Monday, April 23, 2007

we're meerkats

Here at Pittsburg State University we've adopted the meerkat as our unofficial mascot.


Because while individually we might not look very powerful, collectively we appear anonymous and imposing.

Yet, as with meerkats, when you look beyond anonymity and search within our community of tutors you can readily recognize individuals with idiosyncrasies, talents, faults, foibles and--let's face it: personality. When you look behind the meerkat-decorated badge, Dustin is different from Alicia is different from Wei-chieh is different from Audra is different from Krista is different from Nikki is different from David is different from Lin-ta is different from Adriane is different from Somdatta is different from Max is different from Gabriela is different from Stacy is different from Janelle is different from me.

In this way, The Writing Center and its tutors reflect and echo its Director, who--while embracing its bifurcated goal--focuses primarily on one prong of its two-tined mission. Where on the one goal we serve the Pittsburg State academic community, on the other, for nine of our tutors in the Spring of 2007, we serve as a preprofessional laboratory experience for BSE English majors and minors.

In keeping with our meerkat image, as a writing center director and instructor of language arts/English methodology who honed his craft for a half-dozen years in a bad-boy hood of Houston, Texas, I believe that personality is one of the two most important tools one can take into a middle or secondary school language arts or English classroom; the other is knowledge of subject matter. Thus, we meerkats welcome opportunities to work with writers worried about fundamental aspects (APA and MLA format, invention, organization, Standard Academic American English) of composition; it's valuable experience for those of us who desire to teach grades 6--12.

This is not to say that we exclude anyone from our community. Our tutors have fan clubs composed of members struggling with theses, sermons, reports, dissertations and essays to be submitted for conferences or publication. These fans range from freshmen to deans, some of whom demonstrate their appreciation with praise and cookies.

We like them all.

As always, I listen forward to hearing from you.

Until then, I hope this finds you and yours in good health and spirits.

John Franklin