A Game of Solitaire with Many Players: US Writing Centers from a German Perspective

Uncategorized / Monday, December 7th, 2015

By Stephanie Dreyfürst

Stephanie Dreyfürst, founder and director of the Writing Center at Frankfurt’s Goethe-University, holds a PhD in Early Modern German Literature. She is interested in everything that has to do with (academic) writing, reading, and thinking. Her favorite areas of research include WAC/WID programs, genre, rhetorics, and the acquisition of academic writing competency. She’s an avid lover of opera and a proud member of the board of the German Skeptics.

Recently, I was on a six-week long research trip which led me to different Writing Centers in the US. My main focus was on researching the effects the local Writing Fellow programs have on faculty, students, and the writing fellows themselves. But aside from that task, I couldn’t help noticing the similarities and differences between different Writing Center “cultures” in the States and in Germany. When I came to my first stop (the über-impressive Writing Center at the University of Wisconsin-Madison), I was welcomed with incredible warmth and open arms. Three wonderful colleagues from two other German Writing Centers (Viadrina University Frankfurt (Oder) and Leibniz University Hannover) were also staying at UW Madison at the same time. The amount of work that Bradley Hughes and his team had put into the preparation of our visit was immense: We felt like members of the team immediately and were able to talk to many incredibly interesting people and learn a lot.

Why I Traveled to the US

In fall 2013, my colleague Franziska Liebetanz, the director of the Writing Center at the above mentioned Viadrina University, and we at the Writing Center of Frankurt’s Goethe University introduced the Writing Fellow program to Germany, after learning the ropes from Brad Hughes who had come to both our institutions to teach us about the guidelines and effects of the program. We had invited him and the former assistant director of the WAC program at UW-Madison, Stephanie White, to Germany, because we wanted to make use of their experts’ knowledge in situ.

Lake Trip_2
Franziska, Simone, and Anja on Lake Mendota in Madison, Wisconsin

How did we come up with the idea of inviting experts from abroad in the first place? A year before the actual import, the founder of Viadrina’s Writing Center, Katrin Girgensohn, had been a visiting scholar at UW Madison and there she came in contact with the writing fellow program. Because she spent an entire year at various Writing Centers in the US (with a “home base” in Madison), Katrin was able to delve deeply into the writing pedagogy scene in the US. (Here you’ll find a wonderful interview with her).

When Katrin came back to Germany, she brought with her a huge amount of inspiration and new ideas about what a Writing Center can be and do. The Writing Center community in Germany is still in its infancy (compared to the US), but it is growing fast and its members are extremely well connected. Katrin is one of the most important figures in the expanding field of Angewandte Schreibwissenschaft (Applied Writing Studies), and she is always willing to share her knowledge with others.

When we talked about her time in the US, my colleague Nadja Sennewald, co-director of the Writing Center, and I immediately thought that introducing such a program could have tremendous benefits–not only by supporting student in practicing their writing skills, but also for faculty members who can then act as multipliers of the Writing Center’s methods directly in their discipline.

So right from the beginning, there was this constant flux of people moving back and forth between different Writing Centers, taking and bringing with them new knowledge, ideas, impressions, concepts, visions and so on. And although we live in what we now call a “digital era,” knowledge often travels like in the Early Modern Period–via people. Not unlike the Humanist circles of scholars, we are all members of our own res publica litteraria. We share ideas through texts, but we also like to gather in person, so we can talk and listen to each other and compare our experiences. Nowadays, international meetings mostly happen in English and not in Latin anymore, and the topics might have changed a bit, too–but the base line is still the same: There seems to be a common understanding that knowledge thrives best when shared and new ideas should ideally be discussed with other people, to make them stronger and better.

Humanist scholars in debate, Augsburg 1540. (Bayerische Staatsbibliothek München, 7017313 Res/2 Enc. 8 7017313 Res/2 Enc. 8, http://www.mdz-nbn-resolving.de/urn/resolver.pl?urn=urn:nbn:de:bvb:12-bsb10196669-3)
Humanist scholars in debate, Augsburg 1540.
(Bayerische Staatsbibliothek München, 7017313 Res/2 Enc. 8 7017313 Res/2 Enc. 8, http://www.mdz-nbn-resolving.de/urn/resolver.pl?urn=urn:nbn:de:bvb:12-bsb10196669-3)

