Sep 22, 2016

What Should You Call Your Professor?

Andrea Eidinger has a great post here answering that question and she also has this great flowchart.

HT: Mike Burer


Milton Stanley said...

I know the chart is meant to be humorous, but the topic is worth thinking about seriously, as it touches on some important trends in contemporary society, especially that of treating younger adults as adolescents or children. In a higher education classroom, everyone is an adult, whether or not anyone chooses to accept that fact, and we should address each other as such.

For example, whether I am the teacher or a student, my default mode of address for other adults in the class is Mr. X, Ms. Y, Dr. Z or Prof. Z. When I'm the teacher I remind undergraduates that we're all adults, and they are free to call me Milton. Few do, so I typically continue to address them formally as well. Whether they call me by my first name or I call them by their last, these higher education students are being reminded that they are adults now, and this isn't high school anymore.

As a grad student, I've always referred to my teachers as Dr. X or Prof. Y until they call me Milton, at which time I begin calling them by their first names, too. I've been doing this since I began grad school in my early 20s, and my only regret is that I didn't start doing so when I was 18.

Charles Savelle said...

I appreciate your perspective. I have wrestled with the whole title thing both as a student and as a professor. I take your point. But I wonder how your argument works when you see your medical doctor. Do you call him by his first name? Or how about meeting the governor of your state or a president of a country? I’m not sure it is simply about whether the room is filled with adults or not. I think it is more about maintaining decorum and showing respect to those who hold certain positions. It seems to me that part of maturity is learning how to show others the proper respect. I do agree that the article in question is somewhat tongue-in-cheek though.

Milton Stanley said...

My physician introduced himself to me as Denny. He's about my age, and we usually call each other "chief." I'm all for decorum, too, which is why I'm happy to call someone who has earned a doctorate "doctor." I once had a physician call me "Allen" on first meeting, and I let him know that he was the one not showing proper decorum. I actually went to school with our current governor, and I try to remember to call him "Bill" rather than "Billy." When I worked in a state office building near the capitol, the governor came through and met a lot of the state employees; most of my co-workers call him Bill to his face. As for our current President, decorum prevents me from saying what I would call him should we ever meet. And to be fair, I never actually met his mother.

Charles Savelle said...

I appreciate the push back. And I am willing to call my medical doctor by his first name if that is the way he introduces himself. Now most of us have not grown up with our governor and how he chooses to be addressed is up to him. I am guessing he wouldn't mind being called by his first name by a child either. I have no problem with that. As far as the president, I tried to avoid that by saying "a president" rather than "the president." But in either case, for me Romans 13:7 would apply even to the current resident of 1600 Pennsylvania Ave, my political differences aside. I might add that as one who holds an earned doctorate, I don't usually make much of it. In fact there is nary a reference to that fact in this blog that I can recall except for a friend who posted about it once. I also typically ask folks not to call me Dr. in church. I tell them if they really feel the need to call me something they can call me brother Charles. That being said, I think there might be a place for more formality in the academic context, even if that context involves adults.