that they are the people you know and explore them as the potential they present
in the single moment in time captured on film.
But what of academic writing? Can
a writer blocked on the topic of economic crisis management solve his/her
writer's block by looking at a picture? A
graph? I don't think that staring
at the picture I have up of my roommate and me above my computer is going to
help me with my next political science paper.
(Though in it I am wearing a shirt that says "I only sleep with
Democrats," but I'm not sure my professor would encourage that as a valid
thesis statement) And while the
picture of me strangling a friend at the Naval Academy may have interesting
political undertones, I don't think that it going to help in my analysis of
Puritan political theory.
Van West never comes outright and says that her solution for writer's
block is solely for fiction writers, but I would have to argue that photographs
could not be a help to academic writers because of the nature of the work.
Fiction is based in sensation and perception, whereas academic writing
focuses on fact and analysis. While
those sensations and perceptions can be created from a picture basis, fact and
time I need inspiration for a story, I'll start looking at the pictures which
decorate my desk. As for next time I write a paper . . . I think I'll go back
to banging my head against a wall.~Jenna Morton-Ranney, November 5, 2000.
Moira. Introduction to Feminism
and Philosophy: Perspectives on difference
and Equality. Indiana University: Bloomington, 1991. pp 1-8.
Moira Gatens' book, Feminism and Philosophy, critiques both male-
and female-written philosophy from a feminist vantage point.
Using many well-known philosophers' work, Gatens takes offense at the way
that first, women are excluded from philosophy, and second, when they are
included, their inclusion assumes that women fit into pre-established societal
roles and thought patterns. In her introduction, Gatens briefly takes on many of the
issues which comprise the body of the book and provides an overview of her
concerns about women and philosophy.
Gatens explains that feminist theory is closely aligned to many
socio-political theories, even while many such theories (Marxism,
existentialism, utilitarianism), by their very nature, exclude women (1).
That is, in an attempt to generalize about the human condition, the
condition of women is ignored. Gatens
says that, "To accept the implicit value system of these theories is to
accept the superiority of masculine values and occupations" (2).
While no feminist wants to accept such a superiority, women do not have
the vocabulary to express their experience apart from the male experience.
Thus, philosophers such as Simone de Beauvoir and Shulamith Firestone
present seemingly feminist philosophies which actually rely on male conceptions
of the female body and the traditional dichotomy between mind and body.
This dichotomy has much to do with women's exclusion from philosophy, for
if a woman is strongly rooted to emotion and the body, particularly through
motherhood, then there is no possibility that she could also make use of her
Gatens provides two choices for women: "Either they affirm a
necessary sexual difference resulting in different natures and roles but claim
equal value for such differences, or they affirm an essential
equality which will be actualized once women's connection to reproduction is
controlled, or severed, by science" (4).
Within the context of philosophy, then, women must pick one of these
stances and base their methods of thought around it.
Unfortunately, women have very little place to turn for support. Traditional philosophy provides no basis for women thinking
and more modern philosophy stems from the canon and relies on traditional gender
roles. Even the "sexually
neutral human subject turns out to be implicitly a male subject whose
'neutrality' is conceptually dependent on the 'shadow' conception of the female
subject" (5). How, then, do
Gatens says her work is perverse because she is "looking at women
who are looking at men looking at women" (6).
And yet, for women to be in philosophy, this is their only option.
The rest of the theories in this book aside, the masculine nature of
philosophy remains. Thus, for women
to write about philosophy within the very structure which excludes them, they
face an intellectual impossibility. Philosophy,
that which studies the essence of the human experience, excludes one half of the
For a woman to write about
philosophy she must either compromise her feminine perspective by looking at
philosophy only through the eyes of men or she must challenge the structure of
philosophy by including women in the experiences from which they have been
excluded. Gatens explores many of
the challenges which feminism poses to philosophy and her primary success is
that she explores these issues at all, when so many philosophers are willing to
ignore them. (Miriam J. Steinberg
Dave. "A Defense of Dualism: The Writing Center and the
Classroom." The Writing
Center Journal 14.1
Healy focuses his article on the difference (and the need for difference)
between the classroom and the writing center.
Students need a different environment and experience from the classroom
in order to embrace independence from their instructors' authority, express
creative and critical thinking, and own their writing.
Healy emphasizes that students need this sort of freedom in order to
become independent, confident thinkers, and that the writing center is one place
that can foster such freedom. The
distinction between the writing center and the classroom is precisely what makes
the writing center available for this purpose.
begins by giving Harvey Kail and John Trimbur's two models of peer tutoring: one
in which it is curriculum-based and therefore associated with the instructor,
classroom and hierarchy of authority (Teacher's Assistants), and another which
is exemplified by the writing center model.
