Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Don’t call your professor by his/her first name? (by Xavier)

Jeff Culbreath, of the What’s Wrong With the World blog, really thinks that there is something profoundly wrong with professors preferring their students to call them by their first names.  He writes,
“It's undeniable that an increasing number of academics in the United States prefer to be called by their first names, viewing honorifics as pretentious and arrogant. The blame for this social calamity can be placed squarely at the feet of Marxist sociology, which more or less permeates society today. For the Marxist everything is reduced to power relationships, including titles and formalities. The use of honorifics exposes power relationships that are not supposed to exist (better translated as ‘you're not supposed to notice’) in our egalitarian society, interfering with the liberal's preferred method changing reality by ignoring it.

The first thing we know about any professor who rejects honorifics is that he defines his own position primarily in terms of power and privilege rather than knowledge or accomplishment, regarding the former as instruments of oppression. He feels embarrassed or guilty about this and prefers not to be reminded by his title. He has little respect for his own achievement, considering it something anyone else could do - which sounds deceptively humble. Behind the facade of humility there are some disturbing corollaries. It usually follows that such a man has even less respect for the achievements of others, which he thinks anyone else might have easily accomplished, most especially himself. He views many of those who fail to reach his own level of achievement with either pity or contempt, as the only legitimate explanations for inequality in his egalitarian mind are: a) oppression; or b) moral fault.”


Ouch!!  How does he know me so well?  I do prefer that my students call me by my first name, and so I guess I must also be a spineless, drooling liberal covered in misconceived mediocrity.  “Yes, call me ‘Xavier’ because I have absolutely no respect for myself or whatever I have done to get where I am.  I suck, so call me by my first name so that we can all suck together in a mass of soupy egalitarianism.  The lord knows that I only feign humility and fake trying to even the power field because of course there are power differences and I love it – oh wait, no I hate them and I’m ashamed of myself – but ooh, power feels so good – no, bad me!!!”

Ok, nonsense.  My guess is that there probably are some professors out there with some kind of mentality as whatever he is really getting at, but to generalize to all professors who wish a first name basis is a terrible generalization. 

Let me give you MY (meaning that this is not generalizable to all profs, even at UWW) reason for preferring the first name basis.  We are all in this education game together.  We all have a common goal.  The goal: awesome education for our students.  Professors have a role to play – students have a role to play – staff have a role to play – administrators have a role to play.  We all have integral roles to achieve this goal.  My education (and I do have a lot) does not make me more special than anyone else.  It just makes me qualified to play a certain role here on this campus.  Certain roles do come with certain privileges, but those privileges are only there to help in the function of the role.  And that is how the power associated with any role should be perceived too – it helps facilitate the role.  Thus, if I do not need students to call me by some special title for me to perform my role effectively, then I do not want to be called by that special title.  In fact, I believe that I perform my role better by preferring a first name basis.

Of course, for some professors, using more formal titles might help them perform their roles better.  For instance, I know of some women professors (not at UWW) that prefer their students to call them “Dr. so-and-so” because it helps students take them more seriously as professors, where otherwise the students might not.  Unfortunately, unthinking sexist students still pervade our schools making more formal titles necessary at times.  So different professors can have different reasons for preferring first name basis or a more formal basis.

Contrary to Culbreath, this role-based thinking of mine accords equal respect to all parties without somehow diminishing achievements of my own or others.   What I find distasteful are those professors who want the special titles because they feel that they’ve “earned” them.  Oooh, I hate that!  That is what I call a lack of respect for others to make them call you a title because that is what you worked for.  Let me tell you something, there are tons of people working damn hard out there in America – in the factories, in the mines, in the fields.  They are working damn hard for not enough pay.  If anything, they have earned the right of special titles.  Getting a PhD is very hard work too.  I am not minimizing that.  But putting your “special titled” self over the many other hard working people because “you earned it” is the height of arrogance and ignorance.  I say get over yourself and focus on the role you play.

The moral of the story: there is nothing wrong with students calling professors by their first names OR by more formal titles provided that the reasons are good reasons.  And "good" reasons qualify as the professor believes, in some manner, that his/her preference facilitates in the process of student learning.


