On Writing Tutors

Just yesterday someone asked me to look over an analysis paper written for an English class AFTER it was turned in. So I did. And I was surprised to find out that this person had a writing tutor.¬†And this wasn’t the first time I’ve been asked to do this for someone.

I have to be honest. When I was in college I wrote somewhere between 30-40 papers. Maybe 20-25 percent of those were English analysis papers and the rest were CJ papers. But the topics never mattered, not really. I always knew my worst paper would never score any lower than a high B. This has nothing to do with cockiness or even confidence, it’s simple fact. I wrote more than 90 percent of all of my papers in college between midnight and eight in the morning of the day they were due. Why did I do this? Because it worked for me.

Anyway, the point I’m making is that I know how to write great college papers like I know the back of my hand. It’s just something that was easy for me as it most likely was easy for you. So when someone asks me to read over something I don’t play nice. I give it to them straight. Because what’s the point of being asked for my opinion if I’m going to pretend that it’s something it isn’t? Turns out almost everything I told this person had already been said by the professor.

But it got me thinking about the writing tutor who has repeatedly said she disagrees, and that the paper is excellent. I don’t particularly care what another person says about it because I read it with my own eyes and reached my own conclusions.

So I put myself in the shoes of a writing tutor. See, writing isn’t the same as math or some other subject in which there is a very clear right and wrong answer. One person can reach the exact same conclusion via a completely different route from another person. And that’s okay. And I realized that my philosophy as a tutor would likely be very different from just about anyone else’s. As a tutor, I’d want to be involved with the student as early on in the essay writing process as possible. And time permitting, I’d do the assignment myself. Perhaps without the student having knowledge of this. Because then I’d be in their shoes with a real perspective as opposed to someone who is simply looking at the paper.

But my question really comes down to how much should the tutor help? Let’s say the paper is gone over once with the student and corrections suggested. How many more times should this be done, if any, before the paper becomes the work of the tutor rather than the work of the student? I don’t necessarily have the answer to that, but I do think a tutor has a responsibility to the student to be honest. Be critical. Be reasonable. Don’t give the student ridiculous expectations that can’t be reached. If you work with a student who is really struggling and you’ve reached the point at which the paper is as good as it’s going to be as written by the student, then say that. But don’t give them the idea that it’s better than it is. Because you’re really not helping at that point.

I have no experience with writing tutors, do you?


On this day in 2014 I published Books You MUST Read.

 

That Pesky Oxford Comma

The Oxford Comma

Photo Credit

First off, I’m not going to explain what the Oxford comma is. You should know. But honestly, it’s because I’m writing this post immediately after getting off work and I have a limited amount of time before my usual posting time. So…I’m rushing.

Anyway, when I was in school (I’m talking during the elementary years) I remember specifically being taught to use the Oxford comma. Always. And during middle and high school, and also in college I used it in every essay I ever wrote. Never once was I corrected. But if you just read enough blog posts you’ll find that a lot of people don’t use it. From every part of the world.

I’ve read that it is used much less in the UK than it is in America. And I really have no idea why that is. All I know is that I’ve always and will continue to use it. Until I’m given a very credible source telling me not to.

Do you have any secret knowledge about it? Do share.

One Space, Two Space…There is no Debate

I’m sure you have absolutely no idea what the heck I’m going to be talking about if you just read the title of this post. That’s okay. I’m only writing this because I’ve read other posts that just leave me scratching my head. I’m talking about the number of spaces after finishing a sentence. This is not something I thought could be questioned. To me it’s like asking if the ¬†first letter of the first word in a sentence should be capitalized. Let’s go on a quick trip down memory lane.

When I was in high school and my English teacher would give out paper assignments I struggled to meet the minimum length requirements. And by struggled I mean I did whatever I possibly could to write less than the required length. There are a number of ways to do this that I won’t get into, but I am well aware that these tactics are used every school year in just about every setting. One of the things that I did during my high school days was put two spaces after every finished sentence. I did this for some time. But if my memory serves me correctly, one of my English teachers told me about it and said it is proper to only have one space. I ignored her. Ha. But in college I was told again. And this time I was more comfortable with my writing and thought page requirements were hilarious because they were so easy. So I decided to use the appropriate number of spaces after a sentence rather than be docked points.

But make no mistake about it, I never thought two spaces was proper. I just used two spaces as long as I was allowed to do so. Pretty much what we all do when we’re doing something that isn’t quite right. But now, seeing “writers” claiming that there is no set rule and they use two spaces is an absolute joke. Write something in Word and use one space after sentences and then change it to two spaces. It does not look right. At all. So shut up.

I would link to A LOT of academic and other credible resources that tell you what is and is not acceptable when it comes to this particular question, but I’m not. Cause this isn’t a valid question at all.