Wednesday, February 27, 2008

The Downside of Tutoring

The downside of tutoring is that students expect their papers to turn out perfect.

The course that teaches future basic writing teachers (the course I originally wrote this blog for) requires grad students to arrange tutoring sessions with basic writing students. It's a great idea, since most of them will only have a vague notion of what these writers are like. (They're pretty normal people.)

After I passed back my students' second graded paper, one student approached me visibly upset about her grade. She explained that the tutor hadn't seen any grammatical problems and that the problems in her paper were the result of his suggestion.

I've been a tutor. I don't honestly believe that this particular tutor gave her bad advice. She simply misunderstood his advice, or in trying to apply his advice, took a risk and used devices that she hasn't yet mastered.

I guess I need to further emphasize that the goal is for them to leave this class as good writers. If the tutor hadn't made suggestions, she might not have had those grammar errors. But she would be in the exact same place she had been as a writer. It may seem to her that something bad happened because her grade wasn't so great. But hopefully in the end something good happened--she learned something new.