Writing Center Coordinator John Taylor discusses goals for the Writing Center
“To write is not simply to record thought; to write is to think,” said John Taylor, Writing Center Coordinator. Below he shares his goals for the Writing Center, and discusses the impact of writing.
Q: Describe your role as Writing Center Coordinator. What do you do and when did you start this new role?
John Taylor: I began my role as the Writing Center Coordinator this past August, and since then I’ve been preparing the Writing Center to meet our many varied student needs. I recently moved from Boston, MA, where I completed a M.F.A. in poetry, worked in the writing center, and taught in the First Year Writing Program, all at Emerson College. I’ve worked in writing centers since 2010, and I am very excited to bring my passion for this work to UM-Dearborn. My goal is to prepare and train our undergraduate consultants to be creative, adaptive, and resilient writing tutors in a demanding intellectual and interpersonal space. Writing center work is challenging; it’s my job to make sure our consultants are equipped and supported for the valuable service they provide UM-Dearborn students.
Q: Approximately how many students visit the Writing Center each semester?
JT: Each semester we see an average of 400 unique students in the Writing Center for an average of 900 appointments. The center primarily draws first year students, students with English as a first or home language, and students from CASL majors. As we move forward, we hope to create a culture in the center and on campus that makes collaborative writing a natural part of the writing process. The Writing Center is a service built to serve the entire UM-Dearborn student population, and we are actively reaching out across campus to be a writing center for all students, regardless of home language or major.
Q: How do you plan to use your role to expand and enhance the presence of the Writing Center (and its services/events) on campus?
JT: Increasing the Writing Center’s visibility on campus is certainly a priority. We’ve reached many students through brief classroom presentations to courses across the disciplines, in which we describe the Writing Center’s services and how students can make an appointment. I also work directly with faculty to prepare the writing consultants for specific assignments and projects in advance of students visiting the center. Lastly, we are taking initiative to rebrand and update our website, social media, flyers, and posters. We want to demonstrate that the Writing Center is a lively, creative space on campus, not static or remedial.
Q: Why do you believe writing is essential in academics and in life?
JT: To write is not simply to record thought; to write is to think. To revise is to reimagine. To compose is to create. I believe we often hold an overly simplistic view of writing and its purpose in daily life or in the classroom. At the same time, our current political climate demonstrates to us more than ever the power inherent in writing, in rhetoric, in marketing, in propaganda. The ability to communicate and reason clearly through writing, to feel liberated and empowered to speak, is vitally important, especially for people experiencing hostile rhetoric (and policy) from those who believe that Americans should look and speak just one way. The Writing Center is deeply opposed to this essentialism, and we’re committed to strengthening writers from all backgrounds, languages, and abilities.
Interview Conducted and Compiled by Leah Olajide