Become a fan of Slashdot on Facebook

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Education United States

'U Can't Talk to Ur Professor Like This' (nytimes.com) 486

Millennial college students have become far too casual when they talk with their professors, reads an opinion piece on The New York Times. Addressing professors by their first names and sending misspelled, informal emails with text abbreviations have become common practices (Editor's note: the link could be paywalled; here's a syndicated source) among many students than educators would like, Molly Worthen, an assistant professor of history at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill adds. From the article: Over the past decade or two, college students have become far more casual in their interactions with faculty members. My colleagues around the country grumble about students' sloppy emails and blithe informality. "When students started calling me by my first name, I felt that was too far, and I've got to say something," Mark Tomforde, a math professor at the University of Houston said. Sociologists who surveyed undergraduate syllabuses from 2004 and 2010 found that in 2004, 14 percent addressed issues related to classroom etiquette; six years later, that number had more than doubled, to 33 percent. This phenomenon crosses socio-economic lines. My colleagues at Stanford gripe as much as the ones who teach at state schools, and students from more privileged backgrounds are often the worst offenders. [...] Insisting on traditional etiquette is also simply good pedagogy. It's a teacher's job to correct sloppy prose, whether in an essay or an email. And I suspect that most of the time, students who call faculty members by their first names and send slangy messages are not seeking a more casual rapport. They just don't know they should do otherwise -- no one has bothered to explain it to them. Explaining the rules of professional interaction is not an act of condescension; it's the first step in treating students like adults.
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

'U Can't Talk to Ur Professor Like This'

Comments Filter:
  • Daycare for adults (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 15, 2017 @02:26PM (#54420783)

    This is basic stuff, and they graduate high school without learning it. What did they put on their college application, a plagiarized form letter?

    • by __aaclcg7560 ( 824291 ) on Monday May 15, 2017 @02:33PM (#54420861)

      This is basic stuff, and they graduate high school without learning it.

      First day of Junior Engineering in the eighth grade, the instructor told us that "Yo!" wasn't an appropriate classroom response. We also got advice on brushing our tongue when brushing our teeth and using deodorant.

      • h8 crymes (Score:4, Insightful)

        by s.petry ( 762400 ) on Monday May 15, 2017 @02:39PM (#54420901)

        nuf sed

        Humor aside, your instructor was correct. Professional life requires the ability to effectively communicate to a large audience. Appeasing your friends and acquaintances is not the same thing. Sadly we have had educators claiming what "you" want is all that matters, to the detriment of millions of students.

        • Re:h8 crymes (Score:4, Insightful)

          by __aaclcg7560 ( 824291 ) on Monday May 15, 2017 @02:48PM (#54420997)

          Sadly we have had educators claiming what "you" want is all that matters, to the detriment of millions of students.

          I don't blame the instructors for that. I blame the parents. If parents don't expect their children to behave, the children will have no expectations to follow. I grew up in a household that children were expect to be seen than heard or else the belt came out. Teachers always marveled how quiet and polite I was.

          • by s.petry ( 762400 )
            The two parties are not mutually exclusive. I agree that parenting is a large part of that culture, instructors (teachers/professors) are just as guilty. I don't agree that you need a belt either. My kid was always disciplined in school and held accountable for his actions, right or wrong.
            • I don't agree that you need a belt either.

              It is not only not needed, it is counterproductive. There is overwhelming evidence [nih.gov] that corporal punishment tends to produce kids that have worse behavior, poor impulse control, are more likely to resort to violience, and more likely to end up in prison.

              Disclaimer: I have whacked my son a few times, but I am not proud of it. My daughter, never, not once.

          • I don't blame the instructors for that. I blame the parents. If parents don't expect their children to behave, the children will have no expectations to follow. I grew up in a household that children were expect to be seen than heard or else the belt came out.

            Hear, hear!!!

            Goodness, I wonder when it was that what used to be common sense and basic public etiquette disappeared?

        • by mysidia ( 191772 )

          Very few professionals need to communicate with a large audience. "Yo!" will suffice in general if it is in common usage.

          The professors are forgetting that their job is to provide the service their customer (Their student) is paying a lot of money for.
          If you want to dictate everything about this relationship, then become like Google and provide your service for free, take it or leave it.

      • Junior engineering in junior high school? What sort of stuff did they teach?

    • by Notabadguy ( 961343 ) on Monday May 15, 2017 @02:43PM (#54420941)

      This is basic stuff, and they graduate high school without learning it. What did they put on their college application, a plagiarized form letter?

      Are you kidding?