  1. Common goal! I doubt it. Profs who come to Whitewater are not able to get a position at a more prestigious institution, but they have bills to pay and babies need milk, so they reluctantly accept a position here, but they would rather be elsewhere but they are either not good enough or special circumstances exist. So lets be real!

    Now due to a heavy teaching load, they are not able to complete their manuscript or to conduct quality research (poor research facilities) in order to get a better position elsewhere, so the years pass by and they find themselves stuck here. So they have no choice but to drink the kool aid and start believing that Whitewater is as good as Harvard, Yale or other more prestigious institutions. They settle in and put in their 30 years and retire albeit completely demoralized. One day, the death flag will fly over the campus in their honor, but no one will really give a flying fuck. Just another dead faculty member! The death flag flies for all!

    My advice to new faculty is to find time to get your book published and get the hell out while you can. Your future here is low pay, high teaching loads, and ultimately, the death flag.

    Now on the other hand, the common goal of students is to get a degree, some of them will cheat or even consider giving up a little booty to get it. Most students (not all) do not give a flying fuck about quality education. Most of them do not even attend classes regularly and these same motherfuckers will savagely rip their profs a new ass hole on evaluations. Student like everyone else in society want to get paid.

    For example, business is the largest major on campus. The university and COB admit students into the Pre-business who cannot even pass baby math. So how in the fuck does any idiot think that these students will be able to pass calculus and statistics a few semesters later. Its a scam!

    Students who cannot get into COB will become discouraged and either drop out or transfer into other more easier programs in the liberal arts! During this time, however, they will take out bank loans, rent inflated DLK apartments, purchase food, and everyone gets paid. So the University does not give a fuck if they make it or not, everyone gets paid.

    The common goal of administrators is to make the money! Fuck quality education. You talk the talk and walk the walk but get the money. The Chancellor at Madison makes $500k a year. She is getting paid. The chancellor here makes over 200k. He is getting paid. Secretaries are lucky if they make 30k. Administrators are nothing more than hired guns searching for money. Why does one go into administration in the first place. Its all about the money honey!

    In short, there is no common goal and if there was one, it definitely would not be to provide an awesome education to students. If I had to select a common goal - it is to make the money and get paid.

  2. Anon 5:01...
    Why just bash this area? You could say these things about a lot of places I bet. After all, it's not just people here that want to make money, it's people all over.
    So, do you have something against this area in particular? Or do you realize that it could be like this all over?
    If the latter is true, then instead of talking smack and making people feel like idiots for working or even attending UW Whitewater, just another shit-hole non-prestigious university, why not help make Whitewater a university that can be taken more seriously by jumping on board with Xavier here, and help bring back the supposed goal of a great education? Instead of blabbing on about how much of a scam this place is, think about ways that you could possibly make a difference, big or small. Have a little hope, jeez.

  3. Xavier, I am sorry I hurt your feelings. I just call it like I see it. You should listen to my advice or in 25 years or so, you will be retired, completely demoralized, and waiting for the death flag. You will remember my words - get out while you can! Defeat the death flag!

  4. You didn't hurt my feelings, but I do agree with Anon 2:17.

    Everyone wants to make money. It's almost a truism. But the issue is whether that goal trumps all other goals or that it somehow edges out all other goals. And that is where I disagree with you. I can want to make money AND make UWW an awesome teaching school.

    But then you have this point that Whitewater professors are the "B-team" and that Whitewater students generally suck. First about the profs. I want to disagree with you completely about it but I'm having trouble. I will say this. You seemingly presume that R1 schools or elite liberal arts schools are where everyone wants to go. That's not true. Many profs here don't care enough about research to want a R1 school (a top research school like UW-Mad). I'm pretty good at research and pubs, but I certainly don't want my worth in that. I value the teaching A LOT more. And not everyone wants an elite liberal arts school. Frankly, I don't like teaching at those schools (and I have) because I'm not needed at those schools to the extent that I am at UWW. Small liberal arts schools tend to have cream of the crop students - thus the these students already have a leg up in the world. Personally I rather have the not-cream-of-the-crop students so that I can be more of a help. I make a larger impact at a place like UWW than I would elsewhere, an impact in an area I deem incredibly important for our society. So the pay might not be the highest (though it isn't bad), but for some profs like myself, the school is perfect. I don't view myself as stuck here, even though the job market is tight. I actually think I could do pretty well getting another job if I really wanted to. But I really like it here.