The writing center model allows students, through collaboration, to
become their own authorities. Healy
states that teacher authority "breed[s] student passivity" (17)
because of the hierarchy involved within academic institutions.
Through our other readings it has become clear that some instructors tend
to have a heavy hand with their authority, asserting that what they say goes,
leaving little or no voice to the students.
acknowledges this authority issue immediately and emphasizes the need for a
place where students are detached from such heavy-handed authority.
This is possible at writing centers, where intellectual and individual
growth are fostered, away from the classroom authority.
Healy feels that "students deserve direct support that is unmediated
by the instructor" (20), who consequently will always be the one holding
the student's grade in his/her hands. Students can then "develop necessary critical
distance" from their classrooms (18) with the help of tutors who are not
directly associated with the instructor or the class.
Without the anxiety of feeling further evaluated grade-wise by the tutor,
the student can feel more free in expressing his/her individuality and ideas.
According to Healy, this freedom can help students "develop
instrinsic motivations for their studies" (23).
So essentially, the tutors are there for the students, not the
instructors. The students thus
become "active agents" in their own learning, becoming their own
authorities in their writing and education.
a metaphor of a parent/child relationship as the teacher/student relationship,
Healy effectively illustrates the necessity of a writing center that is not
directly associated with the classroom or instructors.
Just as a parent must allow his child to learn from other authorities,
institutions and peers in order to develop fully as a person, the teacher must
acknowledge the need for various other institutions (like the writing center)
which can help in a student's development.
There is a certain amount of lettng go involved, and also realizing that
the parent/teacher's authority is not necessarily the only authority.
It is a struggle for the parent/teacher to learn "how to provide
both challenge and support [and] how to acknowledge values while promoting
freedom and independence" (19). It
is crucial for the child/student to learn from different perspectives, as well
as gaining a perspective that is independent from the parent/teacher.
Therefore, "tutors and writing centers provide an alternative to the
authority of teachers and classrooms" (21) because tutors exercise
authority and evaluation in a way different from instructors simply because they
do not and can not give grades.
gives more examples of the differences between the classroom and the writing
center. Although both have the same
aims of developing and improving students' skills as writers, they must
accomplish these aims differently. For
one thing, instructors do not have the same amount of individualized time as
tutors do. Another factor is that tutors do not have the authority to
give grades; however, they are in the position to challenge the instructor's
judgment in terms of remarks or criticisms to a student's paper.
This has possibilities of "mistrust and misunderstanding" (25)
between instructors and tutors (not only because of the potential undermining of
the instructor's authority, but also because of the tutor/collaborative setting
in which plagiarism is feared.
spends the final leg of his article on advice for both tutors and writing center
directors in order to maximize effectiveness within the academic institution.
His main goal in writing this article seems to be to open up ties between
the classroom and the writing center. If
tutors and instructors were to work together, both aspects of developing writing
skills (from the collaborative and "academic authority" viewpoints)
would be covered and also supported. There
were definitely points concerning authority that echoed previous articles we
have read, especially the student essays on peer tutoring.
He acknowledges that there is a difference in the kind of authority
teachers and tutors exhibit, and that difference accounts for the relationship
the student has with the two. What
Healy has to say about the writing center and classroom together under one
institution brings up issues of how they can work closer together,
collaboratively, instead of completely separately.
It would be interesting to see a writing center that is fully supported
by the faculty, rather than ignored or looked down upon.
Richard. “When the Going is Good: Implications of ‘Flow’ and
‘Liking’ for Writers and
Tutors.” The Writing Center Journal 15 (1995): 153-162.
This article focuses on the effects of “flow” and “liking” on the
writing process. Flow is described as positive feelings experienced by a writer
during the writing process. It
is associated with a sense of control, clarity in ultimate goals, complete
concentration, loss of self-consciousness, and an altered sense of the duration
of time. Flow happens while we are engaged in a challenging activity in which we
have skill, and even basic writers, according to Leahy, have enough skill to
experience it, even if it only occurs during a short time. If a tutor can hone
in on a specific area, in which the writer “felt good about what they were
doing,” then many times the tutor is actually finding the strongest part, or
the “source of energy” in the original draft.
In connection with flow, liking involves positive feelings about the
writing or product itself. Liking a
piece of writing can often bring forth motivation and commitment, on the
writer’s part, to make the product better.
If a tutor can find and affirm those parts of a tutee’s writing that
are good, then the writer will have something to feel proud of, and in many
cases will be more inclined to improve the rest of the writing.
Flow and liking can both be considered “powerful tools for helping
writers discover strength,” but a tutor may not always find these two concepts
helpful. These tools can become confused or insignificant.
