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Erec S Smith

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Writing Under the Bodhi Tree
by Erec S Smith   
Not "rated" by the Author.
Last edited: Friday, February 26, 2010
Posted: Friday, February 26, 2010

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Erec S Smith

“The Lotus Sutra as Rhetorical Doctrine”
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Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh's "Charter of Interbeing" provides an interesting model for the teaching of writing; through his Buddhist philosophy, one can interpret a college writing center as a religious community.

Buddhist Philosophy provides a fitting set of guidelines for writing center pedagogy and inspiration. Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh's "Charter of Interbeing" supports the importance of rhetoric, kairos and audience consideration, in general. Also, it provides a model, through its concept of "sangha" (community), for a writing center environment conducive to student support. Hanh's "Charter" provides a holistic foundation for novice and veteran writing consultants on which all theories and practices of writing tutorials can rest.

There have been many theories of peer writing assistance that attempt to give us the proper outlook on how to conceptualize and actualize a writing center session. What's more, many of these theories provide imperatives that every writing consultant should know before entering a writing center. However, these theories only provide part of the overall ideology necessary to promote the utmost productivity in a writing center setting. In addition, these fractions of the theoretical tutoring experience have been relayed in ways unnecessarily dense for undergraduate writing consultants trying to simultaneously assuage the anxiety of tutoring and provide the best service for their student writers. We are in need of a more comprehensive, yet accessible, theory.

Ironically, I've found such a theory while taking a break from writing center research and pedagogy. Even stranger, this theory is couched in the fundamentals of Buddhist philosophy. One day, while indulging the leisure-reader in me, I picked up Thich Nhat Hanh's Interbeing: Fourteen Guidelines for Engaged Buddhism. However, it wasn't long before I noticed something that resonated with the writing center director in me. This innocent looking book, written by a Buddhist monk that I'd taken interest in out of pure curiosity, had provided the comprehensive theory every student writing consultant should read before stepping into a writing center. Thich Nhat Hanh's "Charter of Interbeing" is the perfect credo for writing center theory and practice.

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