    And this brings me to the point I really want to make: it sounds like you need to find another job. This job that we do is far too important for instructors to be teaching when their heart isn't in it. If you just feel like you are stuck here because you are B-team material and all you do is long for more money elsewhere, you are failing our students because that kind of attitude seeps into your teaching. If your goal isn't awesome student education, then please go and let those of us who really do care about that make that happen. For a little while, I wasn't understanding why UWW wasn't a premier teaching school because it seems that everything is set up for it (well, most things are set up for it). But maybe you just cleared my confusion. It is the attitudes like your own that hold us back. Teaching should not be viewed as a mere job. It should be viewed as an invaluable service towards educating America for the good. We have a ton of stupid people out there making stupid decisions. I don't want my students to become one of those stupid people - so I work hard to do what I can.

    Why aren't you?

  5. Xavier, hey don't get mad at me. I did not set this system up. Besides, I am not stopping you from being all that you can be, so go for it.

    You can believe what you want to believe but you are dead wrong about UWW being set up to be a premier teaching institution. UWW is not the flag ship campus! This campus cannot even get its buildings repaired in a timely manner. The workloads are heavy and the pay is low.

    I am glad you are happy with your salary because it will remain at the same level in the coming years, but you do not consider teaching as a job so you are probably fine with having a static salary. I am, as you stated, a member of the B team, but teaching to me, and to thousands of others, including school teacher, is a JOB and we want to get our fair share, even if we happen to teach at academically poor schools. We have to eat and want to get paid.

    Along with the other second rate universities in the UW System, UWW was established by members of the legislature in response to the voters pressuring them to open up the doors of Madison to their academically poor kids. Thus, it was structurally designed to be a second rate campus. I am ok with this but don't piss in my face and tell me that it is rain.

    With all the shit going on in this state, you should know by now that no one gives a flying fuck about the quality of education in Wisconsin. They are kicking teachers asses royally and you are still pushing that tired argument about awesome education. No child left behind bullshit. Dude, education is a trillion dollar business and everyone wants a piece of it, from DLK assholes to corrupt banks that provide unsecured credit cards and loans to naive students locking their asses into life long debt.

    A past UWW Chancellor had a pet slogan, excellence in the 21st Century, except he never said what it was. Another chancellor said, stay close go far. All bullshit slogans like be all that you can be. Yeah, you can be all that you can be alright, either a dead stupid motherfucker or one with half of a body fighting Uncle Sam's bullshit colonial imperial wars.

    Your slogan "awesome education" is also bullshit. What in the fuck does it really mean? How do you measure it? If you cannot measure it or define it in practical terms then it is just another bullshit slogan on par with Obama's race to the top bull.

    I am sorry you are upset with learning that you teach at a B school. You should always do your best in the classroom and help as many students as you can, but the university has been a poor school long before you arrived and it will be poor long after the death flag has been raised for both our sorry asses. You can feed fine oats to a mule but you are not going to make it into a triple crown winner.

    By the way, I have heard many profs say that they selected a second rate campus to teach at because they just love to teach academically poor students, sort of like bringing democracy to the Middle East. Frankly, I do not quite understand this kind of logic. Why would anyone select to teach at an academically poor school unless their options were limited. I have a good friend who proudly tell me that he would never cheat on his wife but he is very unattractive, grossly overweight, and financially poor, so his options are limited. Given enough options, most men (not all) will cheat! Very few men would have the back bone to reject a Megan Fox booty call!

    Conversely, if you had some real good options you would leave here in a New York minute. Where is Xavier? Oh, he accepted a full professorship at Yale! So lets keep it real!

    Don't kill the messenger Xavier! I am glad you have joined the B team. We always need new recruits. The death flag has already been raised three times this year.

    In the coming years, as you wait for your own death flag to be raised, remember I told you to get out.

    A proud member of the B team.

