Dangerous Liaison ~ BitterSweetLife

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Dangerous Liaison

Chatting with your professors is a chancy thing. Last semester I occasionally queried one of my favorite professors on various topics, until I began to suspect that he suspected me of currying favor. At that point it became a vicious cycle of suspicion—me suspecting that he might be suspecting that I was suspecting something of him. I pretty much gave it up.

Today I made a brief overture toward one of my current profs whom I especially like. At the end of the hour, I asked, regarding a fairly heavyweight 364-page book he’d assigned, “Now, are you going to cover this extensively in class?” It was meant to be tongue in cheek. However, I failed to make this clear (Lindsay tells me I need to be more dramatic with my sarcasm), and so my professor responded with a helpful outline of his textbook policy (he assigns extensive readings to ease his conscience about the things we won’t get to in class, but he will deal briefly with several of the models the book covers). Fair enough.

Then I made a comment about wanting to know because my prayer life has been up and down, totally confused since I started this book (Providence and Prayer) and I no longer know what to think about anything. Fortunately, he picked up on my facetiousness there, and said, Well, he was sorry about that. He was just glad he didn’t have to read that book again. The whole semester would probably be rough in that regard, but good luck.

Relieved that my humor had been duly noted, I called it a draw and retreated. You end up admiring some of your teachers, but interaction with them tends to be risky.

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Andrew Simone said...

In my undergrad I avoided, almost at all cost, my Profs. It was not until senior year that I got to know any of them.

It is more a fault than a virtue but I value intellectual honesty (=standing on one's own feet) so highly that I fear any form of discipleship. You can see how this may be a problem for Christian. That problem, however, is another discussion.

tim said...

If you get really spend time getting to know your professors and develop a genuine relationship with them than suspicions will fade. Of course that sort of relationship can be hard to develop...

Camille said...

I had some of the most amazing teachers in art school-- they reached out to me, which always blew my mind, because I saw myself as this talentless poseur with nothing but a lot of enthusiasm. They took me out for lunch, drove me home after late classes, seemed deeply concerned about my adolescent drama and shared amazing wisdom with me.

If I were to go back, I'd cultivate those relationships even more. College professors are ready made kindred spirits (assuming, of course, that they are in fields that you are interested in) and your profile says your are 26, you probably have plenty to offer them in the way of a relationship. Go for it!

Ariel said...

I think I feel duly chastened and re-motivated to actually talk with my profs. That being said, I still haven't quite figured out the dynamics of this interaction. "Genuine relationship" with my teachers is attractive but elusive. Seems like there's a limit to how well you can really know someone in the classroom setting. I'll keep after it though.

If only my professors were hoops aficianados.

Camille, I'm envious of your art school experience. Sounds amazing. I like this thought - "College professors are ready made kindred spirits" - and I think I'll put your premise to the test.

J said...

I think developing genuine relationships with professors is a great thing. Or at least, it's been enormously enriching to me.

So far, I only have one such relationship, with a professor who thinks totally opposite of the way I think (I'm a Christian at a state university, and my professor is an atheist). Despite our differences, though, we have had many wonderful conversations, mostly about worldview issues. I have learned an incredible amount from the exchange, and I think it's been an excellent way to build a small bridge between the Christian and non-Christian communities.


Culture. Photos. Life's nagging questions. - BitterSweetLife