The Place Where Theory and Practice Meet: Flexibility within a Writing Consultant
This paper attempts to make the theoretical demands of writing center gurus Steven North and Muriel Harris more accessible to novice writing consultants, ie, me. I felt like focusing on right or wrong methods in writing consulting was quite pointless, as methods can change and vary, but as long as they uphold the principles, is it ok? The main question I was attempting to answer was: To what extent do differences in consultees affect one writing center consultant's basic principles of consulting, as visible as [his methods] in three sessions? Even with varying methods, is the writing consultant still adhering to the same principles?
Through studying one experienced, thoughtful writing consultant, I wanted to see by what principles does this consultant abide, AND how flexibility acts within three sessions. First, I found that both Harris and North upheld four principles: one, consultations should be student centered; two, consultations should be collaborative; third, they should be flexible; and fourth, writing consultations should focus on the process of writing, and not the product. I then looked at Jack* (name changed), and found that he did indeed uphold all of these principles in his work, but first, focused on upholding the student as a person trying to become. I also found that Jack acted in directive ways, and gave sentence-level help. Though these methods may appear non-collaborative, etc, it is not. In these sessions that these methods were utilized, the student needed the help. Thus, Jack was acting on a hierarchy of principles, focusing first on the student's needs and then acting out with flexibility. Writing consultancy is about meeting the student's needs...and adapting the principles through flexibility.