  6. Damn, you are so fatalistic, with an air of being okay at mediocrity. Here are some points:

    (1) I wasn't seeking a formal definition of "awesome education," but such education begins with professors caring about bringing one's students the best education he or she can. That has to be where it begins regardless of how much administration, gov't, or the students fight it or try to make our interests lie elsewhere. It really doesn't sound like that is the game you play. Let me ask: have you ever cared about bringing your students the best teaching you could possibly bring? If so, why did you stop? And don't give me "the system let me down" or "the system cracked down on me too much for x, y, or z." Whitewater gives more than ample resources, time, and opportunities to help one teach better than he or she is at currently. My guess is that your attitude just sucks and that you don't care.

    2) No one is under the delusion that UWW is a flagship institution. But "flagship" is usually reserved for research schools with no real consideration for the quality of teaching. No matter, there is no reason why UWW cannot have stellar teaching. The market is flooded with awesome talent right now and it's easy to snag A-team instructors. Even so, one has to believe that one can improve one's teaching no matter what level one is currently at. Unless you are deterministic, B-team people can move up to the major leagues and be A-teamers. It just means that one may have to re-tool, change one's attitude, see what other great instructors are doing here, and being the process of better teaching. No one says that that is easy by any means. But the cost of not doing so means that we are letting our students down.

    3) I fail to see why it is so hard for you to understand why many instructors would want to stay here even if they could go elsewhere. Non-R1 state schools have a distinctive flavor compared to R1 and elite liberal arts schools. Again, I for one do not like the two latter. I rather like non-R1 state schools and I do plan to stay (even in light of Walker). I am afforded an amazing flexibility to do whatever I want to do without pressure. And this area is just right in terms of family. You may say, "well, you are saying all this because you are really B-team but have delusions of A-team-ness. You couldn't go elsewhere anyway." Alas, the only way to settle this is for you to see my Purple Book and decide that for yourself. Of course that would blow my anonymity (though it may already be blown for all I know).

    4) The difference between you and I is that you are backwards-looking and I am trying to be forwards-looking. You seem jaded and fatalistic given the history of UWW and your history here (I presume). You don't seem interested in changing things for the better. You just want to get paid. If I had that attitude, I'd quit and find a new line of work that I actually enjoyed and wanted to do for more than just money. In light of the current realities of UWW, I want to elevate our level of teaching so that we start becoming known for great teaching. Why not be idealistic? Why not hope for long shot? Even if we fall short, it will still get us to a better place. If I fail to make any impact in five years or so, I will try to leave. But that seems so unlikely given that my department and the administration have been quite open to my ideas so far. I'm not finding a lot of red tape right now.

    So I'd rather you work with me instead of you saying "give up," "turn back now," "jump ship!" "mark my words."

  7. Thank you Xavier, for giving me hope that some professors do care about teaching, and actually believe in and want to achieve awesome education, despite the cold truth that everyone in this society must find a way to earn a living, and that sadly, some assholes choose to be teachers, and try to deliver their sorry excuse for an education, when in reality, they'd be better off delivering pizzas, contributing to clogged arteries and obesity, because they sure have the attitude and overall mentality for it.
    Some teachers like you though realize that education is valuable (despite the actions of the state) and are determined to deliver gold, while others are determined to deliver pyrite.
    So Xavier, who knows, maybe your students will somehow learn from you how to be cautious and not get duped in life by scammer banks & slumlords for example, or by people who try to spread their cold-hearted, hopeless one-way thinking with their "that's the way things have been and always will be, so face it" perspective, like our friend Anonymous here.
    Oh by the way Anonymous.... everyone dies. The professors of the prestigious universities, and the professors of the UWW's, the big-name celebrities, and the no-name Sallys and Joes. All alike in that they die. However, if you never make something of yourself in the place you're at (and supposedly stuck in), then what the fuck meaning does your sad life have, if you're always pissed that someone else is getting the bacon you for whatever reason feel you should be getting instead? You can die right now, and it won't matter, because YOU will never make a change or make something good out of your own situation let alone the situations of others around you because you are too busy crying about being a nobody B-team professor at a "bullshit" institution, and you want everyone here to cry with you, so you just try to suck everyone else into your crummy corner of the universe. I say fuck that and GET A LIFE. I would say try seeking a profession you love, BUT 1) You'd probably say you would if there was a better market for whatever it is you'd rather be doing and 2) I honestly can't imagine you being capable of loving any profession, considering what I've learned of your personality through your pessimistic retorts.

