Friday, October 5, 2007

The Fuddy-Duddy Post + a Quick Response!

I will admit to being and old fuddy-duddy in the academic wars. I taught my first college-level course in 1962.

I have read with some interest the endless caterwauling on this site about students and their entitlement. What students are entitled to is my best, my best as a professor, my best as a writer, and my best as a mentor. They aren't entitled to the kind of treatment they apparently get from their parents, friends, maids, and handservants, however.

In the 25 years I've been at my current post, I've watched the administration turn over and over in attempts to keep students happy. Not once in those years can I imagine a similar maneuver to please those of us who teach.

Long tenured and soon to retire, I don't give a tinker's dam what students think they need or want. I'm going to trust a lifetime in this discipline to guide me.

Those of who you are all tied up in knots about student evaluations and your own likability, might find comfort in another field. Why it matters so much to so many of you (via the reports I read on this blog) is perplexing. The colleagues of mine who also are of a certain age certainly don't worry about it, not one whit.

I do my job well. I still have a love for the field. I instruct and guide and those in the room who care and who work, learn. If it's old fashioned, then so be it.


I'm a third year professor at a large state school in the South, and I want to say that Prof. Fuddy-Duddy is my new hero.

I have struggled with my profession ever since grad school, and his post today has had a freeing effect on me. I'm going to trust myself, my knowledge, my 20 years of college, and my experience in the classroom. I've jumped through the necessary hoops for a PhD in my field from a good school, and - although I've been cowed into not admitting this in the past - I know what I'm doing!

Prof. Fuddy-Duddy's simple and elegant explanation is the fuel that's going to keep me going in a job that I've questioned since the beginning. His note about being tied up by "likability" concerns cut me deep. I've been so worried about my students approving of me, liking me, that I've catered to their concerns, the concerns and needs of 18 year olds who simply don't have the background I have in the study of History.

I have their needs in mind. I want them to succeed. I want them to learn and be better students and citizens, and I've been prepared for this job. I am going to do it the way I think it needs to be done starting today. No fear, that's how I feel. Prof. Fuddy-Duddy has taught me today, just like I'm sure he's taught thousands of students in his long career.

If you could, please send a shout-out to him for me.