4.0091 Forms of Address (88)

Elaine Brennan & Allen Renear (EDITORS@BROWNVM.BITNET)
Mon, 21 May 90 17:54:07 EDT

Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 4, No. 0091. Monday, 21 May 1990.

(1) Date: Fri, 18 MAY 90 10:53:32 GMT (40 lines)
Subject: names, terms and attitudes

(2) Date: Mon, 21 May 90 09:13:12 EDT (15 lines)
From: "S. Thomson Moore" <STMOORE@PUCC>
Subject: forms of address

(3) Date: Sun, 20 May 90 17:16:34 EST (33 lines)
From: Stephen Clausing <SCLAUS@YALEVM>
Subject: addressing students

(1) --------------------------------------------------------------------
Date: Fri, 18 MAY 90 10:53:32 GMT
Subject: names, terms and attitudes

Name calling

The discussion on what students/faculty call each other has highlighted a
difference in terminology between North American and British university

We don't in general have classes for undergaduates. Lectures yes.
Seminars certainly. And tutorials. Perhaps sessions in laboratories.
But classes are for school.

School; another difference. School is for pre-undergraduates. When you
come to University you have left school.

In our exams and assesments we dont have quizzes, or a least we dont
call them quizzes. A quizz implies playing little games to tease people
into revealing their knowledge and ignorance. Giving people quizzes
tells them that they are not yet ready to look at real problems, an
dthat they have to jump through hoops held by those with superior minds.

The point I am making is that for me North American terms such as these
have heavy connotations of regimented learning and attempts to control
through manipulation. I am NOT saying that we avoid those attitudes in
British universities, just that the language of American academic life
suggests from my perspective that those attitudes have been internalised
and accepted while British terms *appear* to challenge them and to offer
students a more equitable and dignified relationship.

How are these terms actually interpreted by North Americans (and how do
they react to British terms).

By the way calling someone just by their last name is a pretty heavy
put-down over here. It definitely implies a master/servant,
officer/ranker type of relationship.

Edis Bevan

(2) --------------------------------------------------------------18----
Date: Mon, 21 May 90 09:13:12 EDT
From: "S. Thomson Moore" <STMOORE@PUCC>
Subject: forms of address

Always implicit in forms of address is the question of power
relationships. The members of the Society of Friends (also known as
Quakers) felt, and many still feel, that it is unethical to make
distinctions of rank, wherefore their adhesi n to plain dress and plain
speech (using the familiar 2nd person singular to al ll, whether inside
the family or out, whether "superior" or "inferior").The usu al form of
address in a formal situation omits any statement of rank, including
"Mister" or "Mrs.", using the first and last names only. When a Quaker
needs to speak to someone whose name is unknown to her/him, she/he says
"Dear Friend".

(3) --------------------------------------------------------------38----
Date: Sun, 20 May 90 17:16:34 EST
From: Stephen Clausing <SCLAUS@YALEVM>
Subject: addressing students

My opposition to using first names with students can be explained by an
analogy. It is wrong to make a sexual advance towards a student, even
when that advance is not coupled with a threat, because implicitly any
such advance is always coupled with a threat, the threat that the
teacher might retaliate against the student if he or she says no.
Similarly, using a first name with a student implies an intimacy with
the student which the student may not share, but which the student might
be reluctant to reject. The better policy would be to assume that the
student would prefer a certain distance, call it respect if you will,
and address students only with last names. One could conceivably
conduct an anonymous poll at the beginning of the class asking whether
students would object to first names. There are, however, two problems
with this. First, if only a single student objected, the teacher would
be forced to abandon the use of first names, particularly since there
would be no way of knowing which student objected. Second, students can
sense the answer the teacher is hoping to receive (why pose the question
unless the teacher wants to use first names?) and will probably again
feel coerced into assenting. Ultimately it comes down to this: no lives
will be lost if family names are used, and a certain formality is better
than giving offense. Moreover, first names do not guarantee an
atmosphere conducive to learning nor do family names prohibit this. As
a graduate student, I found the teachers who were most chummy with the
students, e.g. first name basis, were also the ones who were most
disappointed when I did not share their political views. Was their use
of first names merely an act of cordiality or an attempt to curry my
favor? Conversely, I developed a deep respect for my dissertation
advisor and consider him a good friend, but he will always be Prof.
Seifert to me. This is enough intimacy.