Thursday, April 10, 2008

Remember "Pick the prof?"

Readers Note: Yesterday I posted concerning an outstanding Chronicle column by Duke senior Adam Zell. ( What will Duke's trustees do? 4/8/08 )

Commenter Duke Law '72 responded asking rhetorically whether I'd noticed that Duke students are often better writers than the professors.

Well, yes, I had.

The comment also reminded me of an occasional series I used to run: "Pick the prof."

Below the star line is the Oct. 1, 2006 "Pick the prof" post. At the time the now disbarred Nifong was on his way to an election victory the next month. And not until late December would Duke President Richard ("We had no way of knowing") Brodhead finally say his first critical words about Nifong and the frame-up attempt.



Below are portions from essays in two current publications. One is by a Professor of English, who occupies an endowed chair at Duke University. The other is by a Duke undergraduate.

Decide which portion you think is by the professor and which by the student.

Once you’ve made your choices, I’ll ask why you made them. Then I’ll tell you what the reasons for your choices reveal about you.

You may learn things about yourself you’ve never known. There’s no charge for the information. It’s just one of many free benefits you receive for visiting JinC.

Now, let’s begin.

Portion 1

Until we recognize that sports reinforces exactly those behaviors of entitlement which have been and can be so abusive to women and girls and those "othered" by their sports' history of membership, the bodies who will bear evidence and consequence of the field's conduct will remain, after the fact of the matter, laboring to retrieve the lofty goals of education, to elevate the character of the place, to restore a space where they can do the work they came to the university to accomplish.
Portion 2:
All of our coaches have been college students and, in most cases, student-athletes. Although many professors may not have played sports, it is important to understand and respect what kind of impact athletics has on Duke University, its culture and its students, athletes and non-athletes alike.

Duke is unique not only because of its innovation in the laboratories or the lecture halls. Duke gains its sense of community and culture from the fact that it combines a first-rate academic curriculum with an incredibly successful athletic department, and this is what the students rally behind. Without athletics, Duke would still be great, but not complete. The combination of elite academics and athletics creates a strong feeling of community and school spirit. My former teammate called it "Blue Devil magic." To me, this is what sets Duke apart, and what has attracted many, if not most, of its students.
Portion 1 was written by Duke University’s William R. Kenan Professor of English Dr. Karla Holloway.

In addition to her regular departmental duties, Professor Holloway is arguably one of the more gifted and talented members of Duke’s Arts & Science faculty’s “Group of 88,” a kind of “informal think tank” whose members Duke’s President Richard Brodhead and his board of trustee supporters often turn to for guidance.

Did you pick Portion 1 as “by the Prof” because you said, “This is great?”

If you did, JinC profile analysis reveals you may be either a Group of 88 member yourself or a self-identified “strongly committed” Nifong voter. You admire Sen. Ted Kennedy (D- MA) for “his strong stands on women’s rights” and film-maker Michael Moore for “just being out there.” You tell friends: “I don’t understand why everyone keeps saying all those things about Brodhead. He’s wonderful.”

Or did you pick Portion 1 as “by the Prof” because you thought: “This is nonsense. It sounds just like something Karla Holloway or one of Brodhead’s other faculty favorites would write?”

In that case, JinC profile analysis reveals you’re intelligent, caring and very strongly connected to reality. You want what’s best for Duke. You wonder why so many of Duke’s recent endowed AAS professorships have gone to folks who share the Group of 88’s leftist ideology.

And Portion 2?

Portion 2 was written by Ms. Rachel Shack, a junior and member of Duke’s championship Women’s lacrosse team.

If you picked Portion 2 as “by the student” because you said to yourself, “I don’t know any AAS faculty member who writes this well,” then you appreciate fine expository writing. You’re also familiar with the recent writings of such AAS faculty "standouts” as Professors William Chafe, Orin Starn and Peter Wood

Or did you pick Portion 2 as “by the Prof” because you thought, “Portion 1 is the kind of thing a professor hands back to a student for a rewrite. So Portion 2 has to be by the Prof?”

If you did, than you have at least average intelligence but you've not kept up with a lot that's been happening at Duke during the last twenty or thirty years.

Well,that ends “Pick the Prof.”

How did you do?

I thank Professor Holloway, whose essay you can read here, and Student Shack, whose essay you can read here.

Hat Tip: KC Johnson


mac said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Thanks John

Halfway through #1 it became clear that no matter how I interpreted what the message was it may share, it was open to a re-write which could clarify it meant whatever they wanted it to later.


Anonymous said...

A re-write, to clarify
'what it meant', ltaer.

We are still awaiting a cogent response from a Duke 88 .
This will never happen.

Agree : Duke students still show their intelligence.