The German Writing Center scene is heavily influenced by the US, especially by what I would call our attitude towards the sharing of knowledge which differs a lot from our own academic traditions. Let me explain: When I entered the field of Writing Pedagogy and research in Germany in 2006, I was a somewhat typical German scholar whose main interests had so far been in researching literature, genre, and rhetorics. After deciding that Writing Center work was far more exciting than everything I had ever encountered, I happily embraced the unwritten rules of my new “peer group”: Writing Center people in Germany love collaborative learning (and writing), we cherish our peer tutors and find sharing our knowledge exciting, especially when we meet in person. And we do that on a very regular basis. Even our youngest members do. Since 2009 German peer tutors have their own annual conference where the “bosses” are basically being kept in an extra room, a bit like those places in shopping malls where tired family members are being entertained until it is time to go home.

Possible sign at the next German Peer Writing Tutor Conference
Possible sign at the next German Peer Writing Tutor Conference

When some of our most prominent figures like Katrin Girgensohn and Gerd Bräuer imported the concept of collaborative learning and peer tutoring from the US and applied it to our still minuscule Writing Center scene in Germany, we basically changed centuries-old practices at our universities, where the (white, male) professor was always right and younger members of the scientific community had to be asked before they were allowed to speak at meetings. It was a genuine paradigm shift to listen to our tutors (and now Writing Fellows). This has given us a new way of thinking and working together. So when I traveled to the Mutterland of Bruffee’s concept of collaboration and the sharing of knowledge, I was somewhat expecting to find the same kind of constant exchange of ideas between Writing Centers and all of their members. Well–I didn’t. Or not everywhere I went, at least.

Higher Education in Germany

To understand why I found the situation in some places somewhat puzzling, I have to delve a little further into the German Higher Education system: For some reason, we seem to be unable to get our priorities straight. In Germany, we have no natural resources, no oil wells, nor can we rely on anything but our minds when it comes to doing something productive with our lives. Education is supposed to be at the base of all our merits and we are (still, I hope) known for doing quite good research and for coming up with some great technology (when we don’t manipulate the data, as was the case in the recent scandal involving Volkswagen). Universities or Higher Education in general should be our country’s number one priority, one should think. But alas, this is not the case.

German students do not have to pay large amounts of fees which sets us aside from almost every country on this planet. Here, a student pays around 250 dollars per semester; plus, there is cheap health insurance and when you’re enrolled as a student, you have free access to the brilliant public transport in and around the place where you study. Sounds like some kind of academic paradise to you? It is not, if you consider that the money for our universities, their staff, tutors and so on has to come from somewhere and in our case this is a) the federal or state government and/or b) private foundations. As a member of faculty in Germany, one is constantly writing yet another grant proposal in order to find the means to continue your daily work. That is, if the law doesn’t keep you from teaching at a university all together which happens automatically six years after you have completed your PhD. Don’t ask, it doesn’t make any sense to us either. Germany has the absolute worst relation between short-term contracts and permanent positions: nine out of ten members of faculty are not hired on a permanent basis and of these 90% percent every other contract lasts for less than a year.

While this sounds far from being ideal conditions, it has forced us to cooperate on a level that has no precedents in our academic history. Writing Center directors, staff, and tutors all cling together and try to support each other–even across institutional borders. When a university thinks about closing down the doors of a Writing Center, we start writing flaming letters and try to intervene on the behalf of our colleagues. Every year, there are many different occasions when we meet each other. We also try to have some “couch surfing” routine going, so we all can travel on a budget. We know that we can’t survive without each other. Sharing our experiences, strategies, and successes as well as our failures has become standard practice. Since there are no entrenched habits, we have to rely on each other. There might come a time when we are all so well established that we won’t have to do that anymore, but this time hasn’t come yet.

The Solitary or Bubble Effect

UW-Madison Writing Fellow C. during a conference; she had just come back from presenting at the IWCA in Pittsburgh
UW-Madison Writing Fellow C. during a conference; she had just come back from presenting at the IWCA in Pittsburgh

In the States, I was amazed by the professional and friendly atmosphere in all the Writing Centers I visited. I saw wonderfully equipped workshop rooms, excellent reception and meeting areas, impressive calendars of events, and most of all, wonderful people who obviously loved and excelled at what they were doing. The internal network of the programs’ directors, assistant directors and tutors was firmly installed and worked like a well-oiled machine. There seems to be some kind of family spirit in all of the Centers that made me feel at home immediately. And I could see that the tutors loved working at their Writing Center, too.

