Honestly, if my personal beliefs have a strong influence on how I react to a student’s paper, I’m not doing my job right. My aim is to help a student develop their own ideas, not insert my own into their writing. But we have to be critical of students’ papers, how they develop their arguments and support themselves against criticism, which can be difficult to do objectively if we are personally opposed to their overarching thesis. For the sake of remaining impartial, I think it’s best for us as tutors to, in essence, pretend to be someone else for a while if that situation pops up.

Say a writer walks into the studio with a paper about how music is a waste of time and keeps people from being productive members of society. Now, I’m a lifelong musician who puts most of his freetime into the arts. There are periods I spend more time playing music than I do sleeping, and it’s not because I’m lazy. I’d want to give this guy a piece of my mind. But that’s not gonna help him make his point, and my personal beef with him doesn’t devalue what he has to say. So I’m gonna set aside all the stuff that I want to say and put on my Tutor costume. The Tutor is more concerned with building the writer’s paper up than tearing it down. The Tutor may pay a bit of attention to how the writer’s paper holds up to potential criticism by encouraging the writer look for sections which could be easily argued against. But the main focus of The Tutor will be on the writer’s ideas and how he communicates them. As long as he makes a solid case for why music is trivial, it shouldn’t matter how strong a case there is for the value of creative expression. These are his ideas he’s articulating and it is not my place to dismiss them. 

-Matt

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