When confronted with an opposing belief or set of morals, it is a tutor’s responsibility to neither vocalize nor repress their own opinions. However, it IS a tutor’s job to make sure a student is conveying their own a opinion in a logical and and factual manner.

As writing consultants, it is our responsibility to point out inconsistencies or lack of evidentiary support in a piece of writing. Consultants should feel free to ask the writer thoughtful and challenging questions in hopes of strengthening the paper as whole. In asking difficult and potentially controversial questions to the writer, we are not only helping them find potential inconsistencies in their paper, we are offering a different viewpoint to that may inspire a stronger piece of writing.

Socrates was famous for his ability to change people’s opinions on a given topic or issue simply by asking them questions. Socrates had a unique ability to make people question their own opinions. By asking thought provoking questions, he was able to express an opposing idea without the direct use of rhetoric.

A famous example of Socrates’ method of asking thought provoking questions is found in his conversation with his student Euthyphro.

Socrates asks Euthyphro to give his definition of Pious.

Euthyphro responds by suggesting that what is is what is loved by the Gods.

Socrates follows up by posing a thought provoking question; “Is the Pious loved because it is Pious, or Pious because it is loved?”


Indeed, a writing center session is not a forum for the tutor to offer his own personal counter-opinion. However, if we think critically and ask thought provoking questions like Socrates did with his student Euphycles, we might be able to inspire a new train of thought in the writer we are tutoring. Indeed we may have the opportunity to show a different point of view and build strong writers simultaneously.


By Jordan Wilsted