But what surprised me was the fact that there was virtually no or very little exchange going on between the directors of Writing Fellow programs at other places, and especially not on a tutor/Writing Fellow level. Why was that? Was it that I just couldn’t see what was going on? Did all the sharing of knowledge happen via papers, phone calls, emails, at conferences? Was I so late to the metaphorical party that the main event had already happened? I couldn’t be sure. So I went ahead and asked some of the people I interviewed why there didn’t seem to be a lot of knowledge exchange going on between places. One person said that they thought the others thought of themselves as “something better” and didn’t think it necessary to talk to “less prestigious” institutions. Another told me that coming up with the funding to take students to bigger national conferences was really difficult and therefore did not happen at their place.

It seems that there are some factors which do not work in favor of the personal exchange of knowledge:

  • Geography: this might sound like a commonplace, but compared to Germany, it is really time-consuming to travel in the States. My entire country fits into Texas, but we have 82 million people living there; you can’t help interacting and meeting with other people.
  • Numbers: there is an incredible amount of Writing Centers and different programs in the States; I am not sure if anybody is actually keeping tabs on the exact numbers, but they must be overwhelming. Back home, I basically know every Writing Center director personally and I often know most of their team as well, including the tutors.
  • Travel: Germany has one of the best public transportation systems in the world. Our trains might not always be on time nowadays (in our eyes anyway), but you can travel fast and quite cheap, so meeting my colleague in Cologne means taking the train from Frankfurt’s Central Station and arriving there in one hour.
  • Finances: Because of the abysmal financial situation I mentioned above, everybody is always trying to find extra funding in Germany. Having a budget to go to conferences is on anybody’s wish list; and we love to take as many of our tutors as possible, sometimes more than half of them go with us. In the States, the system of having students pay (lots of) money creates a constant income for well-established institutions. The Title V initiative made it possible to establish new programs at some Writing Centers. We’re all faced with the challenge of making sure that the funding doesn’t run out, of course.

The impression I got from observing Writing Centers in the States was that everyone was very focused on creating programs that worked well for their institution. This seemed to work out wonderfully, in fact I was deeply impressed by how much the programs were connected to the specific needs of their participants and reflected the character of the institution. What was missing from my outsider’s perspective were the ties to other like-minded institutions with similar challenges. Like I already said: There are probably lots of things going on that I just didn’t or couldn’t see, but from what I could perceive there aren’t a lot of opportunities for tutors and (assistant) program directors for an exchange of knowledge and learning about another institution’s experience. My hopping from Writing Center to Writing Center caused some interesting situations that might illustrate why I decided to write about this in the first place: One person was convinced that their training of the Writing Fellows was especially challenging and thorough, and they were proud of having come up with this system. When I mentioned the fact that the training was done in the exact same way at other institutions, my interview partner seemed to be genuinely surprised. The person had also never heard of the cover sheets that are used at UW Madison to foster the reflection on the writing process and the communication of the writer with the Writing Fellow. The interviewee actually wrote that down on a piece of paper during our talk in order to look it up later. I sometimes felt like some medieval jester, traveling from court to court, bringing with me the latest tidings from other places.

Certain differences were to be expected, of course. There might have been a time (when the program was originally created and first spread across the continent) when there was a common understanding of the program’s guidelines and shared practices. But things didn’t stay this way: The program evolved and after a couple of decades, the relationship between the different versions might resemble the one between distant relatives: One recognized them vaguely at family meetings but didn’t care enough to sit down and find out about their way of living or state of health. Of course, I am totally over-exaggerating: It’s smart and economical to save your strength for your immediate survival and not waste energy on something that might not do much good or is at least seen as an expense with no immediate advantages.

Recently, I have been confronted with my own institution’s view on my activities: One of the leading figures at my university commented on me traveling around Germany and teaching other universities about the Writing Fellow program. She said that helping other institutions and promoting the program on the outside was “all well and nice,” but I should pay attention that the program was “working well on the inside.” I understand why she is saying these things, but I refuse to think about them as being opposites. One can do one thing and do another one as well. It is definitely more exhausting, but I think it is well worth it.

