This was my first blog experience.
Personally, I find online writing to be very impersonal. So It didn’t make a difference to me whether it was my friends, acquaintances, or complete strangers reading my postings.
However, knowing that I was writing to other first time tutors did highly affect the content of my writing on the blog. Because I knew that other students on the blog were going through similar experiences as peer tutors, I was able to feel that my writing was much more conversational and less complacent than writing a blog for people who are unfamiliar with your experiences. I understood that what I was writing was going to be well understood as well as expounded upon by members of our blog community.
I really enjoyed that we could keep up an insightful and interesting conversation outside of the classroom. The essence of the blog I felt was closely related to the principles we were taught to use as tutors. From day one, we were told that we should not follow the “banking concept of education”. We learned that learning is best facilitated through conversation and group learning. — This is precisely what this blog enabled us to to.
Indeed, we practiced what we preached. And I feel good about that.
— Jordan Wilsted–
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
I felt inspired to talk about an observation session the I participated in at CU’s Writing Center. At this session I learned more than just how to help tutor students; I learned something that improved my own writing on a “global level”.
The writer came into the tutoring center and met the consultant. The writer was taking a comic books class in which he was required to write an extensive analysis on his interpretation of a single comic book page.
“I have a lot of facts and observations in here,” he said. “But could you help me figure out my main point? I don’t have a thesis.”
The consultant read his paper aloud, making sure to highlight certain sentence level errors with her intonations and pauses. At the end of the paper, she said that she loved that she felt like she was reading the comic book frame by frame and thought the flow of the paper was phenomenal.
At the end of the session, she addressed his questions about his thesis.
“I think you know exactly what you are trying to say. But if you are looking for a grand statement that is completely unique and original, your probably not going to find it. But a thesis doesn’t need to be anything profound, or even summarize your whole paper, it is simply there to guide the reader through the paper.”
This was some of the wisest and most realistic advice that I had heard in a while. So many teachers scare you with your thesis. They tell you that is has to be something that ties the whole paper and is the most fundamentally imprtant part of a piece of writing. I believe that this is over dramatizing the purpose of a thesis. A thesis statement may very well be the foundation of the paper, but it doesn’t have to carry the whole weight of the paper. Rather it is there to help displace the weight evenly throughout the paper.
It is this type of large-scale advice that I find extremely important when working to create better writers
When my first collegiate paper was returned to me it had big red writing on the back page. It read, “C+ — Needs more analysis”. I went back to the drawing board and the following week, turned in a paper that I believed to be much more analytical and in depth. When this paper was returned to me, it read, “B — Needs more analysis.”
The one thing that was clear to me was that there was a disconnect between me and my professor. I was alayzing to the best of my abilities, yet it was still not enough. Somehow between the instructions of my professor and my writing of the paper, I was missing a critical piece of stylistic, organizational, or structural information.
It is this exact type of situation in which a writing center is able to help students improve their writing. When something needs to be looked at from a different angle, or through a different lens, having a place where your witing can be discussed amongst your peers is extremely useful. We all are only accustomed to our own style and can only intake and export information within the bounds of our own abilities. We cannot truly think from another perspective without first filtering through our own. Having a writing center of peers who think on the same level as you is beneficial to any writer, at any stage of the writing process.
Writing centers can offer much more than grammar correction and red marks on your paper. They wont grade you or be insulted by your work. Too many professors have been thinking and studying their area of expertise at such a high level that it actually hinders their ability to understand how little a student might know about that subject. Writing centers offer a liaison between your mind and the person grading your work. It can help you get outside your own head when you feel trapped within it.
Universities who value quality writing, should value a quality writing center.
My name is Jordan Wilsted. I am a junior at CU Boulder studying advertising in the J school. I am really excited to get to talk to students from other institutions and be able to learn to help others learn. I have never participated in a class that requires interaction between other universities. While I have no teaching experience, I hope that being open minded and well prepared will help me to teach students to write batter at any stage of the writing process.
I have writing experience in fiction, research papers, opinion articles, and news journalism. I am a member of the CU News Corps, which provides in depth news coverage about CU to different media outlets around Colorado.
I hope my writing experience helps me help others and become a better writer.