Okay, so Joanna doesn’t know I’m doing this, but she will soon. This totally isn’t plagiarism because I’m citing her. Ready? (It’s becautiful, by the way):
A Wrting Center Haiki
by Joanna Holzhaeuser
The Writing Center.
Thesis. Reasons. Evidence.
“Please fix my grammar.”
See? It’s beautiful, I told you all. (For a first hand experience with this lovely Haiku, see the small whiteboard at the mac nearest the candy bowl — Joanna would probably also appreciate if someone would make a move against her in the half-played game of tic-tac-toe on said board.)
Beautiful and true. We are the Writing Center. We want to help you with your thesis, reasons, and evidence. We want your argument to be strong and clear and we want your paper to flow smoothly. We want to focus on the big picture. But you, you silly tutee. You often want to focus on the smaller things. “Please fix my grammar.” Oh silly, silly tuteegooses.
I know that we’re fighting a constant battle trying to inform people that we are NOT copy-editors. Does anyone think we’re meeting any success? When I have students come in asking for spelling and grammar, I always tell them that we like to focus on higher-level issues first, and then if there is time we can look at sentence-level problems like that. But many times when I have students come in asking for grammar help, they actually don’t have argumentative papers; so after looking at structure, organization, and fluency, we really do end up looking at sentence-level issues because there usually is time for it.
I wonder if this is counterproductive for our battle? I hope not. Do you guys feel that the students understand or comprehend you when you tell them what we do?
The other problem that I feel is constantly holding us back in this battle against the copy-editor perception is teachers. I mean, they need to stop this whole taking off a point for every misused comma thing. IMO, at least. I mean, think of Carrie’s post “The Writing Center is NOT a Prison.” The student gets an A on his paper, yet his teacher sends him to the WC to work on grammar and punctuation! What’s the deal? His content is good but we can copy-edit for him to create a more polished paper? Or? … I mean, we can’t know exactly, because we are neither the student or the professor, but really? Come on.
I know that this battle is kind of old news. But it’s frustrating. And I thought Joanna’s haiku quite the gem, so I wanted to share it and talk about how gosh darn true it is.
What methods do you think have been working for us to spread the word about our true mission? What do you think is a continuing problem? I know that the mis-perception will probably never disappear entirely, but I was just wondering what kinds of thoughts you guys had on this subject. ((Hey guys, COPY-EDIT FOR ME! Jk, but I don’t think mis-perception really has a hyphen. But I had one of those squiggly lines that wouldn’t go away so I just created my own solution.))
Holzhaeuser, Joanna. “Writing Center Haiku.” St. Norbert College Writing Center. Small Whiteboard. Fall 2011.