  8. 8:20, Calm down, take a chill pill. I know the truth hurts. When someone attacks me on a personal level, I know that my argument was effective otherwise they would have countered the argument. You are already defeated!

    As I told Xavier, I did not set this system up. It is what it is! You can call me as many names as you like, impugn my character, whatever, it will not change the fact that you attend a second rate university. But do not compound this by becoming a second rate person. Present your point of view with civility and character.

    Instead of hurling stink bombs because your feelings are hurt, try presenting some counter-arguments. So, am I wrong in my assessment of this campus? If so, where is your evidence?

    Second, if you have been reading my posts as you claim, then you should also know that I am a pluralist. I do not care one bit about what you think of me. I do not know you but I will not call you any names or impugn your character for holding a particular point of view.

    You are entitled to hold any position you like! Now I may challenge your position but I will not rely on personal attacks to do so. I will simply destroy your arguments using effective logic. So if you cannot stand the heat, then get out of the kitchen. I have absolutely no tolerance for weak arguments and stupidity.

    Thus, if you are a serious student, then learn to accept the arguments of others without reverting to invectives and personal attacks. If you do happen to disagree, then use solid arguments to present your point of view. I suggest that you read or take a philosophy class to learn how to present your argument in an effective and convincing matter.

    Read the follow and then think again about your own post.

    Ad hominem

    The ad hominem ("against the person") and tu quoque ("you, too!") fallacies focus our attention on people rather than on arguments or evidence. In both of these arguments, the conclusion is usually "You shouldn't believe So-and-So's argument." The reason for not believing So-and-So is that So-and-So is either a bad person (ad hominem) or a hypocrite (tu quoque). In an ad hominem argument, the arguer attacks his or her opponent instead of the opponent's argument.

    So what is your evidence that Whitewater is not a second rate institution? Remember, vile personal attacks do not count as evidence.

    Your move!

  9. Xavier,

    I sort of like you but you keep coming back for more whippings. So let me take you back to the woodshed.

    Again, stay focus Xavier, keep in mind that my main argument is that Whitewater is a second rate university. Say whatever you want about me, that I got fucked up as a child, had bad experiences here, but it will not change this fundamental fact! You can offer all kinds of rationalizations, but nothing will change. UW Whitewater has been and is a B level campus.

    I know you are upset, but regardless of the reasons used, you are a faculty member in a second rate department at a second rate institution. I did not make this up! We are very much alike, members of the B team.

    Lets deal with a few of the issues in your post.

    First, you were not able to offer a reasonable definition of the term, awesome education. Therefore, it is nothing more than a useless bullshit phrase, but you admitted this so lets move on.

    Second, you did not learn your lesson and are now presented yet another meaningless phrase,

    "it begins with caring about offering the best education possible".

    You are a prof, so how do you define caring, or better still, how would you determine if someone really cares. By their actions? Couldn't you pretend to care? My friend, there is absolutely no way for you to determine if a prof cared! We are good actors!

    Furthermore, what exactly do you mean when you use the phrase, the best education possible? How would you determine if prof X was offering the best education possible? Reminds me of the philosophy phrase, le meilleur des mondes possibles. Nuff said, you get the point.

    Next, where is the evidence behind your statement that elite universities do not care about teaching? How do you know this or is just another one of your assumptions.

    I have not seen your purple book so unlike you I will not venture to make any statements about your academic record, nor will I attack your character.

    Finally, members of the A team usually do not search for positions at weaker institutions like Whitewater, unless they were booted out like Charlie Tuna. There are a few here. They are good teachers but they were not able to cut the mustard at one of the elite institutions.

    Notice, I did not say one single negative thing about you or try to support my argument with vile character assassinations. So be a role model to the students you claim to love and care about so much by demonstrating that you can present a counter argument without resorting to personal attacks. After all, you are a prof.

    A proud member of the B team.

    Your turn! I still have some wood left!

