professorial ethics and boundaries

| 11 Comments | 11 TrackBacks

Elouise and George have written a bit lately on the issue of students reading professorial blogs, and on professor/student relationships generally.

Like Chuck (who commented on Elouise's post), I find that I'm not entirely comfortable discussing this topic in a forum where I know that students are regular readers and participants. I think, however, that there's real value in a community of colleagues discussing these questions.

So, I thought I might set up a private forum somewhere (where? I don't know. I'd love an alternative to Yahoo! Groups for mailing list or forum capability, but I don't know of a good one off the top of my head) for this discussion. If you're interested, let me know (ell/at/mail/dot/rit/dot/edu), and I'll "include you in."

11 TrackBacks

Posted by The Happy Tutor Just this -- the gesture -- We professors cannot discuss the students when the students are present. Read More

As Elouise has just posted while I write this entry, it seems that what started as relatively innocent thoughts on blogs by Elouize and >Liz (as well as a comment by Chuck in Elouise's blog) have led to some rather... Read More

The Fire Eater from Wealth Bondage on August 30, 2003 6:32 PM

Posted by The Happy Tutor Homage to H. Read More

Ouch. from Planned Obsolescence on August 30, 2003 6:35 PM

I've been away for a bit (as those of you reading this -- and I quote -- "US person's boring memoirs about his travel trips" (ahem) already know), and since I've been back, I've been caught in the thick of semester start-up: first-year advising, gradin... Read More

Social Capital from Wealth Bondage on September 1, 2003 1:48 PM

Posted by The Happy Tutor Read More

After a few days, I've taken a look back over the dust-up in the comments at the Wealth Bondage thread responding to Liz Lawley's post about professorial ethics and boundaries. And I wonder: what the hell got into me?... Read More

Gated Communities from this Public Address 3.0 on September 5, 2003 4:39 PM

Gated Communities There were several fascinating conversations I wish I would have had time to respond to while I was... Read More

I find it quite pathetic that I'm letting my blog go to waste day by day due to my lack of activity. If I could muster up something to talk about, I would. However, I don't feel like typing for... Read More

[A word to the wise: what follows is twice as long as it ought to be, and very rambly. I'm operating on three nights in a row of three hours of sleep, and am correspondingly stupid beyond belief.] I've expended a tremendous amount of energy over the la... Read More

George H. Williams has started to explore the idea of some sort of on-line mechanism to share teaching resources (a... Read More

what you reveal about yourself from thanks for not being a zombie on December 13, 2004 1:16 AM

As Elouise has just posted while I write this entry, it seems that what started as relatively innocent thoughts on blogs by Elouize and Liz (as well as a comment by Chuck in Elouise's blog) have led to some rather... Read More


QuickTopic has a great set of tools for this

Interested. Actually started a long-drawn out response. Cut it back to "I'm in!"

Count me in, please.

i'd be happy to set up a mailman list for this on my listserver at the cddc.

I'd be interested in the participating in the private discussion, primarily because I am clueless as to what is potentiallly discomforting about discussing it this one. (And suspect I should get a clue pronto).

Actually, I'd be very interested in students' perceptions about the subject. Carlo speaks well for his peeps in the comment to my entry.

There may be professor/student topics which are not appropriate for a mixed discussion, since potentially there could be students participating without a maturity level to handle such discussion -- then again, I've met some students with a perceived maturity greater than some professors. After all, this is a higher learning environment.

Being a returning student to RIT after some years as a professional software engineer, I feel that there are some advantages, as well as some disadvantages, to the current state of professor/student relationships in the IT department and would very much like to participate in discussions of this nature. If such a future discussion warrants some student input, please feel free to solicit my feedback, for I may have some valuable perspectives to share from my experiences thus far.

Count me in, too.

Ironic juxtaposition of this post with the preceding one re. control freakage. College students have almost all reached the age of majority... draftable, marriageable, drinkable, thinkable... the issues of professional work product certainly affect them... the issues of managed communications certainly affect them... the complex issues of pedagogy and interpersonal relationships must affect them... why would one exclude them from the conversation in the 21st century? Perhaps the weight of collegial consensus and tradition is too much to bear in a search for light in this dark corner of university life? Would one risk tenure by speaking one's truth?
Frank Paynter


Would love to see this evolve into a more general discussion of bounded speech communities, and the disruption caused by the two-way peer to peer conversation of blogging.

In management, each manager beneath a manager meets as a group to build lateral ties as a "management team," and to discuss subordinates behind closed doors. The manager of managers is himself or herself a subordinate, and so it goes, all the way up the hierarchy.

A level is defined by who talks to whom with full information, and who is kept relatively in the dark. Access and information is power. (I can read my subordinate personnel file, they can't read mine. I know their pay; they don't know mine.) To restrict access, to get our act together behind closed doors, to develop the party line and then all enforce it, to maintain subordination by restricting and mangaging information flows, all that is very corporate. And probably necessary.

If subordinates starting listening in on higher level staff meetings, the meetings would be moved off site.

"Come in -- and shut the door!" Music to the upwardly mobile flunky's ears. It means he or she has arrived at an inner sanctum where the good stuff will be discussed, as the subordinates go by and peek through the glass panes beside the door frames.

Social software needs doors, no? And glass panes to build the sense of comraderie among insiders and a sense of privation among outsiders?

To have power is good, to have your subordinates know you have it, and for them to be reminded of it constantly, that is very heaven.

Err -- even after HT’s intervention, I suppose I’d like to be counted in, too.

I rather expected I'd get some flak over this. I'm okay with that. Doesn't change the fact that I still want to have the discussion privately, at least to start with.

Yes, of course there are power issues. But that's part of the problem. Whether these discussions are public or private, the nature of the professor's job is to wield power. We sit in judgment. Is the work good enough? Have you earned the grade you desire?

Managers have that burden, as well, obviously. One of the reasons I have resisted management responsibilities--and will continue to do so--is that I believe that taking them on would create a boundary between me and my current peers. I don't want to be writing performance evaluations, or deciding salary increments, for people I now consider close friends. Once that power imbalance exists, no amount of shared beers or personal confidences will make the walls go away.

Frank, I'm already tenured, so that's not an issue for me. However, I probably wouldn't have posted the previous "control freak" entry, or this one, if I weren't tenured. Yes, I held my tongue and refused to speak many truths during the years between my mid-tenure and tenure reviews. But that's a different topic.

The boundaries I'm talking about here aren't imposed externally for me...they're definitely an internally generated artifact. Worth exploring, I think, and worth questioning. But I simply don't feel comfortable yet doing that publicly.

At any rate, that's all I have to say on the subject in this forum for the time being. Elouise and others may well continue the discussion on her blog.




Recent Photos
This is a Flickr badge showing public photos and videos from mamamusings. Make your own badge here.

Upcoming Travel

Creative Commons License
This blog is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Liz Lawley published on August 27, 2003 5:19 PM.

control freak was the previous entry in this blog.

tonight's soundtrack is the next entry in this blog.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.