Friday, September 10, 2010

Defining the "job" of a professor

Interesting conversation on our way to school this morning. Friday means neuroanatomy, and neuroanatomy means 2 hours of lecture followed immediately by 2 hours of lab. Who is the lovely soul who gets to preside over the entire class of first years for 4 consecutive hours? Let's call her Pia Mater. No one would envy her her task...neuroanatomy is a notoriously difficult course, and P. Mater has exactly 28 hours of lecture and lab to build us a foundation that will support our future endeavors in the neurology course and clinical rotation. The conversation this morning stemmed from an interaction, via email, that one of my housemates had with P. Mater. Housemate had emailed P. Mater with a question, which P. Mater had answered with the suggestion to investigate some further sources. Housemate contended that P. Mater was shirking responsibility to reply as she did, and this is what sparked our conversation. Are we, as students paying tuition, customers? Do we employ our professors? I cannot subscribe to this mindset. I believe we pay tuition for the privilege of studying under and learning from the professors employed by a college. Learning is not meant to be passive. It is not the "job" of a professor to ensure her students' success, especially at the graduate and professional level. This gets right back to my belief that as vet students, we are truly students first. To matriculate in this program is to have some love of learning for learning's sake. If you don't enjoy the pursuit, it's going to be a long four years. Learning how to learn is equally important for this career. Not every case fits neatly into the flow charts and dichotomous keys of Ettinger's Veterinary Internal Medicine. Practicing the skills that allow us to dig up information when we're not even quite sure what we're looking for, or where to look for it, is an investment that will pay dividends down the road. This was one of those conversations where my reaction was in the form of a very strong conviction, which, at the time, I had a very hard time articulating.

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