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Old May 9 2013, 11:28 AM   #61
Sigokat
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Re: "Doctor" - MDs vs PhDs

When I first got to my unit here in Afghanistan (in my career field we deploy as individuals to already established offices/centers) there was a female that they put me in the office with who had a Doctorate. She INSISTED everyone call her Doctor and if you didn't she took it as a slight or offense.

Fine. She earned the degree (it wasin Public Administration), but what got to me was while she wanted that level of professionalism she always referred to me as "Major K" because for her my last name was too hard to pronouce (and for the record its not hard to pronounce, its pronouced exactly as it is spelled). And sometimes she would call me "Captain K" and when I would correct her error the excuse was "Oh we used to have a Capatin K here before you got here." Well, if you would call me by my full name you wouldn't have that problem!!

So to me its respect is a two way street. Just as she worked hard for her Doctorate, I've worked just as hard for my accomplishments and earning the rank of Major.
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Old May 9 2013, 02:44 PM   #62
Tora Ziyal
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Re: "Doctor" - MDs vs PhDs

Kestra wrote: View Post
It's a cultural thing for me, to an extent. I think of it as showing respect by maintaining that formality. We don't call elders by their names in my culture; I very rarely call my older siblings by their first names.
I find it interesting to watch how and to whom different cultures show respect.

When I taught GED, everyone -- students and teachers -- went by first names. But the African American teachers always addressed the few older students (older than the teachers themselves, I mean) as Miss Firstname.

When I worked in an ESL program, elderly Korean students would bow to me, the much younger teacher, when they were leaving the classroom. Apparently, to them, my role trumped their age.
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Old May 9 2013, 03:53 PM   #63
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Re: "Doctor" - MDs vs PhDs

RoJoHen wrote: View Post
And this is the part that I just don't get. "Levels of familiarity."

I have a name. Whether I'm your spouse, your best friend, your boss, your professor, your neighbor, or a complete stranger, I still have the same name. Respect is not determined by what you call me; it's determined by how you treat me.

I could be the ultimate Supreme King of the Universe, and I'd still just want my subjects to call me by my first name.
Well, that's nice for you, but is it realistic? Spouses, friends, neighbors aren't under your authority. Even if you deigned to allow your subjects or students call you by your first name, you're still in a position of authority over them. Pretending that you're all friends by calling each other by your first names will make asserting authority more difficult when it is time to do so. At least, that's my thinking.

My peers, my friends, and my family call me by my first name. My students are not in any of those categories. I am not their friend, and won't pretend to be. I'll be friendly, but I won't be their friend. As such, I need some way to distinguish myself from them.

If I pretend to be their friend by letting them call me by my first name, the students may get the impression that I'm willing to cut them some slack, let assignments come in late, give them "extra credit" when their grades are low, and generally be their pal and help them out. I used to do so when I was a grad student teaching assistant, because the students were my friends.

Well, the fact is I'm outnumbered now. I won't be able to give the same laboratory exercise multiple times for the students that missed it or messed it up. I won't be able to tutor them one-on-one into the early morning to make sure they understand the material on the next exam. They have to understand that I'm the professor, and they're the students, and that there is a distance between us. Right now the best way I can think of is to not let them use my first name, but instead address me as Dr. P, or Professor P. Maybe after I'm comfortably settled in my department and more familiar with the student body in general, I'll change.

These undergrads will have likely been calling their teachers "Mr./Mrs./Miss Lastname" for their whole lives. Calling me Professor or Doctor shouldn't be a shock for them. Besides, I'll be doing so in a completely professional situation, as I doubt I'll be seeing any of these students in social situations. When I'm on campus, I'm in a professional situation, and I won't be going to parties off-campus, so I don't expect to run into these kids in social situations.

Sigokat wrote: View Post
... Well, if you would call me by my full name you wouldn't have that problem!!
Of course colleagues should be addressing each other by first names; I've always done so. But would you expect the service members under your authority to be so familiar with you?
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Old May 9 2013, 04:03 PM   #64
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Re: "Doctor" - MDs vs PhDs

Tora Ziyal wrote: View Post
Kestra wrote: View Post
It's a cultural thing for me, to an extent. I think of it as showing respect by maintaining that formality. We don't call elders by their names in my culture; I very rarely call my older siblings by their first names.
I find it interesting to watch how and to whom different cultures show respect.