      40% of American High School GRADUATES (yes, graduates) can't read or write. They get graduated anyway. Front cover of Time Magazine.

      These little assfaces get participation trophies for showing up and told that everyone is a winner. They think that they're ahead of their peers for knowing how to plagiarize a form letter.

      And sadly, they're mostly not wrong.

    • What did they put on their college application, a plagiarized form letter?

      I suppose technically it qualifies as that [clipartfest.com].

    • http://www.nationalreview.com/... [nationalreview.com]

      no, just #blacklivesmatter 100 times.

      because fuck standards.

  • by Tukz ( 664339 ) on Monday May 15, 2017 @02:26PM (#54420785) Journal

    If you want to be taking just mildly serious, don't talk like that to anyone.

  • Dude (Score:5, Funny)

    by MountainLogic ( 92466 ) on Monday May 15, 2017 @02:26PM (#54420787) Homepage
    Y did u flunk mezzzzz?
  • by __aaclcg7560 ( 824291 ) on Monday May 15, 2017 @02:28PM (#54420815)
    The community college I went to was pretty laid back with most instructors being called by their last name. The other community college in the district was more uptight with instructors insisting on being called "Instructor" before their last name. Never understood that stick-up-the-wazoo attitude, as they were teaching the same material and getting paid the same rate.
    • I went to a service academy; the instructors were called Sir or Ma'am - and in the third person as "Dr. ____" or by rank.

    • by Drethon ( 1445051 ) on Monday May 15, 2017 @02:45PM (#54420969)

      The community college I went to was pretty laid back with most instructors being called by their last name. The other community college in the district was more uptight with instructors insisting on being called "Instructor" before their last name. Never understood that stick-up-the-wazoo attitude, as they were teaching the same material and getting paid the same rate.

      I'm a full time engineer who has taught a few classes. I felt like things worked better when I wasn't really positioned above the student. I taught the classes as I'm an engineer and I'm going to try to bring you up to the same level of knowledge. How you e-mail me, how you address me, I don't really care as long as it isn't offensive. When we get to homework or projects, I will tell the students up front it better be written up properly or it will be graded down. But there is time for being formal and time where it just doesn't matter.

      • The teacher is a person who has knowledge of something important to the student and is in the service of imparting that knowledge. This is not a symmetrical situation, unlike working with coworkers who sometimes teach you and sometimes you them, in the class the flow always goes from the teacher to the student. Taken to the extreme, knowledge is sacred and if its transmission allows the student to survive and progress in their lives it needs a structure to direct that flow. The "archetypal" structure is alw

    • by TheRaven64 ( 641858 ) on Monday May 15, 2017 @03:01PM (#54421141) Journal

      I don't mind if my students (Cambridge) call me by my first name. Formality can be polite, but it can also be a barrier to free exchange of ideas and that has no place in a university. I'd be very surprised if MPhil or PhD students didn't call me by my first name.

      That said, if you write me an email and can't be bothered to write in grammatically correct sentences then you've obviously decided that your time writing the email is more valuable than mine reading it and I'll respond accordingly, if at all.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 15, 2017 @02:28PM (#54420821)

    The only person I know who uses "U" and "ur" in serious correspondence is over 50 years old. It's not a millennial problem. It's an idiot problem.

    • Indeed, where I work the email I get from on high is frequently littered with abbreviations and acronyms. Granted most of it wouldn't be mistaken for leet speak but it's the same attitude of expecting everyone else to understand what they mean so that they can be lazy. The number of spelling and grammar mistakes is also appalling, given that they are using the same email client as I do which handily identifies spelling and grammar mistakes.

    • by Dwedit ( 232252 )

      Also, today's new college students are generally not millennials, since that is defined as being born between 1980 and 1996.
      It's exactly like people complaining about the MTV generation with their short attention spans [xkcd.com].

  • No (Score:4, Insightful)

    No. It is not the job of college professors to correct students unable to communicate correctly. That was the job of the high school teachers. Students unable to communicate correctly should not have been admitted to college, because they shouldn't have received their high school diploma.
    • Students unable to communicate correctly should not have been admitted to college, because they shouldn't have received their high school diploma.

      I graduated from the eighth grade, skipped high school and went to community college. I had college-level reading comprehension but fifth-grade skills in everything else. I didn't learn to properly communicate until I took Small Group Communications in my last semester.

    • It's not about that.

      They're using modern speech patterns and etiquette. They're talking casually, which means using slang and first names. The mode of slang in text is ugly grammar, and that's not the thrust of it.

      "When students started calling me by my first name, I felt that was too far, and I've got to say something,"

      They're upset because it's not old-style etiquette.

