Vol. 1, No. 1 (Winter 2020)
Sarah King, Director, University of Toronto, Scarborough Campus Writing Centre
It is my great pleasure, as President of the Canadian Writing Centres Association/L’Association des centres canadiennes de rédaction (CWCA/ACCR), to welcome the arrival of the CWCR/RCCR blog onto the Canadian writing centre scene.
Writing centres are deeply rooted in anglo-Canada, and their form and context is very different from those in the United States. CWCA/ACCR members Michael Kaler and Tyler Evans-Tokaryk’s (University of Toronto) recent (2019) CJSDW/r article lays out the history and unique features of the writing studies scene in Canada, picking up on the work of Margaret Proctor as well as of Heather and Roger Graves to observe that in Canadian universities, “writing centres are often responsible for the design and delivery of much of the writing instruction…whether it is offered through face-to-face appointments, workshops, online resources, or a WAC program” (108). They emphasize not only the central role of writing centres in teaching writing in Canada, but the diversity of our mandates, roles, and institutional locations. And these differences continue beyond large, faculty-lead universities, to writing centres in community colleges, and public and private high schools.
To support this wide range of centres, we need a publication where writing centre is spelled -re, a space for written discussion of the theories, pedagogies, and politics of writing centres in Canada. We need to learn more about one another and ourselves—in the words of the blog mission, we need a space to “facilitate collective storytelling about Canadian sites of writing tutoring and mentorship.”
From my perspective as President of CWCA/ACCR, the timing of the CWCR/RCCR is perfect. CWCA/ACCR started a two-year strategic planning exercise, with the goal of better understanding the needs and interests of Canadian writing centre professionals, graduate and undergraduate tutors, so we can plot our course as an association.
Personally, I am excited about the blog format. We are still a small enough community that we can be personal. While the CWCA/ACCR conference has grown, we all fit in one lecture hall, and we can all go for a preconference dinner at a restaurant—no hotel ballroom needed. CJSDW/r offers all of us in Canadian writing centres an excellent venue for formal articles. CWCR/RCCR creates another venue, a place to share and even test ideas, projects, histories, and theories before they are fully formal, before or after a workshop at the conference, and to write in a mode that is both scholarly and personal.
As writing centre professionals and practitioners, we work with writers on a daily basis, offering feedback and advice. Yes, talk about writing is vital to writing centres. But so is writing, and it is all-too-easy to avoid the messy, challenging, excruciating, and exhilarating business of writing ourselves. I know you have a story to share about an initiative from your centre, a teaching or administrative challenge met. I know you have been waiting for a reason to spend some time with the relevant research literature. Particularly if you have not recently written or published scholarly work, I encourage you to take up your pen, your stylus, your keyboard of choice. And then, at whatever stage in the writing process you find it most valuable, go into your writing centre, find a tutor, and sit, for once, in the writer’s chair.
I look forward to reading you very soon.
Kaler, M., and Evans-Tokaryk, T. (2019). Reflecting on Assessment: Strategies and tools for measuring the impact of a Canadian WAC program. Canadian Journal for Studies in Discourse and Writing 29. pp. 107-132.