Why was I so impressed by the situation in the States which I perceived as slightly self-centered (pun intended)? I think one can assume that what I saw during my six week stay in the USA might be a possible image of our future in Germany. We are playing catch-up at the moment and I can already see that we are facing many of the challenges y’all (excuse my Southern drawl) were facing in the past and are facing today. What I saw in Madison has impressed me on a level that I am almost incapable to express: I saw so many signs that people can indeed function as centers of knowledge themselves. The Fellows are encouraged to do their own research and present it, even at big national conferences; the experienced members of staff get excellent positions at other institutions across the country. They not only take their personal expertise with them, but also a deeply ingrained habit of sharing knowledge with others. Their connection to the Writing Center of UW-Madison seems to stay strong which was exemplified by “The Map”; it prominently hangs in the Writing Center and shows all the places where former members of the team are now working.

The UW-Madison Writing Center and WAC Diaspora Map
The UW-Madison Writing Center and WAC Diaspora Map

Brad’s activities as an ambassador and counselor for the program and the Writing Center itself set the pace and the tone, of course. I sincerely hope that once the Writing Centers in Germany are established better we still cherish the bonds that have been tied when times were rougher. If we ever achieve a tenth of what Brad and his marvelous team are doing, we’re living the Humanist’s dream of creating a state where the bearers of knowledge form their own society that crosses the borders of institutions and even countries.

11 Replies to “A Game of Solitaire with Many Players: US Writing Centers from a German Perspective”

  1. Hi Stephanie, thanks for sharing this fascinating post! I especially enjoy your description of how knowledge travels within the Writing Center community in Germany, and how your visit to US Writing Centers revealed our relative lack of knowledge-travel. I was and wasn’t surprised by this. I wasn’t surprised because as a graduate student and assistant leader within the Writing Center, I view my goal as to figure out how this well-oiled machine works so that I can reproduce it elsewhere when my time comes. With that, I also know in theory that each writing program should fit the unique needs and expectations of each institution, so it makes sense to also learn about other Writing Centers and their unique institutional contexts. When I do learn about other Writing Centers, like during our Madison Area Writing Center Colloquia, at times I find it hard to relate because some institutional contexts are SO different than my own. What’s especially interesting to me, though, is how we find ways to maintain shared priorities across vastly different contexts, and I think that happens through the influence of scholarship and conferences. But yes, this country is so big and it is so time consuming to travel that sometimes it feels exhausting.

  2. Thanks so much for your rich post, Stephanie! It reminded me so much of the time I spent in the early 1990s to explore US writing centers across the country. With a post-doc scholarship from the German Research Society in my bank account, I was always able to travel and work comfortably. Unfortunately, when I published my studies in 1996 (Warum Schreiben? Schreiben in den USA / Why Wrtite? Writing in the US, Peter Lang), no one in Germany’s system of higher education really cared, except Andrea Frank and Gabriela Ruhmann who had just started to set up the first writing center at U Bielefeld. To this day, there seems a deep distrust among faculty in the disciplines against the facilitation of writing and writers outside their own territory. To me, it sometimes seems as if disciplinary faculty feels having to protect the academic discourse of their field against any kind of simplification coming from writing center people. “What do you actually know about our way of writing?”, one faculty member questioned the work of our writing center tutors recently. On the other hand, many things have changed to the better in things writing in Germany’s higher education. In 2001, when I started a writing center at the University of Education in Freiburg, a colleague urged me to stop treating students as illiterate since he understood writing workshops and tutoring writing as measures for people who can’t write. In other words: The role of writing in Germany’s colleges and universities is definitely changing. Writing is now seen by many in higher ed as a mode of learning and, therefore, as a key competence for a successful college career. Nevertheless, as I already said, we writing center people in Germany still need to find ways into the well-defended territories of disciplinary writing, The writing fellows approach is definitely one way to accomplish this since it brings together writing center people and faculty and students from the disciplines to make the changes in the role of writing in our institutions long-lasting.

  3. … to add one more thought about the differences you encountered between writing center work in the US and in Germany. At Emory University, where I taught in the German Studies Department for quite some years, I was a member of the college writing committee where we, faculty members from all disciplines, discussed about how to optimize the role of writing in learning and instruction. Among many other things, we accomplished a guideline for so-called writing intensive courses that were required to take during undergraduate studies. In other words: With the mandate of the Dean of Emory College, we ensured that academic writing wasn’t just used as a means of assessment (in exams and seminar papers) but truly as a mode of learning that requires a certain way of teaching, task design and even curriculum design within an academic discipline as a whole. This direct influence on academic writing in the disciplines, to me, seems still rather difficult to accomplish in Germany due to what people here call “freedom of teaching” and what I see as an old-fashioned bastion of the 19th century university. At Emory U, I experienced my colleagues most often very concerned about the success of the university at large, as an institution that wants to properly prepare students for a successful career and life. In Germany, the independent academic scholar who is often even poorly tied to his/her department, still seems to dominate the overall spirit of the university . No wonder, not too many of my colleagues care much about the writing center. I am really curious to see in the future how much this general problem can be challenged through the writing fellows approach.

