It’s about the students

It’s about the students

More evidence of the narcissism of our times: College students no longer have respect for their professors. The story describes the overly familiar and demanding way students address their professors via email. I know this is true; Melanie has told me some tales of her former students.

These days, they say, students seem to view them as available around the clock, sending a steady stream of e-mail messages — from 10 a week to 10 after every class — that are too informal or downright inappropriate.

“The tone that they would take in e-mail was pretty astounding,” said Michael J. Kessler, an assistant dean and a lecturer in theology at Georgetown University. ” ‘I need to know this and you need to tell me right now,’ with a familiarity that can sometimes border on imperative.”

I see a couple of reasons for this problem. For one, there’s the familiarity of email. In the past, written communication was formal, with rules of etiquette and standards of address. But email, IM, and SMS have led to an informality. Sometimes that can be good, cutting through the extraneous so that you can get to the point right away. But in cases where respect and formality would be a asset, those who aren’t used to it are left unprepared.

Another part of the problem is the professors themselves. The day of the white-haired professor in the tweed jacket who stood as an eminent and imposing authority figure is largely gone. Professors today hang out with their students socially, not just grad students and upperclassmen within their discipline, but with younger students as their pals or even in romantic relationships. They also espouse all kinds of inane ideas—often having nothing to do with their subject—pontificating their liberal ideologies.

Rating your professor

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