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Portrait of the Tutor as an Artist: Lessons No One Can Teach

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Matthew DeMarco

on 26 August 2014

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Transcript of Portrait of the Tutor as an Artist: Lessons No One Can Teach

Portrait of the Tutor as an Artist: Lessons No One Can Teach
Going Beyond the Training
Being a writing tutor or consultant requires
talent for writing, speaking, interacting
familiarity with specific types of writers, situations, assignments, rules of engagement
Group Question
What defines a hobby, practice, or field as an "art"?
What makes a consultant an "artist"?
By Steven Sherwood
Presentation by Matthew DeMarco for CCC Writing Consultant Training, 2014
Becoming a writing tutor
experience with: surprise, circumstance, improvisation, and flow
An artisan
Relies on scripts and procedures
Uses formulaic recipes regardless of circumstances
An artist
Views formulaic recipes as "flexible rather than binding"
Inhabits an uneasy space balancing ethics, practices and social customs
Is "in the moment"-treats each tutorial as a unique thing
First technique of tutor as artist: taste for surprise
Key ingredients; rapport and conversation
May result in "hopping" or "short-circuiting"
May spontaneously produce original, valuable insights
Second technique of tutor as artist: responding to circumstances
There is no script, no lesson plan to the session
Requires finesse in navigating ethics: the journal example
Reading the student before you: comfortable with frankness, or uncomfortable
The third technique of the tutor as artist: improvisation
The key ingredient: investment in the present moment
Search for hidden complexities
Treat each session as a unique experience
Go with the "flow"
Improv comedy and jazz techniques
The fourth technique of tutor as artist: openness to "flow"
Flow's key ingredient: complete absorption in complex work, physically, mentally, etc.
Results in a more satisfying experience for consultant and client
Keeps the tutor invigorated
A back-and-forth of ideas with clear investment from both parties
The portrait: Ben Graber
Ben Graber's progress
Quotation during a presentation:
Tutoring would "not be a safe job; we're in the business of helping people to put their lives on display, or at least to publish their lives for a select audience, and it's something very serious."
A parting thought from Sherwood:
"Each tutor possesses a different mix of aptitudes, and no writing center director can anticipate all the quandries a tutor will face in the writing center, so I doubt we can develop a program to mass produce artistic tutors. But we can caution them against complacency and help them see ambiguous, frustrating, frightening, or difficult tutorials as chances to explore, improvise, reflect, and grow."
Do you find the idea of encountering unknown situations in the writing center exhilarating or terrifying?
How can we make sure students are as open to treating the session as an "art" as we hope to be?
How do we balance the discoveries we make treating tutoring as an "art" with a tangible product on the student's end?
Since this reading largely pivots on the unexpected, maybe Hannah can share some stories of unexpected situations in the Writing Center last year...
Full transcript