Thursday, December 22, 2005
In addition to teaching Legal Research and Writing at Capital University Law School, J. Joseph Bodine, Jr. is a Senior Assistant Attorney General in the Office of the Ohio Attorney General. Professor Bodine also supervises the death penalty externship program at Capital. The program affords Capital Law students the opportunity to litigate death penalty cases in the state and federal courts.
Professor Bodine sent us a comment on the posts of Professors Stillman and Jarmon about their takes on the role of academic support personnel. He writes:
I take great comfort in the recent comments regarding the role of academic support professors. My experience has been the same—at times, I feel that I am more coach, cheerleader, therapist, trouble-shooter, or best friend rather than a teacher. Then it occurs to me that the definition of teacher encompasses all those roles.
I believe that effective academic mentoring requires a holistic approach. What occurs outside of the educational environment is as important (sometimes more so) as what happens within the confines of school, and I see my role as helping my students manage outside stressors as well as helping them learn more effectively. That role, however, is challenging because my natural instinct is to serve as caregiver (once a court referred to me as “radically paternal” in a published opinion). And if one becomes too much of a caregiver, I fear that the effectiveness of teaching may suffer.
Professors Jarmon and Stillman identify what I think is the greatest challenge of being an academic support professor—where does one draw the line? And should the line be drawn at all? I take great care to avoid taking ownership of student problems or ultimate responsibility for their success or failure. At the same time, I embrace every opportunity to be, as Professor Jarmon calls it, my students’ chief encourager. I strive, like Professor Stillman, to help students keep a sense of self are so they do not become casualties of the law school experience. But I struggle to keep the necessary balance—can you care too much?
Thanks for the thoughts, Professor Bodine. (djt)