Friday, January 20, 2012

Writing Center Ethics as a Habit of Mind

What does it mean to tutor ethically?

What are best writing center practices?

What degree of confidentiality should a tutor afford a writer? 

How much tutoring is too much tutoring?

 We'll discuss these and other questions about tutoring in light of a simple premise. We often face in our work times when we are extra busy, extra stressed, extra challenged. And often it is at times of high demand, stress, and challenge that ethics can slip. Coaching can fall into inadvertent editing of the student's work, or a writer struggling with a poorly designed assignment might lead the tutor to critique the professor who wrote the assignment, to name just two examples.

So the question is: how to we use good habits of mind and practice to help us stay ethical in hard circumstances, when ethics are perhaps most needed?

Some suggested readings for discussion and reflection:

Betty Hoskins, "Ethics and Empathy in the Writing Center," at . Hoskins talks about degrees of help, but also the ideal of not criticizing faculty for poor assignments or trying to find blame for weak writers.

"Are Writing Centers Ethical" by at by Irene Clark and Dave Healy focuses mostly on the fear that tutors will cross a line and do the work of the student.

The Weatherford College Writing Center's code of ethics