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No, I won't write your paper for you

No one expects the President of the United States to write his own speeches. He wants to get re-elected, so he uses the services of a ghost writer. Undoubtedly the President has some input, but the speech is still ghost written. Similarly, a student who wants to pass a class with a high grade, sometimes wants to hire the services of a tutor, one who may be short of money and is willing to be a ghost writer.

When a student asks me to write his paper for him, I think about what he really needs, not the short term goals of a grade but the long term goal of mastery: the student is in a process of learning, and what will serve the learning most is for him to practice, to receive coaching, and to feel for himself the joy of accomplishment. Next time, or twenty times later, the student will be able to write independently, with satisfaction of a skill learned.

Ideally, the student and teacher meet, at least a couple of times, to discuss the assignment, brainstorm ideas for it, get some sense of thesis, and together make a rough outline. The tutor asks a lot of questions, and they begin to get some sentences going. The tutor explains why he is suggesting a certain approach or tone or organization. Then the student writes a draft, using all that. Then together, they edit the draft, with as much teaching as rewriting. This process is not a one-shot, last minute deal, but it is part of a longer tutoring series, covering a number of assignments.

Getting a good grade is secondary to the student’s learning how to write on his or her own. Tutoring towards such independence has more integrity than the quick fix of a ghost written paper.

Comments

Thanks for your comment, Kimberly. Integrity is indeed the bottom line. I am in this lifetime learning as I go, and I cannot claim to always act with integrity. Yet I seek integrity, and I believe I am coming closer to being in integrity. I don't believe in a black and white morality. It's not like an absolute wrong and an absolute right; there are circumstances. Being a tutor with WyzAnt has been a learning experience for me. I was so excited to get my first few students that I did not see the agenda of one or two of them before I was too far into it. Those few students wanted a paper that would get a good grade, whether it really "earned" a good grade or not. And I was desperate for cash. Now I see more the limits of what I am willing and not willing to do for a student. My writing of the blog helped me to clarify it for myself, and hopefully for others as well. Most of my students are wanting to learn to use English correctly; most of them are wonderful in integrity, and I am so grateful for them.