Stephanie Rosenbloom writes in The New York Times that professors are now using the web, either via social networking sites, blogs or personal webpages, to reveal information about themselves in the hopes of "becoming more human" in the eyes of students. And there's even a show on mtvu called "Professors Strike Back," which gives the maligned professors to refute the comments in RateMyProfessors.com.
The show has become more popular than the music premieres on that channel. Which only goes to show that for a lot of students, the thought that professors have lives beyond the classroom is almost unthinkable. Sam Gosling, psychologist and associate professor at the University of Texas at Austin, narrated an anecdote where a female student saw him in the street near the campus and looked absolutely horrified. "Like, ‘Wait a minute, you have a life?’ The idea that I would continue to exist — it was sort of a violation of her expectations.” Gosling goes further to say that students today think professors are not doing their jobs unless they convey information in zany, interactive ways.
Teaching has lost some of its god-on-the-podium status. To teach these days means also means to entertain. It's such a taxing demand, to relay information and to make like a talk show host at the same time. What matters is the ability to teach. But students seem to be under the impression that learning is like being part of a talk show audience. "Here we are now, entertain us," and if you fail to do so, you get comments on evaluations like, "Bring a pillow."I tend to agree with the article that this is an unfortunate trend, this need to know that your professor likes Project Runway or has climbed the rockface in Galera. Some are of the opinion that knowing these little things make for a more comfortable learning experience. Whether the "humanization" of professors come in the form of dishing out jokes or crazy anecdotes along the lines of "I have a life, too, you know" or posting more of the same in blogs or social networking sites, this need for transparency seems doubly unneccessary for me.
And yet, I'm posting this on my blog. So take everything with a grain of salt.