  4. Dear Annika,
    thank you for your kind comment! I find your perspective truly interesting, because as an assistant director of the program, you are partly still ‘learning the ropes’, but you are also creating new knowledge and ties already and I found your work amazing.

    I think one solution to the problem of different surroundings and academic cultures lies in the research we do and share with others. However, what I could see at different places was that research didn’t play a big role, except for the writing fellows who do it as part of their training. There didn’t seem to be much research about the actual effects of the program on students’ writing and I was really surprised about that.

    I don’t know if this is standard practice, but sometimes the directors of such programs didn’t have a PhD and they didn’t plan on doing research either. Their function is ‘reduced’ to an administrative one and I can’t help thinking that this is a lost opportunity. Coming from a background that values research very much, I couldn’t help findning this deliberate ‘downgrading’ of positions rather unhelpful. I honestly think that doing research and sharing it with others is one of the best ways to make sure that everybody who is involved in Writing Center work is on the same (or at least a similar) page. As researchers, we discuss and ‘meet’ via papers and make our practices and findings known to others. In the States, you do have the advantage that you’re using the same language, so that makes reading the results of other institutions much easier than in Europe!

  5. My dear Gerd, thank you very much for your wonderful thoughts on the matter and sharing your experences with us. I really didn’t exaggerate when I wrote that you changed the writing pedagogy scene in Germany. The knowledge and concepts you brought back with you to Germany have given ‘the scene’ a tremendous push. I agree with many of the things you said and I disagree with some; but the latter might be because I am spoiled at my own institution. We almost never have to justify what we do and almost everybody seems to be happy about our work. But that might be because a) we are seen as researchers and therefore accepted as ‘one of the team’ and b) the disciplines don’t have to pay for us since we get our funding from a central source and external grants. Like in the US, I think it really depends on the character of the institution if a Writing Center is being embraced or eyed rather suspiciously.

    Right from the beginning, Writing Fellows have been called “ambassadors” of the Writing Center and I think that is a wonderful way of describing their effect. Teachers are able to observe from close-by what and how the Fellows work with students, how the non-directive approach works and which feedback methods we use and with what results. Forming a tight security net for the fellows is of the sessence, of course and I was deeply impressed how well this works in Madison where the tutors all have their personal mentor whom they can always turn to. I think I am rather optimistic when it comes to our common future in Germany (that saying albeit being one of the last bigger WCs which doesn’t have permanent positions for its directors!). From what I saw and heard at big conferences, the topic of writing, especially the notion of “writing to learn” seems to gather momentum in Germany right now. When connected to their discipline, most members of faculty and deans do see the advantage of using writing as a medium to delve deeper into specific disciplinary content. Writing intensive courses and writing fellows add to this movement that has now finally arrived in our country. Bielefeld is doing wonderful things right now with re-structuring the German literature curricula! So much is happening. I really hope we manage to keep our network strong and talk to each other about these developments. I think it’s the best way to thrive for all of us.

  6. Thank you for your thoughtful reflections on your visit to the United States, Stephanie!

    It’s fascinating to hear how other countries approach higher education and the teaching of writing. As a new writing center director at a state university in California, I have also noticed that it can be challenging to make connections with other writing centers in my region, especially because I gained all of my writing center and teaching experience in the midwest. It seems like one’s alumni network matters a lot — I’ve been leaning on my UW-Madison friends/writing center colleagues, contacting many of the wonderful people on the map above when I have a question or need some advice. It will take some work to forge those relationships here, in a new place.

    You mentioned keeping tabs on the number of programs and centers in the United States. The IWCA and the Write Place of St. Cloud State University put together an international and national directory of writing centers and their directors: http://web.stcloudstate.edu/writeplace/wcd/Index.html. It doesn’t include every university, but the list is a helpful place to start.

  7. Thank you for your great post, Stephanie, that reminded me of the wonderful time I had in Madison and the US in 2011/12.

