I have a new professional technique: I call it “Thorin core” advising

5I’ve been in this job for approaching a year now, and the Thorin Oakenshield stuff constituted my first office decorations. It was a question in my final job interview — how have you used popular culture examples to make your point in teaching situations? — and I cited my comparison, in my survey class, of the difference between late medieval and early Renaissance art to 2D and 3D films, which I only knew about because of my interest in the frame rate debates about The Hobbit. So I felt like it would be appropriate to put that Thorin cutout in my entryway, and many a student, staff person, or faculty member has gotten a laugh, a thrill, or a scare from it. (Plus I have Richard Armitage looking at me obliquely all day long — and scaring away the evildoers.) I have added some stuff this year, too. After I saw the trilogy in marathon right before the U.S. premiere, I placed my hang tag ticket reverently around Thorin’s neck.

Gradually stuff has accrued. People bring me little things here or there that remind them of my office. The most moving was when one of our staff members came in with a small box. Her husband died five years ago, and she was trying to give away the last of his things. She’d been hanging on to his Lord of the Rings memorabilia — and thought I was the person to inherit and house it. So Aragorn has joined the advising club.

Today, though, I had to laugh. I have a student who’s been struggling with his grades and academic penalties, and he enrolled this summer in a very challenging series of classes that — if he managed it — would pull him completely out of trouble and allow him to graduate in December, but if he didn’t, would completely tank him and get him dismissed permanently. I’ve been on pins and needles all summer when I run into him, and cheering him on as much as possible.

Today was the second last day of summer term and I got a message from him about 4 p.m.: “I passed [name of last class] with a 76. Solid C. Does that do it?”

“YES!!! YES!!!” I emailed him back. “I know it wasn’t the easiest task, but you made a huge leap forward this summer.”

And this was his reply: “It was tough, but also very good. I feel like Thorin and the dwarves should have a song for this, as I walk battle-scarred from [building]. Onward to the fall!”

I had to laugh. The company of Thorin Oakenshield as inspirational moment.

I don’t know what the song should be. “Conjugate the verbs! Decline the nouns! somehow seems unappealing.

But honestly, dude: for you, I might sit down and try to write one.

Conjugate verbs! Decline a noun!

That’s how we’ll regain Erebor’s crown!

Study our vocab in run-down pubs!

That’s the stuff Servetus loves!

Hmmm. Doesn’t really quite convey what I meant.

But. YESSSS!!!!!

~ by Servetus on August 7, 2015.

26 Responses to “I have a new professional technique: I call it “Thorin core” advising”

  1. Thorin as student motivator…awesome…AND priceless!


  2. that is fab, now that is a true hero 🙂 someone who can inspire this! 🙂
    talking about Thorin, while yours is big i seem to be doing small and smaller 😉 Need to take a pic but went from lovely model version to pop Thorin and yesterday my first Lego came and the other 2 are in my basket awaiting next funding period LOL I just love the collection! And the smaller they are the more fierce they look 🙂 Inspires me a lot.


  3. Congrats to your student. I’m glad it worked out for him


    • Me, too. Big risk! But I knew he could do it and I am really pleased that he now realizes that he was capable of it, too.


  4. That song nearly made me spew my drink! ROFL


  5. YES!

    I’ve been in tough time recently, so I bought HIS key to remind myself. How about that 😛


  6. No disrespect to Peter Jackson’s brilliance and Arnitage’s characterization, but that was pure ‘you’, Servetus. Figuring out what would resonate with your audience and in this case, this one student, and he delivered the required results. You should be proud of yourself. I’m toasting you tonight.


    • Thanks. But I think the Hobbit / LOTR story is generally an inspiring one — so many people have been moved by it over the years.

      Wondering what they would think if I replaced Thorin with Groot?


  7. Thorin ist wirklich für vieles gut! Als Unterstützer, Motivator, Träumebringer, anspornendes Element 🙂

    Vielleicht hätte ich in mein Büro auch ein Thorin Poster oder Aufsteller hängen sollen. Unter dem Blick wäre einiges u.U.nicht so gelaufen…..


  8. Well done Serv!!! And Congratulations to your student!


  9. A toast to you both. Thorin mostly inspires me to jump his bones or comb his lovely hair (on his head, too), so I am glad you used him for such a lofty purpose. Loved they song. Your students are lucky to have you.


  10. Lovely and inspirational! Thanks for sharing!


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