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ERIC Number: ED362903
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1993-Apr-24
Pages: 30
Abstractor: N/A
Reference Count: N/A
"Getting It There": The Making of Improvement and Community in a Writing Center.
McDermott, Michael
A writing center tutor's experience with a basic composition student named Tonja, while limited to seven tutoring sessions and, in the tutor's words, not amenable to claims of universality, reveals indications of the growth of the student as a writer, and the growth of the tutor as well. Discussions between the writer and the tutor were a learning experience for both: their conversations moved increasingly away from an attempt to discern the teacher's "ideal text" and toward a reinterpretation of faculty power by defining the authority of knowledge as a relationship among people. While still plagued by doubts regarding the value of the meaning she creates, Tonja has evolved as a writer, while in his turn, the tutor has learned to fight his perfectionist impulse of striving for an"ideal text." Responding to the comments of her peers and her tutor on one of her papers, Tonja wrote a second draft in which she narrowed the focus and solidified her specific points. Discussions between the tutor and the writer over the hastly written draft of a second paper, one beset by myriad difficulties reveal that Tonja was fully aware of the paper's faults; however, the paper did illustrate what some researchers have called examples of growth--the willingness to take risks and the willingness to revise. Interestingly, Tonja's idea for the "revision" of the paper--destruction--showed that she saw absolutely no redeeming qualities in it and had been socialized into thinking that each paper she wrote must necessarily be better than the last--a much too rigid yardstick for such an enigmatic, subjective human activity as writing. Learning to focus a question for a paper is an enormous challenge for both tutor and tutee. Open, honest communication permits and encourages an academic student community which depends more on the authority of its members than the "infallible" utterances of the teacher. A writing center based on these principles is conducive to inculcating intellectual growth. (Five appendixes contain various drafts of student papers.) (RS)
Publication Type: Speeches/Meeting Papers; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers: Basic Writers; Tutor Role; Writing Contexts; Writing Development
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Conference of the Mid-Atlantic Writing Centers (Villanova, PA, April 24, 1993).