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My friends and I call it the “I’m not a bastard” speech. It’s not as well known as “I have a dream,” or the Gettysburg Address or even Socrates’ “I drank what?” shortly before his death (credit to “Real Genius” for that last one).

You’ve never heard of the “I’m not a bastard” speech because it was given to a classroom by a professor at Purdue University just before he handed out teacher evaluations. The title derives from a statement he repeated over and over before finally releasing the forms from his grip to be passed around the class. The guy was pleading with us to realize he wasn’t a horrible man. To me, that’s more of a show-don’t-tell kind of thing. If you’re addressing the class toward the end of the semester to try and persuade them you’re not a jerk, then clearly you either are, you think you are or you at least think your students think you are.

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Ben Fields is the opinion editor. He is currently working from home. He can be reached at Follow @BenFieldsWV on Twitter.

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