Is there academic engagement, in the teaching and learning process, from professors? That appears to be a question.
In a discussion of why students are failing to engage in their undergraduate education, Thomas H. Benton wrote about a college junior who
recalled that she “really thought college would be an incredible experience. … I expected a series of heated debates in class, and meeting for coffee to discuss classroom topics. But all I hear is ‘I’m bored’ and ‘I just don’t care.'” A lot of students have worked extraordinarily hard to get into the “right” kind of college, only to wonder what all the hype was about. The common experience is that getting admitted is the most exhausting part. After that, the struggle mainly is financial. But at the major universities, most professors are too busy to care about individual students, and it is easy to become lost amid a sea of equally disenchanted undergraduates looking for some kind of purposeâ€”and not finding it.
Perhaps it is because I am not now, and have never been as anything except a graduate student where I taught undergraduate classes, at a research university, but I have not found that professors are “too busy to care about individual students.”
My undergraduate professors wrote long and glowing references for me to pursue graduate school. My dissertation director (ten years after the fact and five after her retirement) just wrote a foreword for my next book, immediately after her return from a six-month long honeymoon cruise. I have gotten input and feedback on presentations from professors at other colleges, some of whom I had worked with and others whom I never had… So I think that, at least at the levels where I work, the too-busy, unengaged professor is not an actuality.
Certainly there have been times when I have been too busy. Last week I told my son I couldn’t talk because I was writing the QEP proposal for my school’s SACS accreditation. But even then, I stopped what I was doing for students.
Am I really that rare a bird in academia? Am I the lone surviving dodo? I don’t think so.
Picture is John Tenniel’s illustration from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.