Professors Aren't Doing Their Jobs— and Students Aren't Asking Them To

English professor Mark Bauerlein sees the role of mentor fading
By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff
Posted May 11, 2015 11:54 AM CDT
Professors Aren't Doing Their Jobs— and Students Aren't Asking Them To
The student-professor relationship isn't what it once was, writes Mark Bauerlein.   (Shutterstock)

(Newser) – In 1967, when students were asked about their goals for college, 86% pointed to "developing a meaningful philosophy of life," while less than half as many said "being very well off financially." These days, 82% are interested in the latter, while just 45% take the "meaningful philosophy" approach. It's reflective of a new way of looking at college, in which professors act merely as teachers in the classroom and "accreditors" who provide (usually good) grades, rather than mentors and role models outside the classroom, writes Mark Bauerlein, an English professor himself, in the New York Times. But "it’s often during incidental conversations held after the bell rings and away from the demands of the syllabus that the transfer of insight begins and a student’s emulation grows."

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But 33% of freshmen say they never speak with professors outside the lecture hall, and 42% say they do so just "sometimes," Bauerlein notes. Seniors' numbers aren't very different. Bauerlein also cites personal experience: In the 1980s, he writes, students were lined up to reach professors' offices, while now, hardly any of the teachers' doors are open. Students "have no urge to become disciples," while professors, "pressed for research time, don't want them." Writes Bauerlein: "You can’t become a moral authority if you rarely challenge students in class and engage them beyond it. If we professors do not do that, the course is not an induction of eager minds into an enlarging vision. It is a requirement to fulfill." Click for the full piece. (Read more professor stories.)

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