Pondering what it means to work with ESL students, I think back to a quote from a scholar (his name escapes me at the moment--feel free to provide it in the comments) that I heard early in my Mentoring Writers course, "Respect the writer." I suppose that is a simple way of putting it, but I think it conjures some important questions: What does it actually mean to respect someone, particularly someone of a different culture? How can one foster this kind of respect?
not sure whether or not I can adequately answer these questions, I think
the solution lies somewhere between my knowledge and the writer's
knowledge, somewhere at the end of a discussion. That is why I have come
to understand the importance of developing a context with the writer,
especially at the beginning of a session. After all, If I do not allow
the writer to extend herself, then how can I engage her? And if I can't
relate with her on any level, then how can I possibly help her express
herself in English? Simply put, the answer to each question is, "I
can't," but the explanation for why is longer: If I monopolize a
session, then I deny the author's agency, essentially reducing her to
something similar to a game piece confined to an array of moves and
rules that relegate her to passivity, to a role moving through a system
wherein she can't make her own moves or express her own voice; when such
a system is in place, only rules matter--and real engagement, real
learning, is severely hindered. Therefore, I must understand the
writer's agency as critical--this is the foundation upon which respect
I should ask the writer about her thoughts and concerns
and ideas, because this asserts her agency and shows respect. Once
respect is in place, she and I can discuss, and work together to come to
a place of mutual understanding and benefit. Together, we can play, not
be played at, the game of writing and language--of communication--and I
think that is more fun for everyone. I suppose it is alright that I
don't have all of the answers, as it seems they lie not within me, not
within the other, but somewhere in the middle, somewhere we meet
I look forward to experiencing these "somewheres."
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...
I have posted a poll in the IWCA forums: IWCA Forum: Peer Tutor => What do we call ourselves: the poll! It is a part of an earlier disc...