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不要这样和你的教授说话

更新时间:2017-5-18 11:55:48 来源:纽约时报中文网 作者:佚名

U Can’t Talk to Ur Professor Like This
不要这样和你的教授说话

At the start of my teaching career, when I was fresh out of graduate school, I briefly considered trying to pass myself off as a cool professor. Luckily, I soon came to my senses and embraced my true identity as a young fogey.

刚从研究生院毕业开始教学生涯的时候,我曾经短暂地考虑过扮出一副酷教授的样子。幸好我很快清醒过来,接受了自己的真实身份——一个年轻的老顽固。

After one too many students called me by my first name and sent me email that resembled a drunken late-night Facebook post, I took a very fogeyish step. I began attaching a page on etiquette to every syllabus: basic rules for how to address teachers and write polite, grammatically correct emails.

很多学生对我直呼其名,发给我的电子邮件简直像是半夜发酒疯在Facebook上发的帖子,为此我采取了非常老派的做法。我开始在教学大纲里附上一页礼仪说明,其中讲了一些基本规则:如何称呼教师,如何书写一封彬彬有礼、语法正确的电子邮件。

Over the past decade or two, college students have become far more casual in their interactions with faculty members. My colleagues around the country grumble about students’ sloppy emails and blithe informality.

过去十年到二十年间,大学学生与教职员工的互动变得更加随意。我在全国各地的同行都在抱怨学生们草率的电子邮件,以及他们的漫不经心,不拘礼节。

Mark Tomforde, a math professor at the University of Houston who has been teaching for almost two decades, added etiquette guidelines to his website. “When students started calling me by my first name, I felt that was too far, and I’ve got to say something,” he told me. “There were also the emails written like text messages. Worse than the text abbreviations was the level of informality, with no address or signoff.”

休斯敦大学的数学教授马克·汤姆福德(Mark Tomforde)近二十年来一直在进行教学工作,他在自己的网站上增添了一份礼仪指南。他说:“当学生用名字而不是姓氏称呼我的时候,我觉得这太过分了,我必须得说些什么,”他告诉我。“还有写得像手机短信一样的电子邮件。比缩略语更糟糕的是不拘礼节的程度太严重,邮件里连抬头和署名也没有。”

His webpage covers matters ranging from appropriate email addresses (if you’re still using “cutie_pie_98@hotmail.com,” then “it’s time to retire that address”) to how to be gracious when making a request (“do not make demands”).

他的网页内容包括了方方面面,从使用适宜的电子邮件地址(如果你还在使用“cutie_pie_98@hotmail.com”这类地址,那么“现在该让它退休了”),到如何做出请求时显得客气有礼(如“不要对教授提要求”)。

Sociologists who surveyed undergraduate syllabuses from 2004 and 2010 found that in 2004, 14 percent addressed issues related to classroom etiquette; six years later, that number had more than doubled, to 33 percent. This phenomenon crosses socio-economic lines. My colleagues at Stanford gripe as much as the ones who teach at state schools, and students from more privileged backgrounds are often the worst offenders.

在一项对2004年至2010年本科教学大纲进行的研究中,社会学家发现,2004年的大纲中有14%的事项与课堂礼仪有关;六年后,这个数字翻了一番,达到了33%。这种现象跨越了社会与经济界限。我在斯坦福大学的同事们和州立院校的教师一样都在抱怨,拥有更多特权背景的学生犯的错误往往最为严重。

Why are so many teachers bent out of shape because a student fails to call them “Professor” or neglects to proofread an email? Are academics really that insecure? Is this just another case of scapegoating millennials for changes in the broader culture?

只因为学生没有把他们称为“教授”,或者在发出电子邮件之前没有检查一番,为什么会有这么多的老师大动肝火呢?大学教师的不安全感真有那么严重吗?这又是在拿千禧一代充当广泛文化领域内诸多变迁的替罪羊吗?

Don’t dismiss these calls for old-fashioned courtesy as a case of fragile ivory tower egos or misplaced nostalgia. There is a strong liberal case for using formal manners and titles to ensure respect for all university professionals, regardless of age, race or gender. More important, doing so helps defend the university’s dearest values at a time when they are under continual assault.

不要把对老式礼仪的呼吁贬低为一种象牙塔内脆弱的自尊心,抑或是什么错位的怀旧情结。使用正式的礼仪和头衔,尊重大学内任何年龄、种族与性别的所有专业人士,这是基于强烈的自由主义理由。更重要的是,在大学中最受珍视的价值观不断遭受攻击的时候,这样做有助于捍卫它们。

It’s true that the conventions that have, until recently, ruled higher education did not rule from time immemorial. Two centuries ago, students often rejected expectations of deference. In 1834, Harvard students rebelled when some of their classmates were punished for refusing to memorize their Latin textbook. They broke the windows of a teacher’s apartment and destroyed his furniture. When the president of the college cracked down and suspended the entire sophomore class, the juniors retaliated by hanging and burning him in effigy and setting off a rudimentary explosive in the campus chapel.

