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Sunday, May 17, 2015

The Changing Role of the Professor

"To the Editor:
Re What’s the Point of a Professor?,” by Mark Bauerlein (Sunday Review, May 10):

College students need not revere professors, and I am very glad that they do not want to become our disciples." according to Glenn Sklarin, Professor in the Philosophy department at St. John's University, Jamaica, NY.

Stina Löfgren NY-Times-op-ed

Students have many sources of knowledge and are free to come to my office for advice. I encourage that. But most of my students have jobs; many of them are also breadwinners for their families.

Those idyllic ’60s that the writer mentions are very different from today. We should not talk about the role of professors without mentioning that about three-quarters of current professors are part-time (adjunct) faculty who do not have the time or the resources to leave their door open and require students to come to their office hours. At best they have shared offices; at worst they need to run to their next class, often at a different campus. Class sizes are also larger than ever, making one-on-one contact even harder...

New York
The writer is a rising senior at Barnard College.

To the Editor:
Mark Bauerlein accurately defines the state of faculty-student relationships in higher education today. Teaching a required course in introductory philosophy each semester to a classroom filled with tweeting, texting-obsessed young minds is an Olympian challenge, which I find both exhausting and exhilarating.

Why the latter? Well, in every class, I discover a small group of students who are taken with my pitch that I am not there just to impart the wisdom of Plato and Aristotle, but, rather, to engage them in self-reflection, to refine their communication skills, and to assure them that the next 50 years of their working and personal lives will require these talents if they are to have meaning and value.

Somehow, I manage to reach some of them, and that alone provides the impetus and inspiration to look forward to the next semester.
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Source: New York Times