NotesFAQContact Us
Search Tips
ERIC Number: ED355514
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 1992-Nov
Pages: 11
Abstractor: N/A
Reference Count: N/A
When Peers Are Not Equal: The Writing Center as a Discourse Community.
Scott, Erica
The term "peer" is often used to mean both tutor and tutee, but writing center directors should avoid romanticizing the notion of peer tutoring and recognize that peer tutors are considerably more advanced, and therefore more "powerful", than their tutees. In fact, the question of difference between tutors and tutees is a vital one for writing centers. The term "peer tutors" assumes an equality between tutor and client and a lessening of tutee anxiety, but upon investigation of writing centers, the notion of peer tutor changes when the issue of power is addressed. Calling both instructor and client "peers" ignores the very real differences between them. In many writing centers, for example, little or no attention is paid to the listening skills needed by clients whose backgrounds differ greatly from the tutor's. For example, some tutors have difficulty with clients who demonstrate an inability to use Standard English. Thus, it is essential that tutor training courses emphasize increasing the tutors' awareness of such differences along with an understanding of their place in various cultural contexts. To begin with, instructors should acknowledge that tutors are chosen because they are advanced members of a specific discourse community. In order to aid tutors in understanding their place within the community, one university's writing center chose Peter Elbow's "What Is English?" (1990) as a core text, selecting it because of the multiple voices that speak from its pages and express the conflicts that confront both instructors and students as they struggle to teach and learn within an imperfect system. Work is also being done to find strategies that enable tutors and clients to work together in such a way that clients can learn Standard English without getting bogged down in lectures on grammar. In short, by conceiving the writing center as discourse community, potential tutors can examine what it is that makes it so and can consider what should be their own role within it. (Contains 17 references.) (HB)
Publication Type: Speeches/Meeting Papers; Opinion Papers
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A