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Tuesday, July 22, 2008

IWCA SI Day 2

Hello all.

Another packed day here at the Pyle Center. The weather is holding, the food is good, the conversation stimulating: A good day.

But what a day. It started with an in-depth cursory look at diversity in the writing center. Follow me on this one. It was in-depth because we discussed and questioned many oft-overlooked topics within diversity, but cursory because we could not run all the conversations out to their full length or strength. I doubt any conversation about diversity within any institution can ever be really run out, but we did not even get fully warmed up. One point that really stood out to me about the discussion was the varied--and often unaddressed--expectations. It seems that so many topics and points within diversity are hung up on unreconciled--or inadequately articulated--expectations, which are not being met. Since diversity means different thing in different situations--rhetorical or otherwise--and since each mean carries specific, if unexamined and unarticulated, expectations, part of the solution must be understanding what is expected by all parties involved. This sounds clinical and calculated; maybe it should be because it is so wrapped up in emotion. If we can step out of the hyper-emotional view and understanding of diversity, maybe some solutions to difficult questions would be easier to indentify, understand, and implement.

The next session focused on how tutors/consultants are 'trained.' The quotes are a result of the discussion that we do not so much train tutors/consultants as we educate them. A subtle delineation between training and education was drawn, a delineation that I agree with and find important. In short, as Nancy Grimm phrased it, "I train my dog, but my dog educates me." Training is focused on specific skills and steps that are to be followed. Education is focused on understand and analysis. The goal, therefore, is for tutors/consultants to be educated in the theory and practice of the writing center.

This was all before lunch.

After lunch, we made posters of our centers. Many participants--including me--brought photos and artifacts from their centers, which were then posted on colorful poster board and displayed around the room. The session was then centered around our centers and what is/was central to our layout--be it limitations or decision. Much discussion for and against cubicles--now called carroles (sp?)for reasons I am not fully aware of--ensued. As expected, no one view carried the day, but a compromise was reached: Do what you want in your own center. Other aspects of center layout and decoration were discussed, and there was a great presentation by Delma McLeod-Porter and Linda Larson outlining how they re-build their writing center after hurricane Rita.

I then attended a break-out session that was a continuation of the opening session. The small group and conversational nature led to more questions than answers, but the very fact that we are looking at the minute details and aspects of diversity will help our centers broaden our practices.

Many Special Interest Groups (SIGS) have been formed, each around a specific topic or question. They meet during lunch or for dinner. There is a varied selection and I am unsure which one--if any--I will attend this evening.

Remember the webcast tomorrow!

Any questions? Let me know!

zwk

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