“Man Speaking to Men:” The Writing Center as an Arm to the Liberal Arts.

personWilliam Wordsworth defines a poet as “a man speaking to men… a man pleased with his own passions and volitions, and who rejoices more than other men in the spirit of life that is in him” (sic) (299). Every person, to Wordsworth, is a poet in his or her fashion; however, one becomes a better poet when he or she delves deeper in to the beauty of life. Thus, a poet takes a holistic mindset of life, praising both the mundane and glorious. This correlates to the ideal of a college which studies the liberal arts. As Arthur Holmes details, “the liberal arts are those which are appropriate to persons as persons, rather than to the specific function of a worker or a professional or even a scholar” (emphasis added) (27).

So, how does a Writing Center help establish people as people? How can it contribute to the development of the soul, and thereby become an arm to the liberal arts? I would like to make two quick points in accordance to these questions.

First, the liberal arts are the consummation of the individual and tradition. Conflicting with Wordsworth, T.S. Eliot postulates in “Tradition and the Individual Talent” that “no poet, no artist of any art, liberalarts_2865655-655x280has his complete meaning alone. His significance, his appreciation is the appreciation of his relation to the poets and artist” (2556). In the Writing Center, consultants guide students according to predating rules and distinctions made in the English language. However, a consultant fulfills this task while allowing the student to produce his or her original work. Thus, the individual exists, hence man to men, while within the realms of tradition.

Second, the liberal arts mature versatile persons. Indeed, the Writing Center, and education in general, can be seen as a mechanism to future success. Students often enter the Writing Center anticipating an assembly line service. They desire to hand in their essays and expect the employees of the Writing Center to correct sloppy grammar, refigure poor syntax, update formatting, and revamp un-academic diction. After this smoldering purification process, the students return and gleefully submit their essays to their respective professors.

Though this appears freeing, this mentality actually entraps and handicaps students. They become dependent on the Writing Center to craft an excellent paper. On the other hand, if consultants interact with students, then the consultant is able to explain why a certain linguistic rule exists and the logic behind Liberal-Arts-Educationit. The student then is able to utilize this knowledge in the future. Not only this, the Writing Center aids the student in thinking logically. Logical reasoning is beneficial towards all aspects of life, allowing the Writing Center’s influence to move past the walls of a room or building.

Let us then, as Writing Centers and employees of Writing Centers, learn how to be an arm of the liberal arts and promote a love in the liberal arts in all students we come in contact with.

Works Cited

Holmes, F. Arthur. The Idea of a Christian College. Revised ed. Grand Rapids: Wm. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1987. Print.

Eliot, T.S. “Tradition and the Individual Talent.” The Norton Anthology English Literature. Ed. Stephen Greenblatt. 9th ed. Vol. F. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 2012. 2554- 2559. Print.

Wordsworth, William. “Preface o Lyrical Ballads.” The Norton Anthology of English Literature. Ed. Stephen Greenblatt. 9th ed. Vol. D. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, Inc., 2012. 292-304. Print.

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Building an Army

armyI hate to admit this, but I failed the first college level paper I ever wrote.

I’m not much of a crier. When my boyfriend broke up with me, I didn’t shed a tear. When precious little Rue died in the arena of the Hunger Games, my eyes were dry. And do you think I cried when my professor returned that ill-fated paper?

You better believe I bawled my eyes out.

I was not upset that I had missed a simple typo in the last paragraph, or that a couple of my points could have been rephrased for clarity. I was not even upset that I had a failing grade.

Along with the unpleasant score came an unexpected note, which can appropriately be called a hate letter. Among other things, the letter falsely accused me of intentional manipulation and racism. My professor’s point was very clear; he did not fail me because my mechanics were inferior or because my paper lacked the right information. He failed me because my opinions—my personal convictions—did not match his own. This blindsided attack on my ideas is what left me in tears, an187548-army-helmetd I believe it is the horror of such a crushing possibility that kills the spirit of most writers, long before they even start.

Writing demands intimacy. No matter what we write, whether it be a research paper, a marketing proposal, or an Amazon review, when words flow from our heads to our hands, a part of our hearts go with it. With intimacy comes vulnerability. In the secret place of our minds, our thoughts are safe. Nobody can judge, criticize, or belittle our ideas as long as we keep them to ourselves. With vulnerably comes fear. Fear is the thing that keeps us from writing what we feel we ought to see. Fear convinces us that we should second-guess our judgments and leave writing to the “experts.”

For obvious reasons, I refuse to support the lie that writing your ideas will never result in rejection. People are going to give hurtful, negative feedback. That is an inevitable part of being human. The good news is, the voices of haters may be loud in decibel, but they are surprisingly few in number. No matter what kind of harsh criticism you’ve faced, you must refuse to let fear control your writing.

The best way to combat fear is with an army. For every person who attacks your ideas, dozens more are willing to defend your work and help you to better form your craft. One professor may have rejected what I had to say, but his or her voice is soldiersonly one of many. Soldiers who fight for my writing range from my mom to a multi-millionaire businessman whom I have yet to meet. These supporters are the voices I chose to listen to.

You, too, must have an army. If you are unsure where to find recruits, start with the University Writing Center. At the UWC, we aren’t paid to rip apart your ideas. No one is going to respond to your writing with a careless hate letter. A good army of advocates won’t tell you your writing is worthless, but they won’t say it’s perfect either. We will point out grammatical errors, ask you to clarify paragraphs, and change your paper to fit formatting standards, but we do this because your writing is worthy of reconstruction, not condemned to demolition. We value the quality of your writing, because whether you realize it or not, your writing reflects who you are. And you, my friend, are more valuable than you may ever know.

Written by Savanna

For more on writing, check out this website: http://www3.dbu.edu/uwc/

The UWC Golden Rule and Tough Tuesdays

out-of-orderWhen students walk into the Writing Center, I am one of the first things people see, and sometimes, I hate that.

Tuesdays are the worst for me. I have four classes, the first one beginning at eight o’clock that morning, and then I work my longest shift that afternoon and evening. For someone who requires at least seven hours of sleep to function above the level of “brain-dead zombie,” it can be ridiculously difficult to be the bright-eyed, bushy-tailed greeter for nervous students.

I’ve been scared of phones since toddlerhood. Asking strangers questions is one of my greatest fears. Why in the world am I a receptionist?

Because I can think of no other job that allows me to help and love on people quite so much.Golden-Rule-1

If I can assist a student in getting ready for his or her consultation and make him or her laugh in the process, I have accomplished something I feel is important. If the student is at ease, he or she thinks more clearly and is more willing to listen to what his or her consultant suggests. The consultant’s job is made easier, and the student’s paper is improved.

There’s a reason this works so well, one that guides me every day, even when I’m not at work. It can be phrased something like this: “If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself,’ you are doing right” (James 2:8).

Pretty straightforward, no? Loving others is right. Note that James doesn’t really specify what “loving your neighbor” is 4.-Follow-the-Golden-Rulesupposed to look like. I take this to mean that we show different kinds of love in different situations. To love on students, I show them that I am their friend, that we do everything we can to help them. To love on consultants, I help keep their workspace clean and keep records organized.

Cheesy? Yes. Have you heard this before? Probably. But if this weren’t true, my job would be completely pointless.

Tough Tuesdays are a little easier when I get to pour love into others. It sounds like a paradox, and perhaps it is, but I personally wouldn’t have it any other way.

~ Catherine