When I taught GED, everyone -- students and teachers -- went by first names. But the African American teachers always addressed the few older students (older than the teachers themselves, I mean) as Miss Firstname.

When I worked in an ESL program, elderly Korean students would bow to me, the much younger teacher, when they were leaving the classroom. Apparently, to them, my role trumped their age.
Yeah, it's not always strictly about age. For example my brother-in-law is actually younger than me, but since he is married to my older sister, he's supposed to be treated as though he is older than me as well. I tend to use titles with anyone in a professional role unless explicitly told not to. It just feels more respectful to me.
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Old May 9 2013, 04:58 PM   #65
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Re: "Doctor" - MDs vs PhDs

Pavonis wrote: View Post
My peers, my friends, and my family call me by my first name. My students are not in any of those categories. I am not their friend, and won't pretend to be. I'll be friendly, but I won't be their friend. As such, I need some way to distinguish myself from them.
That sounds reasonable to me. We were never matey or on first name terms with any of the lecturers and tutors when I was at uni. That would have been just weird. (I guess it can be different in the world of postgrad studies).
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Old May 9 2013, 05:37 PM   #66
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Re: "Doctor" - MDs vs PhDs

Tora Ziyal wrote: View Post

When I taught GED, everyone -- students and teachers -- went by first names. But the African American teachers always addressed the few older students (older than the teachers themselves, I mean) as Miss Firstname.
In the US, addressing a woman as "Miss Firstname" seems to be a particularly Southern thing.
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Old May 9 2013, 05:55 PM   #67
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Re: "Doctor" - MDs vs PhDs

Kestra wrote: View Post
It's a cultural thing for me, to an extent. I think of it as showing respect by maintaining that formality. We don't call elders by their names in my culture; I very rarely call my older siblings by their first names.
I have to ask, how do you address your older siblings?

scotpens wrote: View Post
Tora Ziyal wrote: View Post

When I taught GED, everyone -- students and teachers -- went by first names. But the African American teachers always addressed the few older students (older than the teachers themselves, I mean) as Miss Firstname.
In the US, addressing a woman as "Miss Firstname" seems to be a particularly Southern thing.
I can't disagree there. All of the teachers in my youngest's daycare are addressed as Miss Firstname. Also, our family is really close to another family, and the level of familiarity is such that it doesn't seem quite right for the kids to address the others' parents as Mrs. Lastname, so we go with Miss Firstname. Seems to me that it's closer to how you'd address an Aunt or Uncle, except they're not relatives.
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Old May 9 2013, 06:00 PM   #68
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Re: "Doctor" - MDs vs PhDs

Pavonis wrote: View Post
RoJoHen wrote: View Post
And this is the part that I just don't get. "Levels of familiarity."

I have a name. Whether I'm your spouse, your best friend, your boss, your professor, your neighbor, or a complete stranger, I still have the same name. Respect is not determined by what you call me; it's determined by how you treat me.

I could be the ultimate Supreme King of the Universe, and I'd still just want my subjects to call me by my first name.
Well, that's nice for you, but is it realistic? Spouses, friends, neighbors aren't under your authority. Even if you deigned to allow your subjects or students call you by your first name, you're still in a position of authority over them. Pretending that you're all friends by calling each other by your first names will make asserting authority more difficult when it is time to do so. At least, that's my thinking.

My peers, my friends, and my family call me by my first name. My students are not in any of those categories. I am not their friend, and won't pretend to be. I'll be friendly, but I won't be their friend. As such, I need some way to distinguish myself from them.

If I pretend to be their friend by letting them call me by my first name, the students may get the impression that I'm willing to cut them some slack, let assignments come in late, give them "extra credit" when their grades are low, and generally be their pal and help them out. I used to do so when I was a grad student teaching assistant, because the students were my friends.

Well, the fact is I'm outnumbered now. I won't be able to give the same laboratory exercise multiple times for the students that missed it or messed it up. I won't be able to tutor them one-on-one into the early morning to make sure they understand the material on the next exam. They have to understand that I'm the professor, and they're the students, and that there is a distance between us. Right now the best way I can think of is to not let them use my first name, but instead address me as Dr. P, or Professor P. Maybe after I'm comfortably settled in my department and more familiar with the student body in general, I'll change.

