Ten students from
Oberlin High School recently gathered in the studios of WOBC-FM
and gave their views on what it's like to be a teen in Oberlin.
They read from a collection
of essays created this summer under the tutelage of Oberlin College
graduates Mara Brecht '04 and Alyson Dame '04
and senior Avi Klein.
The group met three times a week for six weeks, and the experience
was as much an education for the Obies as it was for the OHS students.
"Tutoring is like being on the other side of learning, except I realized that I am a part of the learning too,"
says Brecht. "More than anything, tutoring provides me with an opportunity to think about the way learning is
mapped out conceptually. When I tutor and help others think and write and construct, I have to consider the
direction the student needs to move in, and at what speed. I have to realize when the path we're
taking is not working. I have to think about the process of an academic
venture in a more accurate way."
"Teaching writing forces you to sharpen your own writing skills," adds Klein. "You
can't really teach writing until you really understand it. Also, trying to help
someone to learn while you're still a student forces you
to question yourself as a learner. I've become more aware of my own
academic problems, which is humbling, but it has motivated me to work harder."
The course, titled English Composition: Writing about Popular Culture,
was developed by Anne Trubek, with the assistance of the Nord Family
Foundation, as part of the Community-Based Writing Program at the
College. The course is intended for OHS students interested in improving
their reading and writing skills, says Trubek, associate professor
of rhetoric, composition and English, but it also benefits the tutors
"Many of the tutors want to become teachers, and this provides invaluable
experience," she says. "Students from
the College served as writing assistants in English classes at the
high school during the last two years. The summer course—the
result of our desire to expand our presence at OHS and to cross the
founded upon the beliefs that individualized writing instruction
is crucial to students' educational success and that writing
is a powerful tool for communication and self-expression."
In addition to reading their work on the air, the OHS students
concluded their summer study by submitting their writing portfolios to
the Oberlin High School English department. Successful portfolios will
receive a half-credit in English composition.