I believe Mel Levine’s point about how students not performing at their optimum level should not be written off as “lazy” is significant because it is a label that does not take into consideration the reasons behind why such laziness even exists in the first place. I agree with the author in that there are many students who face “one or more high hurdles stubbornly obstructing their ways to successful output” (4). The key in helping students achieve their best output is to aid them in removing such obstructions. Often times, the student lacks confidence in articulating his or her thoughts. As a tutor, it is his or her job to help the student believe that they are fully capable of writing a phenomenal essay; some may need to work much harder than others, but it is my belief that every student has the capacity and that we as tutors must guide these students.
While I believe that Levine has good intentions in mind and truly cares about dispelling the myth of laziness, I do not agree with his use of the term “output failure” in defining an undesirable outcome of work. The word failure has such a negative connotation and I think it causes greater discouragement for a student. I think this brings into question of what constitutes as failure and success for a student; Roberta’s case brought forth the problem of the different ways that success can be defined. For some of Roberta’s teachers, she excelled as a student because she did remarkable on tests but in the eyes of other teachers, she was merely a “phenomenal information recorder” (9) who lacked creativity and analytical skills. I believe that being simply a recorder is just not as fulfilling as being truly engaged and investing part of yourself in your writing.
In my first session of tutoring, I found myself encouraging my student to develop his ideas further by incorporating his personal responses to the author’s arguments. I found it effective to inform him that he was allowed to disagree or delve deeply into why he accepted the author’s points. I have noticed that many students, including myself at times, tend to forget that it is not fruitful for us to accept every piece of information that is presented; in order to develop critical thinking skills, students must be more open to not only challenging points made by authors in their readings but to also be more open to challenging traditional ways of thinking in general. Levine brings up the issue of “vertical loyalty” that poses a serious problem for people in discovering their creative selves. People often absorb other people’s ideas from their respective fields or environments and refrain from venturing away from commonly accepted ideas, thus stifling any potential for creativity or true fulfillment in one’s work.
In order to produce fulfilling work as a writer, one must be willing to free oneself from the binds of traditional thoughts imposed by others and to integrate oneself within one’s writing.