These undergrads will have likely been calling their teachers "Mr./Mrs./Miss Lastname" for their whole lives. Calling me Professor or Doctor shouldn't be a shock for them. Besides, I'll be doing so in a completely professional situation, as I doubt I'll be seeing any of these students in social situations. When I'm on campus, I'm in a professional situation, and I won't be going to parties off-campus, so I don't expect to run into these kids in social situations.

Sigokat wrote: View Post
... Well, if you would call me by my full name you wouldn't have that problem!!
Of course colleagues should be addressing each other by first names; I've always done so. But would you expect the service members under your authority to be so familiar with you?
While I can understand that you prefer to be addressed as Professor or Dr., I think you're placing way too much emphasis on authority and title here. I mean I can understand certain individuals being addressed as Reverend Jackson, Pope Francis, Mr. President, or Your Majesty. Calling prestige to oneself by insisting on formal titles can seem pretentious and self-important.

A long time ago, I used to work for a manager with a Ph.D., but he didn't demand that people call him "Dr. Smith," though most referred to him as "Mr. Smith." Where I work, supervisors, division managers, department directors, even the freakin' General Manager, are addressed by their first name. It doesn't matter if they've got a bachelor's or a doctorate.
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Old May 9 2013, 06:53 PM   #69
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Re: "Doctor" - MDs vs PhDs

Gryffindorian wrote: View Post
While I can understand that you prefer to be addressed as Professor or Dr., I think you're placing way too much emphasis on authority and title here. I mean I can understand certain individuals being addressed as Reverend Jackson, Pope Francis, Mr. President, or Your Majesty. Calling prestige to oneself by insisting on formal titles can seem pretentious and self-important.
Perhaps I am. We'll see what happens when I start teaching.

And yet, "pretentious" has been used repeatedly in the thread to describe the use of titles, but pretentious means "attempting to impress by affecting greater importance, talent, culture, etc., than is actually possessed", and that is not what I'm doing. I actually do possess more importance and talent than the students I'm teaching. That's why I'm the teacher.

If one student doesn't show up for the class, I'll still hold a lecture for the rest of them. If I don't show up for class, though, there is no lecture. My absence counts for more than any one student's absence. They'd all have to skip class for it to have the same impact as my absence.

I understand physics; the students do not. That's why they're taking the class from me and not the other way around. Therefore I'm pretty important, as far the students are concerned. So I don't think pretentious is quite the right word.
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Old May 9 2013, 08:01 PM   #70
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Re: "Doctor" - MDs vs PhDs

Pavonis wrote: View Post
RoJoHen wrote: View Post
And this is the part that I just don't get. "Levels of familiarity."

I have a name. Whether I'm your spouse, your best friend, your boss, your professor, your neighbor, or a complete stranger, I still have the same name. Respect is not determined by what you call me; it's determined by how you treat me.

I could be the ultimate Supreme King of the Universe, and I'd still just want my subjects to call me by my first name.
Well, that's nice for you, but is it realistic? Spouses, friends, neighbors aren't under your authority. Even if you deigned to allow your subjects or students call you by your first name, you're still in a position of authority over them. Pretending that you're all friends by calling each other by your first names will make asserting authority more difficult when it is time to do so. At least, that's my thinking.
Underlined for emphasis...

This is the part I have a problem with. Just because we use first names doesn't mean we're friends. I'm not pretending anything. I can be your boss or teacher or authority figure without needing to be addressed by title. I don't think your authority is diminished by allowing students to call you by your first name.

You will have inherent authority just by standing up in front of the classroom. The students know you're their teacher, regardless of what they call you.

Now, I'm not saying you shouldn't use a title. I just think you're completely overestimating your title's importance with regard to social interaction. You're a human being; what do you want to be called?
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Old May 9 2013, 08:04 PM   #71
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Re: "Doctor" - MDs vs PhDs

Pavonis wrote: View Post
Gryffindorian wrote: View Post
While I can understand that you prefer to be addressed as Professor or Dr., I think you're placing way too much emphasis on authority and title here. I mean I can understand certain individuals being addressed as Reverend Jackson, Pope Francis, Mr. President, or Your Majesty. Calling prestige to oneself by insisting on formal titles can seem pretentious and self-important.
Perhaps I am. We'll see what happens when I start teaching.

