Dear Professor E–:
I’ve been thinking about our relationship a lot lately. Do you remember how we first met? You, the professor–the gatekeeper; me, the seeker? I remember it like it was yesterday. You lectured me on the importance of listening. Always the professional, you wouldn’t fudge my grade just because I made really good arguments why I didn’t turn in my work on time. Didn’t you understand that I was just coming out of another relationship and didn’t have time for you yet?
Without you, I would’ve never experienced growth. Of course, I’m referring to how you led me from veritable darkness to light in the areas of critical reading, argument analysis, and revision.
Like a dream, you asked me to explore anything I wanted. You challenged me to research a body of work in a way I never before had. You even allowed me to use webpages. More than that, you loosed the first-person-perspective that I had bottled up inside for all these years. Specifically, I told you I wanted to go to Mars. Like a good friend, you encouraged this dream, while subtly encouraging me to do a little research before packing. Now, neither of us were greenhorns when we met, but it is because of your relentless attention that I discovered how to improve my ability to read for understanding and then communicate my findings via the written word. The only pity is that, according to my research, there is a great chance that after I’m selected to move to Mars, our relationship will be forced to end. I hope you’ll write.
Next, I wanted to thank you for the invaluable lessons in argument analysis. Before we met, I always thought I won my arguments using “the right way.” Never in my wildest dreams did I expect to learn that I could be right using several different methods of argumentation. Formal logic is difficult to defeat, but with your help I learned that it isn’t the only kind. You taught me The Toulmin Model, which comes in most handy when reading an argument that is so shameful that the writer hides what they really have to say. Just the same, I want to be good at everything, so learning how to be forgiving during a debate proved invaluable. And then, do you remember how you kept me up late reading about Rogerian analysis? You know, when you apply the time-tested art of flattery to win over dissenters? The whole, “Let me outline your argument for you, praise it, but then subtly recommend that my way is still better.” It’s really touching how it works. If you ever get sick of me, I just may use it to win you back—watch out!
Finally, and really through everything—thick and thin—you taught me how to keep an every-watchful eye on my own writing. Revise, revise, revise. Over the last several months, you asked me to do a lot of things. Sometimes I was uncomfortable, yet you always required that I take it a step at a time. It was here where I learned that the process is as important as the product.
So here we sit—you and me—in this crazy, crazy world. Who can know what the future holds? All I can hope is that you’ll stay in mine. It’s been wonderful thus far Professor E–. You’re the best.
Pete, Favorite Student