Thursday, September 13, 2012

Fearing Fear is Folly

Just like any new endeavor, nervousness always accompanies it. Often I find myself thinking something that’s obvious to me is obvious to the student or should be obvious. I try not to assume that the student should or should not know something I know, such as certain grammar and comma principles, because I have noticed I come across as abrasive or condescending. On the contrary, I’m doing everything I can not to be condescending or abrasive. I simply enjoy the social interaction and the opportunity to help other people to learn how to improve their writing skills.
Along with the fear of misunderstood intentions, I fear nitpicking through the tutee’s essay or rewording their sentences to better suit what I think sounds “better.”  Not many people love or even like grammar, but I do. I love picking apart sentences and finding out how the words function in a sentence, and so it’s really difficult for me not to pick apart someone’s paper and reconstruct their sentences in a way that I feel is more effective, clear, or aesthetic. To combat this tendency, I have to constantly remind myself that this is their paper with their voice, and I’m not there to subvert their voice with mine, but to make their voice come through more clearly and with more strength.
“We have nothing to fear but fear itself,” FDR said in the days after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. While tutoring is not a surprise attack or a military engagement, I can prepare for tutoring because I’m aware of my own shortcomings and faults. Just like running a drill or a war game, I can practice in order to prepare for my first “battle.” I only hope that my first battle will have zero causalities.


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