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March 27, 2007

Better papers...that's fine by me

Today, I’m not really looking forward to tutoring. It’s beautiful outside, I just experienced the first sun-shower of the year (where it’s rainy and sunny at the same time), and I find myself just craving some time to relax rather than help others with their writing. On days like this, where I’m lethargic and more introspective, I question whether I am really helping students become better writers or if I’m complicit in the idea that I simply make papers better, which is of no benefit to anyone except the consuming institution of the university.

When have I ever helped someone with their writing without focusing on a specific assignment? When has the writing process been the focus of the session rather than the written product? I honestly don’t know and I’m not sure if there is a way to focus solely on the process because most students only come to the writing center when they need specific assistance, rather than for general guidance. Perhaps my efforts are futile and they will not carry over across assignments. Maybe I do make better papers rather than better writers, and to me, that’s not too bad. I’m helping students fulfill university expectations as a means to an end, until they get a job outside the university and learn what kind of writing is expected of them in that environment; they adapt, they find ways to make that writing better, and the cycle continues.

We are all complicit; altruistic actions are unrealistic. We as tutors help make better papers, and inadvertently, sometimes better writers. And I think I can accept that.

Posted by aimroby at March 27, 2007 04:02 PM

Comments

I think that we are tackling the writing process in every session we do. Talking about the writing process in general or abstract terms won't mean anything unless a student can apply it to real writing. It may feel like we're just working on individual grade-grappling papers, but I honestly do think that the questions we ask and the suggestions we provide are sinking into students' brains and helping them out in the long run.

Posted by: holricha at March 29, 2007 11:27 AM

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