Some students never enjoy writing, and when questioned about flow and
liking, they may just seem puzzled. Also,
in some cases, negative feelings about writing can induce more motivation in a
writer for revision then positive feelings.
And finally, flow and liking are not always connected.
A writer can experience flow during the writing process, but can still
not like any of the writing. On the
other hand, a writer can struggle and hate the writing process, but still be
satisfied with some or the entire product.
This article once again confirms the importance of emotions in the
writing process. Positive feelings
about writing are especially helpful in encouraging commitment and motivation in
writing. If tutors can help seek
out and affirm those parts of the tutee’s writing that are good then it can be
extremely helpful to the tutee. This,
I feel though, has to be done carefully and consciously and not just done in the
form of compliments by the tutor. It
is important that the tutor does not just pick those parts, which she feels are
good but tries instead to find the ones that the tutee likes.
Though positive feedback in any form can be encouraging to the tutee, it
is probably more effective if the tutee feels first that the writing is good.
If the tutor picks those parts, which she considers to be good, then it
is possible that the tutee will not feel more confident simply because he does
not recognize that or know why the writing is good. It is also possible that the tutee can come to the conclusion
that the good writing was done simply by mistake and that he can not replicate
it or produce it intentionally. More
importantly, picking out those parts in which the tutee feels good about the
writing, is many times comparable to picking out those parts of the writing that
are going to motivate and strengthen the paper the most.
In other words, follow, do not dictate, which direction the paper should
go in, because that will probably produce the best results.--Maggie MacTiernan,
Irvin. "Capturing the
Evolution of Corporate E-mail." Computers and Composition 14 (1997):
found this article to be extremely interesting if not a wee bit outdated.
It is amazing how quickly movements in the technological world become
“outdated,” even something as seemingly recent as the use of email.
Peckham did extensive research and observation over a five month period
about the uses and development of email in the corporate world.
This study is applicable to us here at Goucher, because indeed many
students will be headed out into corporations (as what part of the world is not
of Peckham’s goals was to determine what was replaced by the advent of emails:
oral or written communication. The
answer is both, but within this hybrid he found many problems.
First, email has begun to undermine the corporate hierarchy, though this
may have been truer three years ago. Presumably,
the head honchos of a corporation have been at the top for a while, after having
spend years working their way there. This
means that the guys at the top were not hired for technological skill (as far as
computers) because they didn’t exist as we know it when they were hired.
The “bosses” haven’t used computers nearly as much as their
underlings, and thus they may be slightly techno-phobic.
Thus the people using email more are lower on the totem pole, yet have
more power in a way.
way emails break down the corporate hierarchy is their lack of formality and
their anonymity. Lack of formality
does not necessarily stem from the language used, but the fact that there is no
letterhead, or signature, or seal, etc. One
email looks like another, whether it is from the CEO or the janitor. This essentially undermines the command of the email.
higher-ups are leery of the spread of email for several reasons.
First is that they are not experienced, themselves, and fear obsoleteness
in the company. After all,
today’s employee’s are hired for their technological skill.
Another reason is the fear that the network may be used for noncorporate
activities. These fears are not
unfounded. Peckham estimates that
over 50% of emails written throughout the day are personal, and at least 20% of
time on the internet is personal.
are emails bolstering or decaying corporate stability?
Is this trend important enough to become a subject in college writing?
These are questions raised by Peckham’s article.
included this example of an email (not even a personal one) that one of his
I have not figured out how to put a ‘ha-ha’ in the notesmail [email]. But you do have it coming. Remember waaaaayyy back when, when you were teasing me about quitting and my heart stopped for a bit??? Well, I may be slow, but at my age, memory still does work!
email reflects the laxness of the medium, and how it indeed reflects poorly on
the author, although her coworkers describe her as intelligent, mature, and
hardworking. How would an employee
feel receiving something along these lines from his boss?
I think he would lose respect for the boss little by little.
is another inherent flaw in writing emails: the tendency to use oral rather than
written communication skills. This
is way it may be important to incorporate instruction in how to write a
corporate email into business courses. I
am not familiar with these courses, so I don’t know if they include “how to
write a memo,” but “how to write an email and not sound like a dummy”
should be included.
I think we see this on
Goucher’s campus with the mass email system.
People may have very important things to say, but due to the informality
of an email, it usually comes out diluted.
How many students write drafts of emails? Or save them? Hardly
any if any. Even though
these emails will be viewed by a majority of the campus and perhaps some of
their professors and the administration. Those
types of habits will not fare will in the corporate world.
Eventually the techo-people who are underlings now will be the bosses,
and will encourage the use of email. It
will by then have become a valid means of communication and will need to be
honed in education just as any other form of communication.
Elly Zupko 11-10-00