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Thursday, February 14, 2008

Writing Center Tutor or Writing Tutor?

What does it mean to be a writing center peer tutor? Does that meaning differ from being a peer writing tutor? I ask because our writing center peer tutors could very well become peer writing tutors in a learning center in the near future. I'd like to be able to ask the tutors how they see their work here, but the change of space and reporting structure has their emotions in overdrive, and I fear their responses would be purely from emotion.

Do you think there's a difference in the work? A difference in how you would approach the work? How do you think or do you think the name change is just that -- a name change? Is there something more to being called a writing center tutor than there is to being called a writing tutor in a learning center?

Do you think there's a difference in what it means to be part of the community of writing centers? Aren't writing tutors in a learning center still part of the larger wc community?

If we say that what's most important are the students we serve, does that mean we don't pay attention to the students who work as peer tutors? Does a name change affect the students who are peer tutors?

4 comments:

  1. Before I started working in the WC, I had conceptions about the tutors here. Now that I work here, I know it's both more and less than what I had expected. I've never been tutored by anyone in the WC, but I think people see us a bit differently than regular tutors. But while they might think it's because we're just anal writers and got hired to make other people the same way, WE know we're MUCH more than that.

    At my school, we have a tutoring center, and then the writing center. Both are paid positions and equally beneficial. Tutoring covers everything from chemical engineering, to music history. But the Writing Center... ahh, the Writing Center! We have our own room--we're not bothered with mingling science and education and other types of majors. We have our space with our rules. When those tutors don't have a client, they Facebook. When WE don't have a client, we're either working on our workshops, or doing Professional Development (reading manuals, practicing APA, reading PeerCentered!).

    We're not just selected: we're interviewed. We are elite! And we have office parties, and serious meetings, and CUPCAKES. We have mountains of paperwork, spreadsheets galore, post-its in our APA manuals, word poetry magnents on our metal cabinets!

    But we don't have a red pen in our hand. I think that's what surprised me the most when I first joined this little family. Our goal is not to correct, but to teach, and not just teach to a test or homework assignment, but teach a style, a purpose, a necessary skill of life! We teach people to communicate, to think, to further their intellectual horizons! Okay, so I'm getting a bit carried away, but we are so much more than a peer tutor.

    Peer tutors, from my experience, explain and maybe further discussion on a Professor's lesson. They help the student understand something for a test, quiz, homework assignment, whatever the case may be. And while one may argue we do the same for a single paper, I don't feel that's the case. We don't just correct comma splices and fragments, but help a student create their individual writing style. Anyone can correct grammar. It takes a Writing Center peer tutor to help someone grow as a writer.



    Oh my gosh, that was ridiculously long winded. I apologize. If you read that novel...kudos!

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  2. "We're not bothered with mingling science and education and other types of majors. We have our own space with our rules."...I'm not sure how I feel about that. Shouldn't writing embrace science, education, and other types of majors? Does a writing tutor embrace departmental diversity more easily than a writing center tutor? Why would that be?

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  3. I guess I see Writing Center tutors more as people you practice with than study under. At our center, we actually use the term 'consultant' more than 'tutor'. It seems like a better description of how we try to relate with our writers--perhaps because it's more dignifying to offer consultations than lessons.

    Besides my work here (at BSU's Writing Center), I tutor Math, Philosophy, and Logic. Weird, I know. In those settings, I'm definitely the tutor--dictatorial, picky, etc. Sometimes it's hard not to bring that style to my consultations; I take naturally to the role of grammar-Nazi.

    Okay, yeah. I'm definitely tired. I think I just wrote something that relates to the initial thread, but my mind's too far gone to spell it out right now.

    Changed my mind: I can at least try to pull a point out of the last few paragraphs. I do think there's a difference between what we do in our writing centers and what tutors in general do. So to that extent, I think it's worthwhile to call ourselves something other than tutors--"writing gods", maybe. :)

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  4. Elizabeth, I understand how what I said could have been misinterpreted. Certainly, writing concerns itself with all areas of study. As part of our professional development, we're encouraged to read guides on writing about biology, music, art, etc. But what I mean is we're not expected to sit there and explain chemical reactions. It's one of my favorite things about the WC: I, a music major, can help a chemistry major write a great paper. There's no boundary because of areas of study; we're both, at that moment, just two writers.

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