  10. You know, I was never trying to argue that Whitewater was not a second rate institution. What I was trying to say was that even if Whitewater is a second rate institution, and even if you are a second rate professor who is stuck here, there's no reason not to make the best of it, and make your best effort, personally, to enrich this university by teaching not just as someone who wants to get paid, but as someone who cares about their students and their education, and longs for a common goal of awesome education. This may not be a prestigious institution, and this may just be a second rate, low class university, but regardless, if you're stuck here, make something of it. Don't bitch that you didn't set up the system, and call yourself a "sorry ass" for being a professor at Whitewater, who apparently will just end up demoralized, while the death flag, along with everyone who won't give two shits when it flies, awaits. You have the ability to be someone other than that, and make a difference, so students, faculty & staff WILL care when the death flag flies for you.
    So you're right when you say that I have attacked you personally, because I find your kind of person a detriment to this university, if not all of education in general. So the "argument" is not about Whitewater anymore, it's about your attitude, and who you are as a Whitewater professor. You may not know this, but attitudes and perspectives of professors do come through in their teaching, and they do ultimately come through in the overall quality of education at this university. If every professor was like you, I certainly would have left Whitewater by now, but thank whoever NOT every professor is like you.
    And by the way, I've taken plenty of philosophy, and although you might think otherwise, I am perfectly capable of making structured arguments. So, perhaps it was just the existentialist in me that went off in that last post, which might explain the lack of such an argument.
    So put aside the lack-of-argument in my post. Forget about my position, and start thinking about yours.

  11. Xavier,

    I like you. You are tenacious. Very few debaters come back from my George Foreman knock out punch. I thought I knocked your ass out with my last two posts but here you are again. Dude, admit your defeat and move on to other issues. You have already lost this one, so don't continue to put your foot in your mouth. I am not going to have any mercy on you this time. Because of all your vile insults, I am going for a first round Mike Tyson knock out.

    Based on your latest post, you now agree with my argument, that Whitewater is a second rate campus. That is all I was trying to get across. So we agree on this issue. Case closed.

    You should have ended your post with our agreement but you brought some other bullshit to the table.

    First, after admitting you insulted me viciously, you go on to insult me again, and unsuccessfully try to justify these vile insults by presenting the weak argument that I deserved them because of my attitude. I guess you want to send me to Gitmo for water boarding too.

    Professor, I have heard these kind of arguments in court, especially cases involving victims of domestic violence and and rape. Consider : (She "deserved" the abuse your honor because of her attitude and big mouth. Your honor, she wore a very short dress, flirted, so she deserved it.") The woman or the victim always deserved it. Your argument professor is that I deserved to be personally insulted because of my attitude. Same bullshit argument!!

    Just for the record professor so you know where I stand on this issue. No one, including animals, deserves, to be humiliated, bullied, personally insulted, mistreated, or physically or mentally attacked in any form or fashion. You can use your phoney logic to justify your vile personal attacks and insults and hide behind your fancy language games, but in my book it is unacceptable behavior period.

    So professor, do you really consider me as a detriment to the entire campus and to the educational community or is this yet another one of your fancy language games to booster your weak position. If you do, then you greatly exaggerate my power and influence, especially when there are over 1,000 faulty and staff on this campus and more than 3,000 colleges and universities in the US. I hold no title, except daddy to my kids, and I am certainly not Thor or one of the Xmen. So do not blame me for the second class status of this campus, and you are free to do whatever you want about it if you like. I am not standing in your way or blocking the school house door like Gov. Wallace.

    Furthermore professor, I am bothered when anyone tells me that I am a detriment to anything, because it reminds me of McCarthyism, southern racism, lynching, exterminations, etc. Given your position, I wonder if you had the power would you have me removed from campus, sent away for attitude readjustment, or even disappeared.

    Of course you are a decent fellow and this is probably not what you meant or implied in your post. I am just playing with you to make a point, but it is precisely the kind of "intolerant" thinking that lies at the root of these kind of events. Whenever you single someone our and suggest that they are a detriment to the campus, it is just a short step to call for their expulsion, removal, or elimination.

    So professor, I know you care about students and want to do a good job in the classroom, and got carried away with your anger, but keep in mind your job as a teacher does not end when class is not in session. Each post you make here or elsewhere is a reflection of your own teaching philosophy. So learn to be more tolerant, refrain from using personal attacks, and always take the high road.

