Friday, September 23, 2011

Since we don't see each other's papers...

Below is an excerpt from my paper about the blog survey.

Before I address the similar nature of the concerns and suggestions blogged about by the tutors, I’d like to postulate a theory about why they are the same. In one sense the blog prompts are asking similar questions each semester so the responses are going to be on the same topics, and the nature of tutoring and teaching writing is essentially the same throughout so the same concerns are going to come up about how to teach writing, but the thing that struck me most interestingly is that the people who work in the writing center have similar natures or characters. We are all a little odd, but in a good way.

It makes sense that the personalities of people working in the writing center would have much in common with each other. Of all the students on campus, only a portion would apply for this position. They would have to like reading/writing well enough to think they could do the job. They would also have to have shown some proficiency in their own writing above the general student population. I noticed many posts on the blog along the line of, “I never had to try very hard to get good grades in English,” or, “I never took 1010 or 2010 at WSU because I took the AP test.” Even without that level of confidence in their own writing, many of the posts mentioned how they had no idea what tutoring actually entailed because they never needed to avail themselves of tutoring.

A group of people who excel at and enjoy doing the same thing are going to have some similarities. We enjoy talking about books and movies, making references to those same things, being sarcastic in our less formal responses, and we have the same insecurities about our tutoring.

“What if I screw up and make a paper worse,” or, “what if I don’t know the answer to a question,” or, “what if the tutee knows more than I do” are the kinds of insecurities that are echoed time and again in the first few weeks of each semester. We know that we’ve received good grades on our papers from English professors, so we must be doing something right. We enjoy talking about this subject or we would have never applied for the job. So, the question is, what are we so afraid of? This links to the notion that many tutors have never been tutored and have often breezed through composition courses in the past. We have never had to work very hard to be good writers, so we’ve never had to study and learn how to write. Often we write well because we have read a lot and have seen many examples of writing, but we’ve never had to struggle with remembering how to conjugate a verb or how to write a complete sentence. It’s the impostor syndrome we discussed in class which never goes away. We wonder if we have just been shined-on and told that we are good, but that someone will come along and laugh at us for thinking that we know anything about writing.


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