Understanding Your Professor

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Each year Beloit College publishes a new list of things to keep in mind when dealing with incoming freshmen.  The list provides some inside to the experiences of these new students.  This year’s list for the Class of 2021 is here.  The list was designed to help faculty learn to adapt their teaching to the perspectives of their new students.  In other words, do not use examples from a time before these students lived unless you want to explain them.

In that spirit, here is a list created by Robert Scherrer at Inside Higher Ed about the typical 50-something professor.  So, if you you would like some insight into your professor, take a look at what his/her college years were like as described in his list.  It might give you some perspective into their way of thinking.

After reading the list, let us know what you think.

Here are the top 10 items:

  1. There was only one computer on campus. It was called “the computer.”
  2. The computer administrators knew everyone’s password.
  3. The computer crashed sporadically for no apparent reason. When it went down, everyone was out of luck.
  4. There was only one phone company. It was called “the phone company.”
  5. The phone company charged exorbitant rates for long-distance calls, so students saved money by calling home after 11 p.m. or on weekends.
  6. Roommates shared a single phone provided with their room. It was connected by a cable to an outlet in the wall. The phone couldn’t talk.
  7. The phone came with a phone book that listed telephone numbers, although most students memorized the numbers of their friends and relatives.
  8. A student who was not in their room was impossible to reach on the phone.
  9. Those who couldn’t afford to phone home could write letters, a precursor to email. These were hand delivered and took two to four days to arrive.
  10. Booking a flight home required the services of an oracle called a travel agent, who alone had access to the inscrutable airline flight schedules.

The rest of the list is here.

Rick W. Burkett runs the John A. Logan College Teaching and Learning Center, teaches history, heads runs an educational nonprofit. He publishes blogs on a wide variety of topics, including history, teaching and learning, student success, and teaching online.

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