      I don't recall ever working for an employer where I called my superior Mr. anything. Go back 100 years and you called your boss Mr. Foreman and his secretary Ms. Goodbody. Today you just call your manager by his first name, hold informal

      • Re: (Score:2, Flamebait)

        Please stop. It is not using modern speech patterns. It's simple etiquette. Now stop being an mindless ass-hole.
      • Nobody's explained to you that you talk up to your superiors with honorifics and formalized speech. Nobody's explained this because it's a history lesson. This is also why we didn't teach you how to make tithes to your Earldom.

        liek yeah bro u know it dis is the way we talk at each other now proper eglish is ancient history dude btw why u fail me? i did the homeworkz and shit... i dont get it plz help i cant fail my dad will kill me lol okbye c u monday

    • Re:No (Score:5, Informative)

      by Oswald McWeany ( 2428506 ) on Monday May 15, 2017 @02:45PM (#54420967)

      The problem is, some teachers could almost be accused of "promoting" overly casual correspondence with the kids in an attempt to look "hip" and to "connect with" the students.

      My son's sarcasm and lack of correctness took a nose dive the last year of elementary school, his teacher was a bad influence and encouraged sarcasm, and lack of respect for authorities. Something we've seen continue into middle school where we are confounded by the teachers there who seem to find my son's lack of respect for them amusing. (he doesn't understand why he can't come home and use the same lack of respect and sarcasm towards us that his teachers find amusing). I don't think some of these teachers realize the disservice they are doing the kids.

      When they get a job in the real world, 9 times out of 10, their employers won't be impressed with sarcasm, lack of proper communication skills, and lack of respect.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        You should realize that sarcasm is our bodies natural response to stupidity. Maybe your child is not the problem?

    • No. It is not the job of college professors to correct students unable to communicate correctly. That was the job of the high school teachers. Students unable to communicate correctly should not have been admitted to college, because they shouldn't have received their high school diploma.

      Fuck, can't give you a +1 because I commented. But damned straight. Send them back to high school and make them get another participation award.

      • Send them back to high school and make them get another participation award.

        B-But, how would that be fair to the kids who didn't participate?

  • by irving47 ( 73147 ) on Monday May 15, 2017 @02:34PM (#54420865) Homepage

    I'd never have used a professor's first name unless the age gap was minimal, and they had explicitly said it was OK... BUT... we walked half-way across campus in 95-degree heat in 90% humidity, to a temporary/portable building that sat maybe 30 students... Then we get told that unlike just about every other class we'd been in, this philosophy teacher (a condescending hippy, ironically, enough) didn't allow drinks... I watched an argument get pretty heated once, and started wondering, hey, who's paying who to be here?

  • In my experience (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 15, 2017 @02:35PM (#54420869)

    People have gotten much more informal with EVERYONE. They have no respect or perception of authority or seniority.

    Hell, 10+ years ago, Scrubs even did an episode where the (older) Kelso was trying to get through to this overweight girl about the dangers of surgery and she basically talked over him and Google'd everything as he spoke and he went on about how back-in-the-day, being a doctor "meant something" and you got things like free hair cuts, not to mention RESPECT.

    So if a comedy show noticed this 10+ years ago, it's been going on for a lot longer. I've gotten far in life simply by treating everyone with respect. People notice and appreciate it when you go out of your way to recognize their inherent human dignity.

  • Students addressing their professors by their first names isn't necessarily a sign of entitlement, poor manners, or bad judgement. On the contrary, it is sometimes a clumsy attempt at social engineering. You try to make the professor think of you as a friend or peer, and that makes it less likely that your "friend" will give you a bad grade.

    As a means of manipulation, it doesn't cut much mustard in engineering. Very few of my colleagues would tolerate it, and very few students I have met attempted it. B

  • Doesn't really matter that they talk to their professors....

    The problem is that they are writing papers like this. And communicating to potential employers like this. There's an entire generation if kiddiespeaking illiterate sons of bitches that can't figure out why their attempts to get meaningful employment go unanswered.

  • It goes both ways (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Atmchicago ( 555403 ) on Monday May 15, 2017 @02:39PM (#54420899)
    When my grandparents were in college, they were addressed by their professors as Mr. and Ms. Now, professors address their students by first name. I'm all for insisting on correct spelling and grammar, and for respecting the use of Dr. or Professor, but perhaps the faculty could win support if they treated their students like the adults they are.
  • This is 2 different problems.
    1) Not being able to write appropriately. "U" isn't a word, and using it as such is never appropriate. When you write a formal report, it should be using appropriate words and phrasing.
    2) Calling an instructor by their first name. I'm not sure I can understand the problem here. If I hire a plumber, do I have to address him by some weird title, or can I simply call him by his first name? Why is it different if I hire a teacher? Does the teacher address the students as Master/Mist

    • if you want my respect, earn it, don't demand it

      So you start out calling people by their first name, then gradually start calling them by their title over time?

