Tuesday, July 10, 2007
Me Tarzan you Jane
Not to worry. This is not an explicit post about me being dragged off to a tree house by a man wearing a leather loin garment. It's fortunately more harmless.
I have been pondering for a while on what Amanda I. Seligman has addressed in her First Person narrative over at The Chronicle: How should students address you? Amanda is an advocate for offering her students to be on a first name basis with her, but finds out later that not all students are comfortable with this familiarity. She is not so much worried about not earning respect from students based on the familiarity fueled by the first-name.
Well, I am. Just yesterday I was mistaken for a student strolling across campus. Last week at a dinner party hosted by Department Chair with students and faculty present, Department Chair’s husband asked me when I will graduate. Clearly, I need to work on appearing more like an adult. How can students possibly trust someone to teach them understand upper division science who they could envision as their dorm roomie? First-name basis? I just don’t know. There are the nightmares of a lecture hall of students in paper ball fights around a bonfire of textbooks with me tied down against a urinal in the men’s restroom. I however might not even have a choice in the matter. The conundrum is that most of the members of my department are on first-name basis with their students. If I insist on Dr. TenureTrackNewbie, I will radiate self-esteem problems. Perhaps I underestimate my future students. Maybe despite the familiarity of the first-name they will show mercy and not toss me into the school fountain while pouring chicken noodle soup all over me because I have to give them a C…
In the end even Amanda doesn't have an answer even after years of experimentation with the various approaches. I am greatful for her 1st person narrative, and I am curious if other faculty have any words of wisdom.