When I entered college in 2007, I was definitely an over-confident writer. I had completed my freshman and sophomore college English classes in high school; however, I was frustrated when Penn State neglected to allow me to transfer my credits. I went into my first composition course feeling that the material was redundant and that I could do better. It was during a writing workshop, however, that every ounce of confidence I had was shattered.
The writing lab here at PSU Berks is a small room with computers outlining the perimeter. I was diligently at work finishing up my conclusion while I waited for the professor to review my paper. I remember actually being fairly excited that a college-level professor was giving us one-on-one attention on our papers and not just having a peer review. She began to read my paper and at first she edited commas and punctuation and then within a blink of an eye I was losing sentences. SENTENCES! Paragraphs were rearranged, sentences were deleted, and words were changed. I was to say the least, mortified. It wasn’t that I was so confident in my work that I thought I didn’t need help, but the fact that my professor was literally changing my entire paper without suggesting I change something or asking permission was appalling.
The entire semester went on in this fashion. I would write a paper and during the review she would demolish it. I would go home at night and complain how it was no longer my work but hers yet my hands were tied since I relied upon decent grades.
I haven’t thought about this class in five years. I forgot all about the professor and her techniques for reviewing her student’s papers but I remember the feelings that I had. I remember feeling sad, angry, and as though my opinion on my paper was not important. But it was those feelings that will make me a better tutor. It was those feelings that were invoked in me to know that other students shouldn’t have to feel that their words and thoughts do not carry meaning or lack importance. There are, of course, instances according to Shamoon and Burns where it is useful to be “directive and appropriative”(175) but students should always feel that they are in control in of their own writing and make their own decisions based on their own work.