The Non-Directive Directive?

Apologies for this week's blog post title. Like many other people across the globe, I was utterly absorbed by the premiere of Star Trek: Discovery last night and am still recovering. 

Lately, I have been thinking a lot about the place of directive versus non-directive tutoring in writing center consultations. As it has been with every other Praxis editor, I began my time at the UWC as a consultant. Though my days are now full of article proofs, lengthy e-mail chains about proper MLA formatting, and conference-related considerations (such as IWCA in November), I once spent my time working with students one-on-one, helping them to improve their writing projects and processes however I could. Oftentimes, I felt constrained by the core writing center principle of non-directive guidance; a good deal of recent writing center research deals with this point of tension and its relationship to both language acquisition and identity politics (e.g. Horner et al., Canagarajah, etc.). We have even published some excellent work on these topics and similar intersections of theory and practice, such as Beatrice Mendez Newman's piece on tutoring translingual writers

Indeed, it seems as though our field is experiencing something of a sea change when it comes to balancing tried-and-true principles with an increased awareness of the populations our centers serve. So, with that in mind, what struggles have YOU experienced when trying to balance a non-directive tutoring approach with the exigencies presented by different student populations and assignment types? Feel free to chime in below, in the comments section. 

Navigating disability disclosure in the Writing Center: The other side of the table

Navigating disability disclosure in the Writing Center: The other side of the table

Lately, I have been writing eagerly on the subject of writing centers and disability disclosure. An important topic, for certain, but much of what I am researching and writing deals with sessions in which it is the tutee/writer who has a disability and therefore must navigate disclosure. In thinking about this, I am asking myself: What does disclosure in writing centers currently look like for a tutee with a disability? What should it look like? How does how we handle disability disclosure inform our practices—and how should our practices inform how we handle disability disclosure?

And yet, dealing with disclosure in the writing center is an everyday occurrence for me—only in the opposite direction. This is because 100% of my sessions happen with a person with a disability—but that person is me. 

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Kerri Rinaldi is a faculty writing center consultant at Drexel University. Her research interests include self-initiated writing practices and the framing of disability in writing center theory and practice

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The Accommodation Process: Disability in the Writing Center

The Accommodation Process: Disability in the Writing Center

When I first began working in the Writing Center, I was pretty astonished at the “types” of consultations that begin to appear over and over again: the brainstorming consultation, the revision consultation, the personal statement or application consultation, the ELL consultation, and finally the disability consultation. Every type seems to have its own unique mood and methodology, and now I find myself stepping into the rhythm of each writing project with a sense that I’ve heard this melody before. This is perhaps because I myself, like all other writing center consultants, have also experienced the writing process over and over again at each of its stages. But I also have experienced a different process, separate from writing, which is nonetheless deeply ingrained into my own writing center rhythms. My process is the process of requesting disability accommodation, not for my clients, but for myself. “Hello,” I say, “welcome to the writing center. Usually we go ahead and ask you where you would like to sit. But I do things a little differently. I am hard of hearing, and I need a more quiet space so that I can hear you and help you. Would you mind following me?” The students are always very accepting – they smile, they say, “that’s okay,” and they usually take the trouble to speak up when asked. I’ve never had trouble with this step in the process— each student I’ve worked with so far has been as eager to help me as they were eager to be helped.

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Case Study: Teaching What You (Don't) Know

Case Study: Teaching What You (Don't) Know

The Scenario:  Antoine came in to the writing center with a scholarly essay on cinema. He needed to write a two page summary of the article's main points, and was having trouble organizing his thoughts.

Bourdieu! I cried. Barthes! I'd be happy to help

One hour later, Kendra came into the writing center with a 350-word abstract the she was submitting to an undergraduate conference in biochemistry. She wanted help with concision and flow.

Reagent? I asked. RNA sequence? I leaned back in dismay.

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The Heart of our Meaning

The Heart of our Meaning

I've always had a theory that the rhetorics of science and religion have more in common than they let on. Call it confirmation bias, but Courtney Bailey Parker's article on "spiritualized language" in the most recent issue of Praxis highlights some of these parallels. 

Parker's article describes spiritualized language as a kind of jargon with unstable meaning that is frequently used by students in religious communities: phrases like "house of god"; "biblical attitude"; or the "spirit of god" appear as examples.

Parker identifies two problems with this discourse. First, it may provoke unintended responses from "readers who are not familiar or not complicit with [religious] language." Second, it may lack the nuance of a more sophisticated engagement with faith. 

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