What is the Facilitative Approach?
Facilitative remarks avoid telling a writer what to do - Change this; rearrange that. Instead, they raise questions that are carefully crafted so that they encourage a writer to consider her ideas and their expression more fully. These questions might be general - for example, Where is your thesis sentence? More often, however, they are specific, addressing a weakness in very particular terms. For example:
- Your introduction talks in general terms about the strengths and weaknesses of various presidents; you conclude the paragraph by announcing that your paper will consider Bush and his presidency. However, you don't declare the terms of your discussion. What do you plan to argue about Bush's strengths and weaknesses as president?
Facilitative remarks are not always phrased as questions. Very often, a declarative sentence can be facilitative in that it challenges a writer, asking her to reconsider some aspect of her paper. For example:
- I'm not following the connection you seem to be making between presidential privilege and the downfall of the American political system.
You might also find facilitative remarks taking the form of suggestions. Note the plural noun: if you make one suggestion, the writer may follow it without thinking; if you make several, he must consider them all and choose from them - or come up with an alternative.
It's important to understand that while the facilitative response is in spirit very different from the directive, its aim is to lead writers to a desired end. Indeed, the facilitative approach involves asking what one might call the "leading question." In other words, simply asking questions of a writer doesn't do the trick. These questions need to be propelled by a plan. (See Example: Facilitative Commentary.)
Still, you should proceed cautiously when asking leading questions: be happy to lead, but be just as happy to follow when the writer takes off in a new direction. Be prepared to think on your feet, and to come up with new strategies to facilitate any fresh, exciting turn in the writer's process.