4.0052 Addressing Students (108)

Elaine Brennan & Allen Renear (EDITORS@BROWNVM.BITNET)
Tue, 15 May 90 17:37:50 EDT

Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 4, No. 0052. Tuesday, 15 May 1990.

(1) Date: Mon, 14 May 90 17:41:01 EDT (23 lines)
From: matsuba@writer
Subject: Re: 4.0040 Addressing Students (77)

(2) Date: 14 May 90 17:54:31 EST (31 lines)
From: James O'Donnell <JODONNEL@PENNSAS>
Subject: nomenclature

(3) Date: Mon, 14 May 90 15:35 PDT (24 lines)
Subject: Re: 4.0040 Addressing Students (77)

(4) Date: Mon, 14 May 90 19:59:49 EST (20 lines)
From: Stephen Clausing <SCLAUS@YALEVM>
Subject: not addressing students

(5) Date: 05/14/90 22:27:00 (10 lines)
From: Tzee Zahavy <MAIC@UMINN1>
Subject: Student names

(1) --------------------------------------------------------------------

Date: Mon, 14 May 90 17:41:01 EDT(5) (13 lines)
From: matsuba@writer
Subject: Re: 4.0040 Addressing Students (77)

Writing as a graduate student who moved from a rather formal department
to a much more informal one, I find that using first or second names
really depends on what is more comfortable for the person being
addressed. At the University of British Columbia, it was more or less
expected that you refer to a professor as "Dr." or "Professor"
so-and-so. There were, of course exceptions. At York University, it is
the opposite. It is almost expected that you address profesors by their
first names. Again, with some exceptions.

My way of coping is to address people as "Dr./Professor/Mr./Ms. ______",
and then wait for a response. Usually they will SAY, "NO CEREMONY,
STEPHEN, NO CEREMONY," or they will smile in way that says you did the
right thing.

Stephen Matsuba
York University
Toronto, Canada
(no ceremony)
(2) --------------------------------------------------------------36----
Date: 14 May 90 17:54:31 EST
From: James O'Donnell <JODONNEL@PENNSAS>
Subject: nomenclature

From: Jim O'Donnell (Classics, Penn)

Long ago, trying to figure out a sensible way to deal with sticky issues
of names and titles, I decided that two rules ought to suffice:

1. Always call other people by whatever name/title/nickname *they* will
feel comfortable with. If first names, fine, if last name and titles,
if Miss, fine, if Ms, fine, if Mohammed Ali, fine, if Binky, fine. My
experience has been that my students expect and are comfortable with
first names, so first names it is.

2. Always allow and encourage other people to call *me* by whatever name/
title/nickname *they* will be most comfortable with. So when I taught at
Catholic U. of America, where the culture demanded `Dr.', I gritted my
teeth and took it (growling when I came into the office with an older,
wiser, and more learned friend, and the secretary punctiliously looked up
and said, `Good morning, Dr. O'Donnell, Good morning, Mr. M-----r.' So
when I taught at Cornell, it was all first names. Now at Penn it tends
to be Dr. again, but not always: but I'm *not* going to put students
on the spot by insisting on something less formal. I suppose the
exception would be a flagrantly contemptuous address: but then I'm
not objecting to the form of address, but to the contempt -- and so
if then (it's never happened), I have to say, `That's DR O'DONNELL to
you, bud,' it's not really a question of nomenclature.

Anyway, these rules work for me and I find I spend little if any time
worrying about such things. More important problems.
(3) --------------------------------------------------------------214---
Date: Mon, 14 May 90 15:35 PDT
Subject: Re: 4.0040 Addressing Students (77)

Well, having grown in a tough-enough Bronx, the last name is the name to
address anyone by safely. Gladhanding with the first name seems to me
a condescension and intimacy not earned, and I hate to give a D or F to
someone I call by his or her first name. Using the first name makes me
feel I am laying hands on the student, and not respecting their
maturity. Without a Ms or Mr it is intimate enough for me, thank you.
Kindergarteners get to be called by their first name, but that is a
childish thing one puts away on coming to voting age, I should hope.
Just because one is friendly, one is not friendly to people who not
one's peers, and the lack of formal heirarchy is a bit disorganizing.
Of course, if you let them decide who is teaching and who is being
taught, what little one can teach, because one knows so little, then one
is getting down and not bring them up. I'll be damned if I let a
stranger call me "Yosha" or something like that, when it cost me a
front tooth in childhood because I didnt like the hamfisted guy who
sneered when he call me that. I prefer the last name, with or lwithout
Professor or Doctor, Mr will do to approach this old fella. Next thing
one knows, one is hauled in for giving a nuance to"Suzy, dont you know
a dangler when you see one?" NOt for me. Miss Jones isbetter than Suzy
Q. Kessler here at UCLA
(4) --------------------------------------------------------------27----
Date: Mon, 14 May 90 19:59:49 EST
From: Stephen Clausing <SCLAUS@YALEVM>
Subject: not addressing students

It was never my intention to begin a discussion on the merits of using
first vs. last names with students. I chose that example almost at
random from my student evaluations to show that students get very upset
over issues that are inherently trivial. The general rubric was "malice
towards students" and this was my contribution. I know one colleague
who refuses to read his student evaluations because of the utter
stupidity of student comments. He is, I might add, one of our best
teachers. I do read my evaluations if only because I am vain enough to
believe the good ones and arrogant enough to think that the bad ones are
wrong. I sometimes get evaluations in which the student says I am the
best teacher he or she has ever had, and in the same class I may have a
student who blames me for the D he or she is going to get. What I
really would appreciate would be this evaluation: "Dear Professor X. You
obviously attempted to do a good job teaching the class even though the
administration doesn't care and no one will ever know that you did,
except me. Thank you."
(5) --------------------------------------------------------------18----
From: Tzvee Zahavy
Subject: Student names

Wait a minute. After 14 years at the U of M now you tell me that I am
supposed to learn my students' names! Why? ... But seriously, doesn't
context have anything to do with the issue? In a course with 340
students I give up. In a seminar with 4 students I know them well, much
more than by first name. I know their talents, personalities and egos.
I find a class of 40 to be a problem. It is time consuming to call roll
but tempting to get to know individuals. In evening school I prefer
first names. In morning classes, last names. Context counts.