Anis Bawarshi and Stephanie Pelkowski, authors of Postcolonialism and the Idea of a Writing Center, focus upon the concept of writing centers as a place for “fostering multiple perspectives on writing” (79). Both authors describe how in the 1920s, writing centers in universities aimed to change, or rather contain, how the student writes. The students went through much “remediation” and were told robotically as to how to write a paper. The students that were not academically steady are taught that “they are Other and in need of remediation, and then convincing them that being academically literate is the most prestigious, most civilized state of being—that, in fact, the university is a place that emancipates them from their familiar subject positions by teaching them a universal objective discourse,” (87).
These methods, however, are exactly what Bawarshi and Pelowski are arguing against. In support of their argument, Stephen North was also quoted into their essay, stating that “ways to move beyond the old version of the writing center as skills fix-it shop or quarantine” (88) is for the better because the importance is that the writer understands deeper meaning to writing. North further says that in “his ‘new’ version of the writing center, the emphasis is on the process, not the product, on the writer, not the text: ‘in a writing center, the object is to make sure that writers, and not necessarily their texts, are what get changed by instruction’” (83). The main argument that Bawarshi, Pelkowski, and North are getting at is to not just write for the sake of writing, but to understand what it means to write. A postcolonial writing center is a place where students are taught “how to retrace the formal and texual effects of academic discourses to their rhetorical and social sources” (92).
What is most interesting is that the “context for learning independent of what North calls the university’s ‘external curriculum,’ the writing center does indeed ‘help students reverse their attitudes toward themselves as writers and towards writing…’” (84). In high school, I never thought of myself as a good writer and so did not enjoy writing. But after going through the “process” at the writing center, I found myself enjoying writing a lot more. My attitudes towards writing changed and I approached writing in an entirely different way. Not only was I more creative with my ideas, but I was also more explorative with my writing style. This, I guess, is what Bawarshi, Pelkowski and North wanted out of student writers; to be able to find their voice in writing and affect others with it.