Equity and Ability: Metaphors of Inclusion in Writing Center Promotion




Rollins, Anna

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As I promote the services that our writing center offers to faculty members across disciplines, I always try to be careful of the language I use to discuss exactly what it is we do in our writing center. I know the perceptions: the writing center will help you with your grammar or the writing center will help you fix your paper. Our goal, I try to emphasize to faculty members, is not to help your students fix their papers; our goal is to help them become better writers. The way these two ideals contradict one another is not always apparently obvious to an individual not steeped in the scholarship of composition or writing center theory. Those of us who work with first year writers or in the writing center know that the metaphor invoked in the phrase “my writing needs to be fixed” is one that is inaccurate at best and crushing at worst; in fact, a student’s writing is not something that is broken. And even if the writing appears to convey a student’s gaps in knowledge regarding composition, we do not want our writing centers to be viewed as places where those with splintered skills receive a sort of diagnosis and prescription.

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