Wednesday, January 09, 2008

about a tree and its fruit

Today I decided to warm up for a legal writing grading session by reading a journal article called "Building Credibility in the Margins: An Ethos-Based Perspective for Commenting on Student Papers." As I started in on the article, I reflected briefly that one of my HCom professors last semester specialized in ethos, and that this article was right up his alley.

A few pages in, I glanced down at a footnote and realized that my HCom 200 professor is apparently an eminent expert in the field, as numerous of his works were cited in footnote after footnote.

That was impressive, to stumble upon my HCom professor unexpectedly in a legal journal. He apparently does have a lot to say about credibility, as he often assured us.

The only problem is that both privately and openly (in professor evaluations), I rated him the least credible (read: apparently knowledgeable and academically trustworthy) professor of my university experience.

He did follow the same advice he's cited as giving in this journal article:
"Teachers should attempt to . . . make more explicit caring statements to their students . . . teachers will be perceived as more credible."
I would certainly trust him to feed my dog while I was on vacation, to listen patiently to a long drawn-out story about my feelings, and to safeguard my valuables. But I never trusted him to give a straight and thorough answer to an academic question, or to give an explanation for a concept that went above and beyond the offerings of the textbook.

So, all you students out there, sorry if I don't meet up to HCom's latest standards of credibility. I will do my best to live up to the concept the way Aristotle defined it. I will do my homework, answer your questions, and try to give helpful comments in the margin. I care about your success and will strive to give clear explanations and craft fair policies.

I will not feed your dog, be your own personal Dr. Phil, or safeguard your valuables.


1 comment:

Daniel Jackson said...

Isn't it ironic that another aspect of credible has basically the same meaning as gullible?
Thus, "Teachers [who] make more explicit caring statements to their students . . . will be perceived as more credible" takes on an entirely new meaning...