This is a later reflection on what, for me, was a paradigm changing experience in working on a MA thesis.
Long before I studied postmodern literary theory, my undergraduate writing center partners taught me the value of the small personal stories in creating writing that has depth, powerful impact and demonstrates unique critical analysis. This is writing that also allows the individual to uniquely establish their own identity within the English language, and academic genre. In recognizing this, I found that unquestioning belief in the metanarratives of writing center philosophy did not always serve me best in my lived experience with writing center partners. I found that there are advantages in being small, in the ability to be “agile and flexible” to consider new ways of being a writing center or tutor, or student, scholar or professor.
A single individual, if proactive, flexible, student focused and willing to step outside of the proscribed teaching box, might find unique ways to improve outcomes for all students. Autoethnograpghy, used as a research methodology in my thesis, reminded me that the student partners were already intuitively doing autoethography. For these students, and now for me, this approach created deeper engagement, and the desire to go well beyond the minimum in research and led to naturally reaching back outwards to connect my own experiences with the much larger worlds of writing theory and research on teaching methodologies. The results reinforced the importance of writing in how we create, and recreate, our identities within different arenas and how in doing so, we, and our students can become forces for positive change.