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Linguistic Justice Education

Linguistic Justice acknowledges that ALL languages and language forms are beautiful and valuable.

Lingusitic Justice - Writing Center - Western Tech Learning Commons

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Q.  In light of this new knowledge we asked, "Are our current writing practices helping or hurting students?"

A.  Requiring people to share their experiences or speak their truth, but if only do it the right way, actually silences them and ignores their identity. It's like saying the  real "you" isn't good enough uness "you" express yourself the right way -- or the white way.  -- Michael Reynolds (Western Tech student)

A.  When a person of color hands you an idea, an article, or a story, don't edit it it to sound like you. Do not whitewash our words to appeal to just one type of demographic. Make space for and amplify all of our voices. Let go of your gatekeeping keys and let us in. Don't erase my fellow BIPOC and don't erase me." - Yolie Contreras (writer)

Editing should help you realize and refine your voice, not erase it.

It seems clear that so long as we do not challenge the “linguistic status quo”--we cannot

claim to be trauma-informed in our Writing Center.


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Practices and Commitments: Writing Center (Learning Commons)

In-Person (Individual) Feedback

  • We ask LOTS of questions–we often spend more time listening than talking

  • We study the assignment together–we help the student understand the instructor’s expectations 

  • We reflect on their writing together–we help the student determine how their work aligns to expectations

  • We avoid using judgment and pointing out “mistakes”

  • We work hard to avoid positioning  ourselves as “writing experts”--instead,  we view the student as the expert on their own writing

  • We operate from a mindset of humility and curiosity–we ask questions rather than telling students what they should or shouldn’t do

  • We offer observations rather than directives–we phrase feedback as an “invitation” to revise

  • We help students critically reflect on their writing and we empower them to make choices about their own writing

Written Feedback

  • Our ultimate goal is to empower students to strengthen and refine their writing skills—not just “fix” one assignment 

  • Help the student recognize the strengths of their writing--always try to insert multiple positive comments!—these positives can be on ANY aspect of the assignment 

  • Point out areas of concern in the student’s writing or areas where the writing could be strengthened 

  • Obviously, we want to help the student produce higher quality work—that the student is proud of—and that earns them a higher grade—but we want this higher grade to be a reflection of the student’s effort, growth, and choice 

  • Try to critique the writing rather than the writer  (i.e. “you seem to have lost focus in this paragraph” vs. “it is a little unclear how this paragraph supports your thesis--how could you make that connection stronger for your reader?”) 

  • As much as possible, avoid comments that come across as if we are the “experts” 

  • Avoid “I” and “you” statements that come across as too directive (“I think you should…” “I’d like to see you…” “You should…”) 

  • Keep comments more “reflective” and less “corrective” 

  • The best feedback leads the writer to an “awakening”—where THEY realize and implement changes based on this new perspective

  • Ideally, we help the student improve their writing skills and build confidence that they apply to this and all future assignments  

Classroom Teaching

  • Revise language on our  Powerpoints and Presentations to avoid use of  the words, “standard” “proper” “correct” etc.
  • Emphasize that APA, business writing, medical/scientific writing, etc. are STYLES–not Standards
  • Emphasize that these styles are not “better” “best” or “ideal”
  • Teach these styles as mere TOOLS—tools that students can then use as THEY see fit based on the rhetorical situation
  • Emphasize the students' purposeful application of the tools over the minutiae of punctuation, citations, etc.
  • Provide more opportunities for students to use OTHER styles and “tools”
  • Allow students to make CHOICES without punishment
  • Grammar and “white middle class English” (WMCE) are not inherently racist…just a set of rules…but when we “weaponize” our application of WMCE it becomes racist/discriminatory (Inoue, 2017)
  • Never assume that students know the rules (white privilege)

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