And yet, "pretentious" has been used repeatedly in the thread to describe the use of titles, but pretentious means "attempting to impress by affecting greater importance, talent, culture, etc., than is actually possessed", and that is not what I'm doing. I actually do possess more importance and talent than the students I'm teaching. That's why I'm the teacher.

If one student doesn't show up for the class, I'll still hold a lecture for the rest of them. If I don't show up for class, though, there is no lecture. My absence counts for more than any one student's absence. They'd all have to skip class for it to have the same impact as my absence.

I understand physics; the students do not. That's why they're taking the class from me and not the other way around. Therefore I'm pretty important, as far the students are concerned. So I don't think pretentious is quite the right word.
Yes, obviously the professor is a very important part of taking a class. But what does this have to do with their title? You could insist that your students call you Senorita Buttface; you're still the one in charge of their grades.

For what it's worth, though, the college professors that I had that tried to exude a little less authority were the ones that were better teachers. Some professors try too hard to distance themselves, and those are the ones that I had a hard time learning from. They seemed more interested in their own knowledge of the material than in helping us learn about it. There is something to be said for occasionally bringing yourself down to your students' level.
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Old May 9 2013, 08:12 PM   #72
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Re: "Doctor" - MDs vs PhDs

Pavonis wrote: View Post
Gryffindorian wrote: View Post
While I can understand that you prefer to be addressed as Professor or Dr., I think you're placing way too much emphasis on authority and title here. I mean I can understand certain individuals being addressed as Reverend Jackson, Pope Francis, Mr. President, or Your Majesty. Calling prestige to oneself by insisting on formal titles can seem pretentious and self-important.
Perhaps I am. We'll see what happens when I start teaching.

And yet, "pretentious" has been used repeatedly in the thread to describe the use of titles, but pretentious means "attempting to impress by affecting greater importance, talent, culture, etc., than is actually possessed", and that is not what I'm doing. I actually do possess more importance and talent than the students I'm teaching. That's why I'm the teacher.

If one student doesn't show up for the class, I'll still hold a lecture for the rest of them. If I don't show up for class, though, there is no lecture. My absence counts for more than any one student's absence. They'd all have to skip class for it to have the same impact as my absence.

I understand physics; the students do not. That's why they're taking the class from me and not the other way around. Therefore I'm pretty important, as far the students are concerned. So I don't think pretentious is quite the right word.
To be honest, it sounds like you would be happier as a school teacher than an academic, your passive aggressive commentary here sounds like you need a level of structure and control that is beyond any university I have worked in - I also like the implied claim that you know everything and your students know nothing - wish I could say the same.
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Old May 9 2013, 08:30 PM   #73
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Re: "Doctor" - MDs vs PhDs

Well, we'll see what unfolds. I am an academic. I've spent most of my career at a lab bench, doing research with only a bit of teaching on the side. We'll see how my first semester of intensive teaching (with research on the side) goes.

When it comes to teaching at a university level, don't students want confident professors who know the subject well rather than grad student TAs who were just recently students in the same course themselves? Should I pretend to be insecure to put the students at ease? I do know more about physics then they do. It's not an insult to them, it's just a fact. Teaching isn't about me bragging how much I know about, it's about passing my understanding on to them. If I didn't know the subject, why would I be teaching it? And if the students knew the subject as well as I do, why would they be taking the class?
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Old May 9 2013, 08:43 PM   #74
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Re: "Doctor" - MDs vs PhDs

Pavonis wrote: View Post
When it comes to teaching at a university level, don't students want confident professors who know the subject well
Confidence is fine. Just don't be cocky about it.

Unfortunately, I've found that a lot of college professors are absolutely terrible teachers. They may be experts in their field, but they have absolutely no idea how to explain things to others. One of my absolute best teachers in college was my Statistics professor. She was incredibly intelligent, but she understood that most of the students in her class had never done anything with Statistics before. She always had multiple ways of explaining the same thing; if one example didn't click with her students, she had another example ready to go. She didn't lecture; she taught.
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Old May 9 2013, 09:06 PM   #75
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Re: "Doctor" - MDs vs PhDs

Unfortunately, university professors are not taught to teach. As grad students, we have to teach, but learn how on the fly. When research is the primary responsibility, teaching is a side activity.

Fortunately, my interview included a demo lecture, and I'm told the students liked my approach to the material and the numerous examples and concept reinforcements I included in the lecture. So that gives me some confidence that I won't be a terrible professor.
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