Statement of Tutoring Philosophy
From five-years-old on, I have been drawn to writing. As years have progressed, so too my conceptualization of writing. My appreciation of literature and writing began with its aesthetic features. I liked the way any idea could suddenly become beautiful or compelling if particular personalities put ideas to paper, and I believed I could have some semblance to “that” personality. I have since strayed far from the idea that good writing lends itself to particular personalities and excludes the rest. I now believe truly good writing can derivefrom three components that anyone can develop, and these three components are what I essay to invoke in my tutoring: intention in writing, interest in writing, and thoughtfulness in writing.
When I say interest in writing, I’m not referring to the action of writing itself. Rather I mean having an interest in the writing itself, the content, the ideas. Just as one is more inclined to listen to a person who is truly interested in what s/he is trying to communicate and not just glibly talking about the weather, readers are far more inclined to read that which they can tell the writer truly enjoyed writing. It is a quality of writing that is essentially genuine and can rarely be falsely manufactured. Thus in tutoring sessions, I try to elicit writers’ interest in their paper if it was absent when they chose the topic, or I remind them of it if they lost it at some point in the writing process. If people feel their ideas are interesting,they will almost always be more invested in the efficacy of expressing them. Compelling writing comes from compelled writers.
Interest, however, cannot stand alone. It is an unstable mode of being if not substantiated by thoughtfulness. The idea of thoughtfulness in writing can be simplified as the presence of considered questions surrounding each idea in a piece of writing. These questions could arise from the brainstorming stage to the final draft stage, and I believe one responsibility in my role is to add and inspire more questions. The superficial yet valuable result is a paper stripped of easily refuted arguments and one that could engage a wider audience. Yet is more important as a writing tutor is to model rigorous questioning so they replicate it in other papers as well as other areas of their lives. When writing becomes an expedition, interest only intensifies.
Unchecked interest and thoughtfulness is both sufficient and necessary for the brainstorming stage of writing where one benefits from allowing the extent of their imagination to be available. When one then has a number of ideas to cull and organize, intention must enter the process. I think of having intention as the point in which writers direct their attention towards communication and establishes a reason for every decision in their writing. For instance, the writer has a reason s/he chose that type of organization and that word with that connotation. This is an undeniably idealistic standard for writers to have a reason for every single aspect of their writing. Even many proficient writers have not achieved this, either because of the immense effort it requires to think through every detail and/or some of their automatic writing decisions escaped their notice. Yet it is still a standard worth striving towards to be an effective communicator. For this reason, I often ask writers why they chose to do or express something the way they did. I don’t ask this to make them feel silly if they cannot immediately report a reason. Rather I ask both to show that there was a decision made whether it was conscious or subconscious and to invite them to explore their mental process to uncover their reasoning.
I believe tutoring writers is about creating the right atmosphere for writing. One that fosters reciprocal interest, thoughtfulness, and intention between writers and encourages the ongoing exchange of ideas.