Family Magazine

Don't Call Me Doctor

By Melody S
At the beginning of every term, I introduce myself to my students, tell them a bit about myself and my research, and then stress that I would prefer that they call me Melody. Not Professor, not Miss, and certainly not Dr. Sorenson. I am not a Doctor, although I hope to be within the next year or so. I am also not a professor (although again, I hope to be very soon). For right now, I am just me.
Inevitably, especially in the beginning, some students will continue to call me Dr. Sorenson, and for whatever reason, it grates on me. I always hated having to refer to my undergraduate professors by such formal titles. It just felt so stuffy and pretentious that I would avoid addressing them it if at all possible, because I found it to be so awkward. In all seriousness, if I needed to speak to them, I would go up to the front of the class, or their office, or wherever they happened to be, and wait until they noticed me. All to avoid having to say the dreaded words "Dr" or "Professor". Ridiculous, really. However, I'm sure that I'm not the only one who finds these titles a bit silly. Are they necessary in order to gain the students' respect? I would hope not. I have yet to have a problem with disrespect in my classes, and nobody calls me doctor. Okay, some do, but I certainly don't endorse it. Do these titles promote and highlight an obvious power differential? Absolutely. I have complete control over my students' grades. I control the content and structure of the lectures and exams. I am the "expert" (I use this term VERY loosely) and they are the "novices" or the "learners". But is this really necessary? Would all hell break loose if we treated our students like equals? I think not. This isn't high school. We don't need to demand respect from students by requiring them to address us with silly titles.

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