Skip to content


“Our job is to produce better writers, not better writing.”
—Stephen M. North, “The Idea of a Writing Center” (1984)

The Writing Center: Mission and Philosophy

At Pomona, writing and the teaching of writing are college-wide enterprises. The Writing Center communicates the centrality of writing to the liberal arts experience to students by providing a community of experienced readers and writers to all Pomona students.

The most appropriate role for the Writing Partner is therefore that of a more experienced fellow writer. You are a tutor, listener, mentor, and guide to the students you work with. This role allows you to claim your expertise, but also gives the students responsibility for their own writing. You should bring respect, energy, curiosity, empathy, tact, flexibility, and a sense of humor to your meetings with students.

Process theory and pedagogy are central to the Writing Center. A process approach is one that sees writing as a recursive act, where generating writing and then revising is more productive than trying to get it “perfect” the first time. Our goal is to move students away from writing based on prescribed forms and rules and toward an understanding of writing as a process. In your Writing Center consultations, a guiding theme will be that writing is indeed hard work.

You should regard each piece of writing that a student brings to the Writing Center as part of her ongoing developing as a writer. This perspective provides an important balance to the focus on final products (and grades) that many students bring to the consultation. Regardless of why a student comes to the Writing Center, or how strong or weak her writing, we hope to help all students learn at least two things:

  • that the writing process goes hand in hand with—indeed, enables—critical thinking
  • how to talk about writing, particularly their own writing

There are other objectives Partners also try to meet in their consultations at the Writing Center. Partners help students to:

  • become invested in their writing
  • consider criticism thoughtfully, but not take it personally
  • recognize how they tend to write—and how they might make both their writing process and their style more effective
  • realize that, just as there is not always one answer to a question, there is not one writing technique, or one way to write an essay or paper, that will always work
  • be patient in working out insights that cannot be articulated easily
  • persist until a piece of writing is as good as it possibly can be (or, as good as it possibly can be within their time constraints)

You need not necessarily discuss these objectives explicitly with students. However, if you understand these objectives and their value in helping students learn to write well, they will inform the way you interact with a student and the criticism and suggestions you offer.