    I agree with Gerd that it is sometimes very hard to gain allies among faculty teachers in Germany. At our university it took us about eight years to gain so many that we now seem to have kind of a critical mass of writing center supporters inside our institution. And especially because it can be so hard to get legitimacy inside the own institution, it is so important to have networks with other writing centers. They can be a lifeline in times of difficulties and they spend power, joy and ideas in good times, too. I experienced this also in the USA, but maybe this feeling is very strong in Germany, because we experience an exciting time of departure at the moment. I am very grateful to be part of this.
    Currently, it feels pleasing that we could start a map like the one in Madison in our writing center, because three alumni already started to open writing centers at other places in Germany. This feels like a great achievement and it must feel like this even more for the first pioneers of writing center work in Germany, like Gerd Bräuer, Andrea Frank or Gabi Ruhmann, who had to be lone fighters for so many years.

    With regard to the writing fellow programs I can only support the impression that they are ambassadors. They are incredible valuable door openers to both, faculty teachers and to students who might have never come to the writing center.

  8. Thanks so much, Stephanie, for writing such a thoughtful and thought-provoking post! And thanks so much to you and Anja and Franziska and Simone for visiting in September and October–it was great to have you here, just as it was to have Katrin here in 2011-12.

    Given this discussion about writing fellows as ambassadors, including Katrin’s comment, I wanted to recommend to everyone a wonderful article by our colleagues and friends at the University of Iowa’s Writing Center:

    Severino, Carol, and Megan Knight. “Exporting Writing Center Pedagogy: Writing Fellows Programs as Ambassadors for the Writing Center.” _Marginal Words, Marginal Work: Tutoring the Academy in the Work of Writing Centers._ Ed. William J. Macauley, Jr., and Nicholas Mauriello. Cresskill, NJ: Hampton P, 2007. 19-33. Print.

    That’s of course just one of many publications–applied, theoretical, and research publications–about writing fellows, written by colleagues around the US and by various colleagues here at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

    Thanks for sparking this discussion!

    Brad Hughes
    Director, The Writing Center
    Director, Writing Across the Curriculum
    The University of Wisconsin-Madison

  9. Thanks for your thoughtful post, Stephanie! It’s interesting to hear your perspective on the writing center scene in the US. Your family metaphor resonates–I do feel “related” to people at other writing centers, but there isn’t the kind of impetus to collaborate that I’ve seen in Germany. We take for granted in the US that we can get together with other writing centers if some family emergency comes up, knowing that there are lots of “relatives” who can be called up on if needed.

    I wonder if we’re at a moment like that now, with declining numbers of students in the humanities and decreasing public funding for higher education. The National Census of Writing, the Writing Centers Research Project, and the push for aggregable research might be our nascent move to have something like a family reunion that everyone can attend.

  10. Gerd mentioning writing intensive courses reminded me of a conversation I recently had with someone from the teaching faculty at Goethe U: He shared the initial fear he held prior to teaching a course assisted by Writing Fellows, that the changes to his teaching triggered by the program would come at the price of a significant increase in his own obligations and workload. Although he admitted that at first he had to adapt here and there – which indeed did cause him some extra effort – he also said that once he was back to teaching without the support of a Writing Fellow in the next semester, he stuck to the changes he had made and tried to compensate for the missing Writing Fellow by inviting his students to a more collaborative learning culture relying more heavily on both writing and text feedback procedures. It really blew my mind: in this particular case, one single semester of teaching with Writing Fellows succeeded in exerting this “direct influence on writing in the discipline” that Gerd mentioned. Quite likely, such stories of success do indeed depend on a teacher’s age, socialization, and perceived degree of affiliation with her or his own institution and/or the respective academic field at large.

    When I read Stephanie’s words on the increasing momentum of Writing to Learn in Germany, my heart heaved a sigh of relief and I truly hope, Stephanie, your words travel straight from your lips to god’s ears (may the skeptic in you pardon the diction). Somehow it seems perfectly reasonable: writing should be connected to the discipline, yes; if counseling and tutoring focus on students’ texts in an equally decisive manner, in order to help students harness all their potentials in the attempt to get their intended meaning across as best as they can, both the discipline-specific discourse and students’ writing (and thinking) competencies will benefit.

    The road ahead is rich in learning opportunities for everybody involved. Or as Emerson would have it: “This time, like all times, is a very good one, if we but know what to do with it.”

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