Monday, October 28, 2013

What Would Enlgish 2010 Be Like?

I took AP English in High school, so I haven’t had to take a composition class. I imagine that it must be somewhat frustrating though, whether you’re an advanced student or not.  The errors that I see everyday are basically exactly the same: the thesis isn’t clear, your commas are wrong, this paragraph shouldn’t be in the paper. The principles that help students avoid these kinds of problems are hammered into their brains from middle school on (in most cases). It would be frustrating to get back multiple papers, go and see tutors, and have peer reviews and receive the same feedback you’ve received for years.

On the other hand, perhaps the students really aren’t grasping the concepts. Perhaps they feel as if they are learning something for the first time each and every time they review it. I think that’s where we come into play. Many students, for whatever reason, struggle with writing. Often times they know what they want to say, but it’s not as easy for them as it is for their peers. Is it possible that they are making the same mistakes over and over because their learning style is not matching up with the way the professor teaches?

In college, professors have large classes, and they try teach in a general way so that many people can understand. Every now and then, however, there is a student who just doesn’t get it. It’s not because they’re stupid or because the professor is a bad teacher though; it’s because the student has a different learning style, and the professor can’t tailor their teaching to each and every student’s individual needs.

But we can. As tutors, we are here to help students break away from the group and classroom setting and receive some one on one help with English. That is why it is so important that we know grammar, that we know how to teach, and that we know different learning styles.  We are the last chance some of these students may have to develop writing skills they can use for the rest of their time at the university, if not the rest of their lives. Some of these students have all but given up, and the writing center is the last thing standing between them and a minimum wage career. We can reach out to these students in a very personal way, and address concerns on a one on one basis.

Although I have never been in a 2010 composition class, I have been in classes that have frustrated me. I have been in classes where I just don’t understand the professor’s teaching style – classes where I needed a little extra help. Although I have never been in a 2010 composition class, I have felt the despair, the frustration, the desire to give up. Those are the feelings we are called to dispel. Those are the thoughts we can get rid of in the student’s minds by helping them understand something the classroom has not been able to teach them:  the joy of expressing themselves clearly through written language. 

- Sam Bartholomew


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