Help me help you: Part II

I don’t want anyone to think that I hate my job at the writing center. I love it, actually. But every now and then, I come out of my shift extra tired and cranky.

Here are what I think should be explicit rules in the writing center and the rationale behind them.

Does this mean I'm going to be really strict parent? Hm.

1. When you ask me what grade you should get, there’s really nothing I can say. First, I’m not your teacher and I don’t know how your teacher will grade your paper. Second, you put me in a position where I can potentially get in trouble with your teacher for telling you your paper is a C when it is really a D. Finally, if you’re asking me for a grade, chances are you already have one in mind, and chances are you are right.

2. I’m a firm believer that there is no such thing as a bad writer. There are only writers who are aware of what they are trying to say overall (thesis, structure, and organization, pl0x!) and there are writers who don’t care. I also don’t want to have to lie to you and tell you that you are a good writer; however, I don’t want to tell you that you suxxorz because then you won’t be motivated to write altogether. We are better off focusing on how to improve your writing than we are trying to figure out whether you fall in the good or bad writer category or maybe somewhere in between.

3. What you need to learn how to do is how to write papers in general, not how to write this one paper that’s due in 2 hours. Think long-term. Do you really want to have to keep coming back to the writing center? I didn’t think so.

4. Accept that you made a mistake. Let’s not waste 5 minutes of our 40-minute session with you trying to make me understand why you use “you’re” for “your”, and how you can never understand the use of semi-colons. (N. B. I do not know how to use semicolons either. My personal rule is to use them only for therefore and however.)

5. This is probably the most important rule of all. I’ve noticed that some of the people that come to the writing center do so because they are too lazy to think about and plan for the writing assignment. I am a writing tutor, not a writing coach. Some people could really use my help more than you, my dear. When I tell you, “See, you can manage alright,” what I’m really saying is “Dude, you don’t need my help.”

This whole “help me help you” thing makes me seem like a bitch. I am, especially when provoked.


2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Caitlin
    Mar 01, 2011 @ 11:58:02

    Dude! Number 3 is the problem with about 90 percent of my students. They expect me to just take a pen ad write up their paper for them. Ugh.

    Also, I’m going to add one more rule:

    6) Read the story/book/article you have to write about BEFORE you try to write the paper. This sounds like an obvious one, but you have no idea how many students I’ve had that hadn’t even read what they were supposed to write about.

    Love this post, btw!


    • sm1tt3nk1tt3n
      Mar 01, 2011 @ 13:14:50

      I know, that’s happened to me too! Aw, shucks, I’m just gonna have to make another image and credit you for the last rule. Awesome, awesome. :)

      In a perfect world, the Writing Center would not need rules, but alas!


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