    Ask yourself a question. Do you want to teach students intolerance or how to disagree with someone without being disagreeable?

    Your choice professor.

    Class is still in session.

  12. Um, Anon 9:44, are you sure you are reading these comments right? There is more than one person responding to you here evidently, and I have not maligned you. I'm tagging my comments as "Xavier" and only that.

    My biggest issue here is what goes into quality education and whether UWW has to serve anything less than that.

    So, I guess the only thing relevant for me to reply to is my "definition" of "awesome education," which I was never really concerned about making a precise definition. I did say that awesome education "begins with caring about offering the best education possible." Now let me be really clear: quality education begins with professors wanting to give quality education." Quality education (or "awesome" education) has a pre-requisite. It requires that the professor have the right attitude - the attitude to push oneself to find out how to teach one's students the best. The actual enactment of one's teaching will differ according to one's talents, personality, choice of content, student composition, and other variables. But that enactment only has a chance of being successful if the professor wants it to be successful. If a professor doesn't care two shits if his/her teaching is effective, then the class is probably a waste of time. I rest my case on this point.

    And I am suspecting that you may need an attitude change based on your comments here. You seem comfortable just saying that everyone here is second-rate and that we shouldn't expect too much from anyone. You find your teaching to be merely a job to get paid - nothing more. If I am wrong with my assessment, then please correct me.

    So if you find that me questioning the state of your attitude is seriously maligning you, I'm sorry you feel that way. But get a tougher skin. If you are mistaking someone else's comments for my own, you need to read better.

    The ball is now in your court. And since you seem to fancy yourself as a premier debater, prove to me that an instructor's attitude is not crucially important for great, quality education.

  13. Let agree to isagree about the educational stuff and the job. We will never agree on these two issues.

    But you pride yourself on being a quality educator yet you are very intolerant. Because I do not think like you or have the same attitude, I need an attitude adjustment but at least you are not like your fellow poster who stated that my attitude is a detriment to the campus and to all of education.

    I will repeat what I said to the other poster. I am tolerant of other people perspectives and points of view. I will not suggest that you need an attitude adjustment because you disagree with my perspective. You have the right to believe what you want.

  14. Relativism should not apply here. If we were talking about one's taste in ice cream where one's preference has no bearing on the good or detriment of others, then relativism is fine. But if, for instance, we are talking about whether drinking Draino would be good or bad for someone's health, one's view matters.

    I put the perspectives we have been discussing here more in the latter camp than the former. When discussing the quality of student education, there are better views than others. I fail to see how your view of acquesience is a better view than the view I espouse (that of wanting and pushing oneself to improve one's teaching for the benefit of student learning). Relativism just does not hold here.

    So we can agree to disagree, but that was never the point. Of course we disagree. The point, however, is that I cannot help think that you have given up on trying hard in your teaching. Again, show me that I am wrong. Show me that you put your all in one of the most important careers in our country. In a time when our country's citizens need better education more than ever (our country's thinking is dismal), our only hope is better education.

    I am intolerant of teachers who are not part of the solution to educating our students better. That is the right kind of intolerance.

    And please note that I have not maligned your personhood or character. I have only questioned your commitment.

  15. You are funny but you want me to show you my commitment to this career and I will comply knowing full well that it may blow my cover.

    From 1993 - 2006, I PERSONALLY selected and hired EVERY single faculty member in the College of Letters and Sciences. All my people are now senior faculty or have moved on. I made it my personal mission to select faculty members who were dedicated to teaching, had a commitment to students, and were tolerant. I supported them financially even directly intervened several times with the chancellor on close tenure decisions. If you need additional proof, just ask them, some of my appointees are in your own department.

    During a long 13 year run, I either developed or pushed many of the current programs in the college, including public history, liberal studies, travel study, general education core courses, master advising program, college web site, foreign languages, and many others that I cannot recall. I personally designed and continue to teach a travel study course (FOR FREE). Along with a retired colleague, I designed and taught the very first online course in the college and provided funds to support faculty members developing online courses. Along these same lines, I played a major role in the establishment of a college fund to support the acquisition of computers periodically for faculty members, and played a major role in the establishment of a faculty development program. I even establish funding for technology development in the college.

