The World on the Page

Lately I’ve been thinking about learning. It happens in so many ways outside of traditional classroom instruction, but I think we’re rarely aware of it when it occurs. So I’ve been taking stock, taking time to notice how I’m learning – whether it’s by reading recreationally, surfing internet articles, or driving through an unfamiliar part of Dallas. Of all the ways I learn new information, discover new ideas, and encounter new perspectives outside of the classroom, reading students’ papers in the Writing Center has to be my favorite.

There’s a common myth about academic services (like the Writing Center, the Math Lab, and so on). The myth says that learning in a place like that is a one-way street – that students learn and tutors/consultants teach. It is true in the Writing Center that we as consultants teach students certain academic skills, and we truly hope that students learn how to improve their writing. However, it is also true that students teach us new things, and personally, I learn something new every day in the UWC.

At this point, you may be expecting me to launch into a lecture about how teaching others teaches me how to teach. But that’s not where I’m going with this.

I’ve worked in the Writing Center for three years now, and in that time, I’ve probably read 2375681736846 papers. (Okay, maybe that’s an exaggeration, but you get the idea). With every one, I’ve done my part – I’ve kept my eyes peeled for grammatical errors and searched for ways the paper could be improved – but I’ve also listened, as students read, to what the papers were about. And I’ve learned so much!

I’ve learned about cell death from biology students.

I’ve learned about sports injuries from kinesiology students.

I’ve learned about the Minor Prophets from religion students.

(I could go on and on for days).

Even when I’m not encountering totally new information, hearing new perspectives is so refreshing. I’ve read about a million English 2302 papers about Tartuffe, and every student has a new insight about Molliere’s work. It never gets old.

Every new writer who walks through our doors has something unique to share, and it’s such a privilege to be the student body’s audience. We get to see the world on the page while helping students polish their papers, hone their skills, and boost their self-esteem. What could be better?

Students, it’s a blessing to serve you. So bring us your rough drafts, your outlines, your ideas. We want to learn something new from you.

Written by Caitlin

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