Monday, September 02, 2013

Shelley Williams/Fall 2013/Blog 1: Whose Afraid of Virginia Tutees?

My Blog 1, Blog 2, and ultimately my first reflection/response are all mish-mashed in my head and somewhat in my written musings, but to return to my guttural response of what I am most afraid of with tutoring, it is not each session, first sessions, but personal outcomes I am most afraid of—both the students’ and my own. I want them and me to get the most out of tutoring as possible. That’s my bottom line. To elaborate, I’m most afraid of not learning enough in this course to make this course, my tutoring time and experience fruitful in the long run. In other words, I’ve made this journey before at a writing center, tutoring; I have taught composition (actually I did both those things concurrently); I have an advanced degree but little to show for it as compared with others with the same degree. The tendency to compare oneself to peers in the same boat is a common one, and I suppose I would have to add that to my nerves and what keeps me up at night, i.e., the fact that I have less in common with the young tutors and students than I did in days past.  Most times I find I cannot indulge in this pity-fest of being in boat of one because I have no points of comparison.  I have lost touch with peers who went through a degree program at the same time as me, and I don’t suspect I’d want to report my collage of experience to them even if that were not the case. Telling my story to the collectors of information to a high school reunion was uncomfortable enough.

Bottom line: Will it have been worth it after all, when I am a pinned and wriggling insect on a wall at the end? Students, the professor of every course, this one included, and I, all evaluate me in every present moment (when we’re not preoccupied with ourselves alone). That assessing, constant assessing, is part of academia and part of life. What worries or concerns me is whether, to be cliché, I’ll cut the mustard, yes, but also whether, even doing so sufficiently well, what gain this will win me in a long-term employment vein. Though I love learning for its own sake and with it, gleaning hopefully some wisdom, which I think is possible from every tutor/tutee exchange, I suppose I long for the old American dream even if tinged with the new American reality—i.e., if not a house, 2.5 children, a dog and/or cat, at least the ability to be self-sufficient again. As the old Jiffy Lube commercials used to say, “We don’t want to change the world, we just want to change your oil.” I’d settle for the latter, but I know in so saying I am indeed settling because I know that writing and writing well, has the power to change the world. The power of the pen is (or can be) mightier than the sword.  So far, my wielding of the pen and helping others wield it, has been more self-transforming than world changing, but the world is made up of individual souls, and so, I must be content with whatever I gain or give, in the course of this course and through my tutoring running its semester’s course.


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