When we look beyond who is writing to whom to the texts and social systems that stand in relation to that act of writing. If the teaching of writing is to reach disciplinary status, it will be achieved through recognition that writing processes are, as Stanley Fish says of linguistic knowledge, "contextual rather than abstract, local rather than general, dynamic rather than invariant" - Lester Faigley in "Competing Theories of Process: A Critique and a Proposal"
Tutors and Community
"Theory to Practice: Building the 21st Century Writing Center Community" by Frances Johnson, Susan Garza, and Noelle Ballmer. Journal of College Reading and Learning 39.2, 2009.
The next article we recommend for insertion is "Theory to Practice: Building the 21st Century Writing Center Community" by Frances Johnson, Susan Garza, and Noelle Ballmer. The authors in this article research process and collaboration theories in accordance with tutors and multiliteracies. Their research expands beyond the perception North claims as a current-traditional “fix it shop” to a post-process collaborative theory that Lester Faigley argues for in the quote above.
As a method for tutors to meet the increasing diversity of student writers and perceptions from teachers in the digital era, Johnson, Garza, and Ballmer delineate the structure of teaching the writing process by creating a cyclical writing community that involves input from faculty, tutors, and students. With an elaborate examination of collaboration theory in digital writing and writing across the curriculum, the authors suggest:
“Rather than consultants working “in the middle” roles… consultants provided for teachers the same kind of support they provided for students who came to the writing center for help. And we drew instructors into the type of relationship that went on in a real writing community” (87).
By basing their models on the "students' own initiative to seek help" (88), the authors research and argue for a collaboration between teachers, students, and tutors to design workshops, assignments, and basic level writing programs.
"This writing community discussion could also lead into developing specialized in-house workshops as well as other opportunities for growth" (Johnson 87).
Even though their research and theory of a “real writing community” is not so different from Harris’ theory in “The Idea of Community in the Study of Writing,” “one is always simultaneously a part of several discourses, several communities, is always ready committed to a number of conflicting beliefs and practices” (755), their writing community evolves from Harris' to demonstrate the importance of tutors and their role in the community and in teaching students’ writing.
The inclusion of this article is important because it not only expands Harris' research but also presents a response to Faigley's question of "why the majority of college writing courses are taught by graduate students and other persons in nontenurable positions" (663). The importance of writing center tutors working with the faculty and students encourages them to build a more cohesive and collaborative writing community for which they can make "better writers-- not writing" (Johnson, Garza, and Ballmer 90).
Not only is collaboration and community involvement central to writing center theory but so is understanding writing in different languages. Nancy Wilson presents the issue of writing center tutors and teaching beyond standard American English. Click here for Wilson.
Below is a Storify of a Twitter conversation last spring. Tutors from around the world gather together on Twitter to have a conversation on topics and issues going on in the world's writing centers. These conversations include tutors, directors, students, and faculty.