诚然,高等教育中通行的这些惯例不是自古就有的,而是直到前不久才确立下来的。两个世纪以前,学生们经常违背尊师重教的准则。1834年,在哈佛大学,一些学生因为拒绝背诵拉丁文课本而受到惩罚,学生们发起了反抗活动。他们打破一位老师公寓的窗户,砸毁了他的家具。大学校长出面镇压,让整个大二班级暂时停课,大三学生们为示报复,把校长的雕像吊起来焚烧,还在校园教堂里引燃了一个简陋的爆炸物。

Later in the 19th century, etiquette manuals proliferated in bookstores, and Americans began to emphasize elaborate social protocols. As colleges expanded and academic disciplines professionalized, they mimicked the hierarchical cultures of the German research universities, where students cowered before “Herr Professor Doktor.”

19世纪中后期,书店里礼仪手册猛增,美国人开始强调复杂的社交礼仪。随着大学扩张和学科专业化,它们开始效仿德国研究型大学的等级文化。在那些学校里,学生在“教授先生”面前缩成一团。

The historian John Kasson has noted that back then, formal etiquette was not aimed at ensuring respect for all. It was, in part, a system to enforce boundaries of race, class and gender at a time when the growth of cities and mass transit forced Americans into close quarters with strangers. Codes of behavior served “as checks against a fully democratic order and in support of special interests, institutions of privilege and structures of domination,” he writes in his book “Rudeness and Civility.”

历史学者约翰·卡森(John Kasson)指出,那时候,正式的礼仪不是为了确保所有人都受到尊重。在一个城市和公共交通的增长迫使美国人近距离接触陌生人的时代,它在一定程度上是一个划清种族、阶层和性别边界的体系。卡森在《粗鲁与礼貌》(Rudeness and Civility)一书中写道,行为规范“制约着一种完全民主的秩序,支持特殊利益、特权机构和统治结构”。

But today, on the other side of the civil rights revolution, formal titles and etiquette can be tools to protect disempowered minorities and ensure that the modern university belongs to all of us. Students seem more inclined to use casual forms of address with professors who are young, nonwhite and female — some of whom have responded by becoming vocal defenders of old-fashioned propriety.

但现在,在民权革命的另一面,正式的头衔和礼节可以被作为工具,用来保护力量被削弱的少数群体,并确保现代的大学属于我们所有人。学生似乎更倾向于用随意的称谓称呼年轻的非白人女性教授。对此,她们中部分人的反应是强烈捍卫老式礼节。

Angela Jackson-Brown, a professor of English at Ball State University in Muncie, Ind., told me that “most of my students will acknowledge that I’m the first and only black teacher they’ve ever had.” Insisting on her formal title is important, she said: “I feel the extra burden of having to go in from Day 1 and establish that I belong here.”

位于印第安纳州曼西的鲍尔州立大学(Ball State University)英语教授安哥拉·杰克逊-布朗(Angela Jackson-Brown)对我说,“我的大部分学生都会承认我是他们遇到的第一个,也是唯一一个黑人老师。”坚持自己的正式头衔很重要,她说:“我从第一天起就感受到了不得不坚持并证明我属于这里的额外负担。”

When Professor Jackson-Brown began teaching in the 1990s, most students respected her authority. But in recent years, that deference has waned (she blames the informality of social media). “I go out of my way now to not give them access to my first name,” she said. “On every syllabus, it states clearly: ‘Please address me as Professor Jackson-Brown.’ ”

杰克逊-布朗教授在90年代开始站上讲台时,大部分学生都尊重她的权威。但近年来,这种敬意变少了(她将其归咎于社交媒体的不拘礼节)。“我特意不让他们有机会叫我的名字,”她说。“每份大纲上都清楚地规定了:‘请叫我杰克逊-布朗教授’”。

She linked this policy to the atmosphere of mutual respect that she cultivates in her classes. These days, simply being considerate can feel like a political act. “After this recent election, I’ve had several female students come to me and say, ‘I’m noticing differences in how men are treating me.’ It’s heartbreaking,” she said. “We’re trying to set standards for them that they may not see outside the classroom, places where you’d think there would be decorum.”

