As we wrap up the semester, or in my case, as the semester wraps me up, (clearly struggling with a loss of control here) it is interesting to think of how my perspective as a writer and consultant has changed. It’s interesting how, after all of the texts, the theories, the peer discussions that have led to my evolution as a consultant, that the first image of my pedagogy (weird that I legitimately have one now) leads me back to the original Stephen North article, “The Idea of a Writing Center.” Once more the opening paragraphs to his theory, later irreverently dismissed by what I can only perceive to be an increasing disillusionment (man I loathe that second article), illustrates an image of writing as a lonely and frustrating struggle. I realize now, that for many students, writing is a task done in solitude where no conversation, no negotiation occurs—where support lies mostly in an MLA handbook (if they have one). It is from this notion of writing of that I found my pedagogy. I feel that consulting in the writing center is my opportunity to support writers, to draw the writer out of the solitude of their process and engage in a negotiation.
I am reminded of Andrea Lunsford’s article, “Collaboration, Control, and the Idea of a Writing Center.” Lunsford argues that a center (which can clearly apply on a more personal level as an individual consultant) should place “control, power, and authority not in the tutor or staff, not in the individual student, but in the negotiating group.” It has been interesting to see how imperative it is to understand the dynamics of group work, to be a consultant who is, as Lunsford suggests, “[…] building a theory of how groups work; not only in understanding and valuing collaboration but in confronting squarely the issues of control that successful collaboration inevitably raises; not only in reaching consensus but in valuing dissensus and diversity.” I am really trying, now, to be a consultant who is aware of the implications of my position as a tutor, and the potential control and authority that I can unconsciously mandate. With this awareness, I feel that I am best able to disengage from a position of authority and connect on a more intimate level with a student. Something this whole writing center business has really made we want to do.
While I admit I was once intrigued by the prostitute-consultant analogy, not by what Scott Russell had to say about it but by some of the id...