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Tutor profile: Russell P.

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Russell P.
English/Drama Teacher for Twelve Years
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Questions

Subject: Writing

TutorMe
Question:

What is the point of studying Writing in such a formal way? If I can already put my thoughts down, why do I need to know how to to do more than that?

Inactive
Russell P.
Answer:

Clarity, clarity, clarity would be my knee-jerk response. By studying Writing in a formal way, you are given a chance to try many different forms of Writing, giving attention to each form and the various assumptions, mores, and traditions that readers associate with the forms. Your job as the writer is to know and understand those limitations and to then work within them to transmit your message as clearly and as directly as you possibly can. Formal instruction can give you the safe space within which you try to understand those forms, and practice mastering them - and even if those forms are never presented to you in your day-to-day life, practicing saying what you mean to say and writing how you talk in a formal setting will only strengthen your ability as a writer.

Subject: Literature

TutorMe
Question:

Are all the features of this short story/novel/play that you're telling us to analyze really what the author meant? Is the green light really representing what you say?

Inactive
Russell P.
Answer:

Truth is: yes-and-no. Analysis of literature is an act of interpretation, and you bring as much of your own baggage into it as the author did when writing. Seeking authorial intent is possible - usually involving research - but a text tells you how to read it, how to interpret it; and it's conscious, engaged readers who are going to know how to engage with, and unpack, a text resulting in a successful analysis. Our job in the study of Literature is to allow you to practice *how* to go through that practice - of analyzing the elements of literature, breaking them apart, and achieving a deeper understanding of the work.

Subject: English

TutorMe
Question:

Why do I have to learn English if I already know how to speak it?

Inactive
Russell P.
Answer:

Part of the point of explicit instruction in the English classroom has everything to do with refining and honing your understanding of what you already know instinctively. You've grown up learning the language through trial-and-error, so instruction in this subject would be to prepare you with the principles that govern that unconscious absorption of the language. Another way of putting it: you *know* the language, now it's time to know what you know, and why you know it. Let's take the unconscious choices you make with the language and make it conscious.

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