Pop Quiz: What did you call me?
My school tends toward the informal. Many professors encourage their students to call them by first name. This likely because many of the students are non-traditional, or because we’re a women’s college.
I hate that.
I insist my students call me Doctor or Professor Apostrophobia. I have overheard students complain about that, saying how while yes, I had earned the title, but how dare I require students to acknowledge my accomplishments!
OK that’s a bit over the top, but that seems to be the sentiment. How am I actually “better” than the students?
Well, it could be that I indeed worked for an extended period of time to prove I was an accomplished scientist before I could be called “doctor”, but hey that’s me! I actually do it because we’re not on the same playing field; my job is to assess student performance in the class. There’s no way we’re actually equals then. At the end of the course, I give a magic letter that says “here’s how well you did what I asked.” I have no desire to muddy the waters by suggesting we have any other kind of relationship. Students who have suggested non-scholastic, friendly relationships are promptly shut down and told “not until after you’re no longer my student.”
That’s actually worked out very well for me barring the “stuck-up” comments I get from time to time. (I have no doubt there’s an element of male-female bullshit there too, but I haven’t explored that as much and now that I’m at a women’s college it’s no longer an issue. I’m also old enough that being perceived as inexperienced is highly unlikely, another reason some advocate the use of titles.)
I’m not the students’ friend. I’m their supervisor at best and their judge at worst. I want them to treat me that way and one way to enforce that distance is by not letting them be overly familiar. I also just like the more formal tone it sets, in that the classroom isn’t the bar or home or what have you, it’s a place to work. Of course I hate it when telemarketers call me by first name too. And while we’re at it, get off my lawn!
Here’s my question to you: what do you ask your students to call you and why?
The Pop Quiz is a question posed to you, the Scholars of Doubt. Look for it on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays in the afternoon (ET).