Maslow's Hierarchy and the Writing Center Philosophy

GOOD BLOG TO YOU. As I read through the essays about writing center philosophy in our training class, I have begun to see a trend. It is obvious that the ultimate goal outlined in these articles is that a writing center should make students better writers through helping them to take ownership and agency in their work. Every essay and discussion is centered around a student finding their own way through the process, and becoming self actualized in the process. Taking true ownership depends on being outside the structure and thinking beyond grades and the desire of a professor for a certain project. Even the training class is an example of this. It is structured to give the students as many chances as possible to find the solutions for themselves. There are sometimes in there that it is a little frustrating, and I just want to hear that 'the answer is BLANK'. But it really does allow us to empathise with a student in that type of model. It's sort of a learn through example setting. But it is also contrasted by what I have been observing in the center. I have found that many of the sessions revolve around structure and grammar, and I see the tutors taking allot more control in directing the outcome of the papers than what is seemingly recommended by the essays on tutoring. So, I see a rift between the ideal and the application. And as I was thinking about it, I began to see parallels between the writing center philosophy and Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs. Maslow says that to achieve true self actualization, and truly be free, you must first address the basic needs of body, shelter, emotional stability, etc. Couldn't the center's philosophy be just another interpretation of this model? I think it can. If you do not address the basic needs of the writer, like how they approach writing, grammar, structure, and understanding of analysis, it seems nearly impossible for them to achieve true ownership of their writing, and be that better writer that we want them to be. But, maybe that's what it's all about.


  1. Interesting and thought provoking post, Rick. I like your ideas and how you're applying Maslow's ideas to writing centers and writing center theory. I have to ask myself, though, what constitutes the "basic needs of the writer."

    In the case of Maslow's hierarchy, these needs obviously apply to every human; everyone needs food, shelter, and emotional stability, in order to move closer toward self-awareness. But, in the case of writing and writers, I wonder if these needs can be as clear cut, as apparent.

    Since every writer varies tremendously, from one to another, how can we really be sure of what their individual needs really are?

    We can ask them, get an answer, and do our best to work from or within their needs, but can we ever be positive that we've helped them advance toward their own goals, toward ownership of their writing?

    Of course, we can never be sure of what a writer really thinks, wants, or has recieved of a consultation. What we can be sure of, though, is what we've done to help or hinder him or her--or his or her's process.

    I really like this idea, and I do think it's very applicable to consulting. If you (or anyone) goes into a consultation and attempts to foster a consultation from the writer's basic needs, it should turn out to be a positive experience for both the writer and the consultant

    Sounds like a great way to approach consulting, to me...

  2. Your post actually sounds very much like Carl Rogers and person centered therapy. He also talks about student centered teaching. Rogers and Maslow are Humanists and both of their ideas work well together and are very applicable to the real world.


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