- Slides: 10
PERSONAL NARRATIVES IN THE WRITING CENTER Presentation by: Noelle Lucien
QUINN’S ANECDOTE • Details how the incorrect interpretation of a client’s personal narrative lead to an extreme response which left a lasting impression… • Have you ever had a moment in the Writing Center where you felt as if you incorrectly interpreted a client’s idea? Have you felt as if you’ve filled in personal blanks rather than allowing them to do it themselves and attempted to incorporate those projections into your session? How did you handle this?
RELATIONS OF POWER IN THE WC • “I tried to push a specific interpretation on this student’s experience, although it was clearly not the interpretation that rang true to her” (Quinn 26) • Position of Power greatly affects the work of others • Risky when dealing with personal narratives • Be mindful of not assigning our own meaning to stories
WHAT IS A GOOD PERSONAL NARRATIVE? • A good personal narrative is “an individual’s thoughtful, unhurried reflection on certain experiences that seem to have an interesting significance, ” not just a description of events (Quinn 27). • What do we think of this description? Is there anything you would add to it or take out?
UNCOVERING THE INTERESTING SIGNIFICANCE • ”It is important for us as tutors to help students uncover what the ‘interesting significance’ of their experience is” (Quinn 27) • Only then will they truly benefit from the assignment and gain new selfunderstanding • Pushing own interpretations become problematic • Do we agree with this interpretation? • How do we handle and dismantle this power structure?
HOW DO WE APPROACH PERSONAL NARRATIVES • ”Equality based discussion” = the Collaborative approach • Highlight a moment where you were able to use the collaborative approach to help a student find/assign meanings to their personal narratives • Ex. Jennifer Sinor on personal narratives • Spends 90% of the time exploring the topic verbally with her client and then 10% of the time actually outlining a structure • Why do you think this method is more helpful than a more directive approach?
SO, WHAT ARE THEY TRYING TO SAY? • Our role as tutors is to figure out what they are trying to say rather than tell them what we think they should say. • How do we balance this natural urge to tell client’s what we think they should say over letting them say what they want to say? • What is one way you ensure to leave personal biases out of the way?
TIME LIMITATIONS • Time is a limitation in sessions • Can sometimes pressure tutors to quickly achieve results • Detrimental to a process which requires long thinking • What limitations/problems does the time limit present for you? Or, do you not feel this pressure at all?
HOW TO AVOID SURFACE-LEVEL INTERPRETATIONS • It can be tempting to allow students to fall back on surface level interpretations, but, it’s our job to push them away from the easier answer • We can do this by asking questions and not giving answers
VIEW STUDENT WRITING AS SACRED TEXTS • “It is a privilege to be admitted into student’s lives. By keeping that in mind, we can help them gain valuable insights into their pasts and develop skills of analysis and self-expression that will serve them well into their futures” (Quinn 29).