Monday, December 10, 2012

Reluctance; Oct. 28 Prompt

            One experience I have had with reluctant students has really stuck with me since. I met with the young man to review an essay with him. The essay was a personal response regarding a controversial topic. He had chosen the politically heated topic of immigration. While we were reviewing the essay, I could tell that he had become more and more emotionally invested in the topic. His writing began to suffer as a result of his emotional state when writing. As I asked him for clarification and suggested places for revision, he would simply say, “But that’s what I want it to say.” It was really difficult how to help this student reword his sentences that were really confusing to me as a reader without causing him to feel as though I was rewriting his thoughts.
            Finally, I decided that he and I would chat a little when I came to a sentence, phrase, or clause that I did not fully understand because of wording. I would ask him, “I understand _blank_ about your sentence. Is that correct?” If he said I had misinterpreted what he meant, I would ask him to explain to me his intended meaning. After explaining it to me, I suggested to him that he should word the sentence just how he had explained it to me because it was clearer. I told him that his other readers would not have the chance to ask him what he meant, so it was important for him to be as clear as possible with his meaning, and that way the reader would not misconstrue or misunderstand his intended meaning.
            Luckily, he responded well after I explained to him why it was important to reword some of his sentences and we went back over some of the sentences we had already studied and worked on those. By the end of the session, it seemed to me that he was more willing to work with me. He more readily took my advice and suggestions, and he knew that I did not intend to change his opinions or beliefs, but I wanted to help him express his opinions and beliefs more clearly so they would not be misinterpreted.
            From what experience I have had, students are reluctant because they are intimidated just coming into the Writing Center or they do not feel that they need their paper tutored. The best thing a tutor can do is realize the reason behind the student’s reluctance, which takes some intuition on the tutor’s part. After realizing the cause of the student’s reluctance, the tutor should then adjust their teaching style to help the student relax so both the tutor and the student can have an effective session.


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