Into Their Own Hands: A Decidedly Consultant Philosophy
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It is my third cup of coffee for the night, and my fifth consultation. She is a senior, first-timer, dangling her graduate school application essays in front of her and raising an eyebrow at me, her unexpectedly younger "tutor." "Consultant," I say, trying to sound casual but hoping she’ll tune into the importance of the difference. It is something we strive to promote in the writing center, a little word with a big ideology. I explain the way things generally run during a consultation: she tells me what should be my focus for workshopping, I read the paper silently or she reads it out loud, and then we work through the paper together, paying special attention to elements that concern her. She is surprised that I ask her to decide the focus of the session and stares at the paper mumbling “Well, everything” before her eyes catch on something familiar in the paragraphs, and she begins to remember–something she was wondering about her organization, something about her conclusion, something about citation. Her manner changes, and the pages she had half-tossed at me as she sat down she now gathers back into her own hands, pointing to particular sentences and thumbing ahead to find a problematic section. Her voice is steadier than before, and she leans forward in the chair as she explains what she wants her paper to accomplish. She is beginning to accept control of the work that she had been prepared to drop off at the door, and as we discuss possibilities, she will adopt or improve on some of my suggestions and disregard others without feeling any guilt or fear.