I would have to say that my cultural informant was my one English teacher (for the purpose of this post, we’ll call him Professor Smith). Smith was the teacher that never really taught what most people would call a traditional English professor. Instead of being worried about Greek rhetoricians and classic literature that one would most likely study in high school, he was concerned with teaching the complexities of the off-track English genres, like Watchmen and Flowers for Algernon.
After taking basic English that was required of all freshman (which I breezed through), when I got to his class and got my first paper back with a giant “D” written at the top, I was distraught. I went to his office to ask him why, when I had done so well in English introduction, I got such a bad grade on this paper? He replied that the central idea of the paper was optimal, I chose a good topic to work with, but I was not quite understanding how to organize the paper and develop my thoughts completely. We spent an hour going through just the introduction to my paper and I was floored by what I had learned in just that hour. I realized that my main problem was from the get-go. I knew where I wanted the paper to go, but the introduction (which I had based the content of my paper off of) was a jumbled mess, and the paper had followed suit.
I really do think that one of my goals as a tutor is to use the experience that Smith had taught me about not being afraid to relearn how to do something. I think that one of the biggest challenges that novice writers have is taking something that they have been taught and learning how to morph it to suit each individual situation. If I can convince just one person this semester that they have a solid idea and teach them a new creative way, that makes sense, to bring that point across, I will feel really accomplished this semester. I feel as if teaching people to write so their papers feel like theirs and not a machines will be the most important thing that will come of this.