Monday, October 30, 2006

Bill Parcells on Civility - Losing One's Amateur Status

There's been flurry over at Money Law on civility, with Nancy Rapoport and Jeffrey Harrison weighing in. (I should note that it all still sounds pretty civil to me.)  I think the issue is interesting and too complex to be addressed in a blog post, so I will limit myself to today's how-to from the world of professional grade incivility.  I didn't catch it on Sunday, but apparently football coach Charlie Weis, the newest edition of a legend waiting to happen at Notre Dame, was the interviewee on 60 Minutes.  The following is a quote from Michael McCarthy's Sports on TV column in USA Today this morning.

Weis admitted to being a "jerk" who abuses everybody, including quarterback Brady Quinn [ed. for those of you not familiar with this, Brady Quinn is an unbearably handsome 22 year-old with a certain future in the National Football League, but whose chances for a Heisman Trophy were significantly hindered by the pasting Notre Dame got earlier this year from a certain team to the east-northeast of South Bend].  He learned his in-your-face style from an even more obnoxious, sarcastic Jersey guy:  Dallas Cowboys coach Bill Parcells.  Weis recalls how the Tuna cut him off at the knees the first time he meekly offered advice at a coaches' meeting.  "You have been in the league for five minutes.  No one cares what you think, so just sit there and shut up," Parcells said.

Why we love sports....[Jeff Lipshaw]

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Call me Victorian, a prude, or naive (I've been called worse), but I was surprised that such a visible spokesperson for Notre Dame would use bleeped-out language. Query how fast the locks would change on my office door if I dropped the occasional expletive in Secured Transactions. At the same time, might the occasional profanity-laced tongue lashing motivate selected students to greater heights?

Posted by: tim zinnecker | Oct 30, 2006 7:06:33 PM

Ah, I'm sure we can come up w/a million such stories in the ivory-tower context.... Sometimes, profanity works--my first English prof at Rice started off my freshman-year class with a profanity-laced diatribe that shocked the heck out of me, but he taught me more about writing and analysis than I ever thought possible, and he was simply superb. (And I learned a lot of new words.)

On the other hand, the true profanity lies in professors who abuse their positions inside the classroom. I'm not impressed by those who use the podium to bully instead of teach, playing the "my brain is bigger than your brain" game. Countless students have been so turned off by the take-no-prisoners version of the Socratic method that they stop listening (and learning). The Socratic method, done well, is marvelous, but it doesn't have to shame the student who can't answer.

And don't get me started on incivility outside the classroom....

I've submitted an op-ed to the Wall Street Journal on the whole mess at Gallaudet. If the WSJ doesn't publish it, I'll post it on MoneyLaw.


Posted by: Nancy Rapoport | Oct 31, 2006 6:00:05 PM

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