Playing the Game
I remember sitting with my friend in math class after recently receiving our SATS results and comparing scores, but when I found out how well she had done, I exclaimed, “How did you do so well?” “I’m just good at playing the game,” she retorted. I did not quite understand what she meant at the time, but since her explanation I have realized: people know how to get the “A” without actually thinking; they just know what to say and how to say it.
In “Postcolonialism and the Idea of a Writing Center,” by Anis Bawarshi and Stephanie Pelkowlski, the purpose of a writing center is stated: to help writers understand themselves and demystify writing, which leads to critical thinking and away from adhering strictly to the “academic code.” I agree with what these two have said, especially regarding the teaching of writers who come from diverse backgrounds and with very little writing experience. I do believe that we must help the writers that come to the Plangere Center to understand how to write while thinking critically, not simply how to write to get an “A” in their writing course. The writing center is an outlet for students to improve their writing and to receive guidance. The students must understand how to express themselves, in writing, to an academic audience, without losing their own voices. It can be a great struggle since many students do not have a strong grammatical background, so their ideas are hindered by their flagrant grammar errors. We must help our students learn to create their own ideas without falling into what they perceive as the “academic way.”
As Miriam said at the beginning of the semester, we are not only writing tutors, but also writing therapists. Writing centers are outlets to help improve students’ writing. It is there to help emphasize the importance of using one’s voice and to help students express what they want to say in a way that all can understand. As tutors, we need to remind our students to “keep it real,” and not, simply, to play the game.