      • by green1 ( 322787 )

        Calling someone by a title doesn't indicate respect, it indicates obedience.

        I don't demand that others call me by a title. And I've never requested it of my students either, but then again, I teach in a professional setting where we assume people are adults and don't use childish tricks like this to make them "prove it" to us.

    • It's called respect and proper etiquette. Look it up sometime.
      • by green1 ( 322787 )

        No, using a title doesn't show respect, it shows obedience. And "etiquette" was long ago ignored by those very same institutions.

        As for "Look it up sometime", I'm pretty sure I see neither respect nor etiquette in your response, so it seems rather ironic that you'd be defending it.

    • by sjames ( 1099 )

      OTOH, "the" is properly spelled with thorn (the letter of the alphabet). But some young wags started spelling it with "th" or sometimes "y". Note it is still correctly pronounced as "the", not "yee". The latter is a word (spelled "ye" now but once spelled "ge") that has fallen entirely out of favor except in a few very formal and somewhat ritualistic settings.

      Of course, formal writing generally should avoid the latest trends, yet it would be quite confusing (and annoying) if it insisted on Middle English. T

  • Teacher Truth Bomb (Score:3, Informative)

    by PopeRatzo ( 965947 ) on Monday May 15, 2017 @02:51PM (#54421047) Journal

    Look to your left. Now look to your right. None of you are going to have jobs after you graduate, and you'll each be in debt for a couple of hundred grand. So it doesn't matter how you fucking address the fucking professor. You're still gonna be fucked.

  • by roc97007 ( 608802 ) on Monday May 15, 2017 @02:57PM (#54421095) Journal

    > They just don't know they should do otherwise -- no one has bothered to explain it to them.

    Or, their parents have explained it to them, like, a bazillion times, and they just roll their eyes and do whatever the hell they were going to do anyway.

  • by nomadic ( 141991 )

    I was in college in the mid-90's and forms of address were part of departmental culture. For one of my majors, we addressed professors by their first name. The other, "Professor." My students now call me either by my first name or Professor, and I don't particularly care which. Academics who need the social validation are not particularly charming (the worst are PhDs who insist on being called "Dr." in their off-campus lives).

  • Well blame boomers. They didn't want to raise their children. They didn't instill the bullshit Victorian upper class ass kissing. Now they can deal with it.
  • Do the professors and instructors address the students as Mr. or Ms. Student ? Show the respect you demand and you will often find the respect you deserve. My advisors always addressed me as Sir or Mr. except in the most informal of circumstances. In the later years we were on a first name basis outside of campus but always a formal basis in class, lecture or lab.

  • I am a university professor. I prefer that my students address me as "Dr." or "Professor", BUT I address them as "Mr." or "Ms." (or "Mrs." in the case of a female married student who reveals that she is married.) It goes both ways. I find that the formality helps the students to take the class a little more seriously.
  • by Cro Magnon ( 467622 ) on Monday May 15, 2017 @03:34PM (#54421531) Homepage Journal

    My teacher introduced himself as "Professor Blank", so I called him that. OTOH, I had no problem with him calling me by my first name. I never really thought of myself as a "Mr. Magnon" anyway.

  • by ErichTheRed ( 39327 ) on Monday May 15, 2017 @04:09PM (#54421881)

    I know it's fashionable to have flat, zero-hierarchy organizations and brief communications styles, but I can tell you from 20+ years of working, clear spoken and written communication is not some irrelevant concept from a bygone age. I'm not one of those people who demands respect simply because of a rank or power dynamic, but I will have a lot more respect for someone who addresses others politely, states their opinions like adults, listens to others' points of view, and can write clearly. It also works both ways -- in my experience I have been able to get much further in having people see things my way than colleagues with more abrupt communication styles.

    I am firmly in the introvert crowd, and not a salesy type in the least. But, no matter how introverted you are, learning a few common social courtesies is critical to being successful in any setting. I'm not even talking about ladder-climbing brown-nosing style success -- I know part of the reason I'm kept around and allowed to do interesting technical work is that my bosses know I'll make them look good and be professional; in short, they don't have to worry I'll say something stupid.

Good salesmen and good repairmen will never go hungry. -- R.E. Schenk

Working...