    Furthermore, to enhance the quality of critical thinking on campus, I ALONE established the L&S Lecture Series, and during the first two years or so I took a considerable amount of heat from assholes in the community over the selection of speakers. Along with my good buddy, the former Assistant Dean, we spent many long hours putting the liberal studies program together. Our goal, which appears to have worked, was to save the Philosophy Department from either merger or complete elimination by giving it a major. I cannot remember now if I came up with the original idea of public history or not, but be that as it may, my goal in pushing this and other like program was to offer more career options to liberal arts students. I could go on and on but I do not like to brag about the past.

    Over the past 18 years, I served either as a Chair, Assistant and Associate Dean, Dean, and Provost and Vice President at five different institutions.

    For the past 18 years I have been a member of the Higher Learning Commission based in Chicago. In case you are not aware, every institution is evaluated every ten years by one of the six commissions in the US. I am part of the team that conducts these accreditation reviews. During the past 18 years, I have chaired or participated in over 30 reviews. I served as a member of a review team last year and will chair an accreditation review to a campus this summer. I spent over two year chairing and collectively writing a substantial part of Whitewater's Self Study.

    Regarding teaching, I have always found it to be relatively easy. Part of teaching is entertainment and establishing rapport with students, your captive audience.

    If you can do that effectively, then you have the main ingredient to become an effective teacher. To me, teaching is very much like acting, either you got it or you don't! By the way, I have taught at several other institutions so I must be doing something right.

    By the way, given my past record, I continue to be pursued by head hunters, but I have held every administrative position, except chancellor, and do not want to hold another one. I will stay in the trenches with you until the death flag is hoisted. I may even be like Harold Bloom and teach until I am 80.

    So no more questions about me, my commitment, or my contributions to higher education. By the way, on the internet, you never know who you are talking to or the intent of their posts.

  16. My my. That is quite the commendable list! I really thank you for that work. However, all that wonderful work prompts in me two questions:

    1) While the past is noteworthy, our discussion has been about one's attitude and commitment to teaching now - or at least that is what I've been talking about. One could have a stellar career in teaching, hit a brick wall, then stop caring. I am not saying that has happened to you, but your comments in this thread seem to be a little at odds with your past accomplishments. Or am I wrong? You have shown yourself to be a champion of wanting to make UWW a better school, but then in this thread you relay that UWW can be nothing more than second-rate and that one should just get out if one can. So my question is: what happened to make you so jaded (if I am indeed reading you correctly)?

    2) Now, this is my much bigger question. If you have done all of that here at UWW - if you have made great strides in improving the quality of education here (albeit you weren't really addressing in-classroom dynamics much), then why oh why are you so fatalistic about UWW being second-rate?? If you yourself have enacted such change that can elevate UWW, why think that it cannot be done? Why put a damper on everyone else who wants to make UWW greater than it is, when you have actually done things for UWW's betterment?

    I'm not naive. I know that things happen and I am aware of UWW's recent past in L&S. But no matter - quality student education trumps. And with your last comment, I would think you'd agree with that. So why all the resistance to what I've been writing? Too idealistic? Maybe so, but I don't like the pessimistic alternative or idleness.

  17. To Anon 5:36

    I am not really going to get into you and Xaviors debate but as a student I want to tell you that I thank you for developing the Liberal Studies program, it's my major and I really enjoy the content of not only the program but also of the Philosophy department. I don't know what made you not like to teach as much, but I think I have an idea on who you might be, and If I am right then I want to thank you for getting me involved in philosophy in the first place.

    Prof. Chaos

  18. Wow, just read all this. And Sure society says to be professional and adhere to what it has decided to be 'correct' as educators but I DEEPLY value the principle of the student-teacher relation being a personal and comfortable one. As humans, we learn most of what we know growing up from our friends and I believe that is the best way to continue learning and teaching. Recently, I am aspiring to become a philosophy professor and when I see a student with an a strong interest in developing his knowledge, I'll do my best to take a personal interest in him and tell him what I know. Hell, he might even teach me a thing or two.