So. I just want to make this clear for everyone: This is my very first blog post ever. I don’t really know what I’m supposed to do, so I’m just going to do whatever floats my boat. I would also like to warn everyone that I only half-read most of the previous blog posts, so when I repeat topics that have already been brought up (and oh, I certainly will), well, that’s that. Also, you all have been writing so formally and prettily… Sorry if I sound completely unintelligent in my posts, but I haven’t the patience or skill to do so. I’m going to write how I talk. IN STREAM-OF-CONSCIOUSNESS . Just kidding. But this might not be formal, or even grammatically correct. Also, beware of my spelling errors.]
Anyway. What do I want to talk about? The Dimensions of the Tutorial. Wonderful. More specifically, the Pretextual Dimension. First, I would like to say that Christina Murphy and Steve Sherwood’s discussion of the second and third dimensions, the Textual and Posttextual, were pretty logical. “The goal of most tutors is to assist students in making long-term improvement in their writing” (16). Yep. And the Posttextual, serving to provide closure and promote future learning experiences (22). Sure thing.
But let’s take a closer look at the first dimension, the Pretextual: “In the pretextual dimension, tutor and student begin the process of developing the interpersonal relationship that will guide their collaborations” (11). That sounds nice! But as I read on into the “examples”, my predominating thought was “Get real, Ms. Murphy and Mr. Sherwood!” The Pretextual dimension that they suggest would be pretty difficult for most of us to attain. I don’t think it’s possible for us to build such intimate relationships, or relationships at all, for that matter, with most of our tutees. It would be nice to know the student with whom our appoint is: to know their style, strengths, and weaknesses in writing, as well as their personalities — but that’s just not realistic. Most of these students just sign up with any available tutor when is convenient for them. They don’t care who looks at their paper (in most instances). Many of them come in only once, when their paper is finished. How are we to build relationships and a sense of understanding under these circumstances?
It would be nice if we worked with the same student multiple times on each paper, or if they even came often to the tutor who had become familiar with them (and I’m not saying this doesn’t happen, some tutees definitely like to choose the same tutors). But it’s just not realistic because it’s not what the tutees do. It’s fine for us to want to work toward these relationships and this understanding, but we can’t do it without a compliant tutee. And most of them are not, at least to standards such as these. Can you think of many students who would willingly come in for an appointment, without a completed paper to work on, just to get to know the tutor who will help them in the future? The ESL students, maybe. An a handful of enthusiastic students. That’s all that comes to my mind.
Pause to take a bite of my lunch.
Okay, so that all up there ^^^^^^ was what I though directly after reading that section in our fancypants Sourcebook for Writing Tutors. However, in my first two weeks of appointments, I was actually surprised… I had a few students (freshman and honors students, those might be contributing factors) come in multiple times for the same paper. I also had a few appointments that focused (and by the student’s choice!) just on their claim or introduction. I was shocked! And it actually was nice… I knew what they were working on when they came in again, I could see the changes and improvements that had been made, I knew their specific concerns… Is this the kind of relationship that Murphy and Sherwood spoke of, the relationship that I thought was unrealistic hogwash?
Not quite. But it’s a start. So maybe we can do something close to what they described. Ohhh, optimism. But it’s really as much up to the tutees as it is to the tutors.