她把这个规矩和她在课堂上培养的那种相互尊重的氛围联系在了一起。如今,仅仅是体贴周到也可能会给人一种政治行为的感觉。“最近这场选举过后,几个女学生找到我说,‘我注意到男生对待我的方式发生了变化’。令人心痛,”她说。“我们正在努力给他们制定标准。在教室外面那些你可能会认为应该保持端庄稳重的地方,他们也许看不到这些标准。”

This logic resonates with some students. “Having these titles forces everyone to give that respect,” Lyndah Lovell, a graduating senior at the College of William & Mary in Williamsburg, Va., said. “They know they have to use these manners with everyone. Even if the underlying thoughts of prejudice will still be there to some extent, you give these thoughts less power.”

这种逻辑得到了一些学生的认同。“有了这些头衔,就会让所有人都对它们给予尊重,”弗吉尼亚州威廉斯堡市威廉玛丽学院(College of William & Mary)大四毕业班学生琳达·洛维尔(Lyndah Lovell)说。“他们知道必须用这些礼仪来对待所有人。即使潜在的偏见思想在某种程度上仍然存在,这样也会削弱它们的力量。”

Insisting on traditional etiquette is also simply good pedagogy. It’s a teacher’s job to correct sloppy prose, whether in an essay or an email. And I suspect that most of the time, students who call faculty members by their first names and send slangy messages are not seeking a more casual rapport. They just don’t know they should do otherwise — no one has bothered to explain it to them. Explaining the rules of professional interaction is not an act of condescension; it’s the first step in treating students like adults.

坚持传统礼仪也是很好的教学方法。纠正错误百出的文章是老师的工作,不管那是一篇短文还是一封电子邮件。而且我怀疑,大多数情况下,学生们对教职员工直呼其名,发送使用俚语的短信时,其实不是想和老师建立起更随意、更融洽的关系。他们只是不知道自己不应该这样做——没有人费力向他们解释。解释专业互动的规则并不是居高临下的行为;而是把学生当做成人对待的第一步。

That said, the teacher-student relationship depends on a special kind of inequality. “Once I refer to them as I would my best friend, I eliminate that boundary of clarity,” Ms. Lovell told me. She recalled how awkward she felt when the head of the research lab where she worked asked undergraduates to call him Willy. “All my friends were saying: ‘Oh, man, do we do this? He has a Ph.D. He’s a professor. Is it O.K. to do this?’ Sometimes I do, but he’s a great mentor, and it’s confusing. A lot of us like to preserve that distance.”

这就是说,师生关系基于一种特殊的不平等。“一旦我称呼他们就像称呼最好的朋友,就等于消除了这种清晰的界限。”洛维尔告诉我。她回忆说,在她工作的实验室里,负责人让本科生们称呼他“威利”,她觉得尴尬极了。“我所有的朋友都在说:‘哦,天哪,我们要这么做吗?他有博士学位,他可是教授啊。这样真的可以吗?’有时我会这么称呼他,但他是一个很好的导师,这样很让人困惑。我们当中有很多人愿意保留这种距离感。”

Alexis Delgado, a sophomore at the University of Rochester, is skeptical of professors who make a point of insisting on their title. “I always think it’s a power move,” she told me. “Just because someone gave you a piece of paper that says you’re smart doesn’t mean you can communicate those ideas to me. I reserve the right to judge if you’re a good professor.”

罗切斯特大学(University of Rochester)的二年级生亚历克西斯·德尔加多(Alexis Delgado)对于坚持要求以头衔相称的教授持怀疑态度。“我一直认为这是一种权力手腕,”她告诉我。“只是因为有人发给你一张纸,上面说你很聪明,并不意味着你就能把这些想法传递给我。你究竟是不是一个好教授?我保留自己判断的权利。”

But she ruefully recalled one young professor who made the mistake of telling the class that he didn’t care if they used his first name. “He didn’t realize how far it would go, and we all thought, this is awkward,” she said. “I had no desire to be friends. I only wanted to ask questions.”

但她懊悔地回忆起一位年轻的教授,他错误地告诉全班同学说,自己不介意大家对他直呼其名。“他没有意识到这样会走多远,我们都觉得这让人很尴尬,”她说。“我不想和老师成为朋友。我只想向他们提问题。”

During office hours, we have frank conversations about career choices, mental health crises and family tribulations. But the last thing most students want from a mentor is the pretense of chumminess.

在教师辅导时间里,教师和学生们可以就职业选择、心理健康危机和烦心的家事进行坦率的对话。但是大多数学生最不想从导师那里得到的,就是假装出来的亲昵。

Ms. Lovell said the very act of communicating more formally helps her get some distance on a personal problem. “When I explain my difficulties and struggles, I try to explain in a mature way,” she said. “I want to know: How would someone older than me think through this?”

洛维尔表示,进行更加正式的沟通有助于她在个人问题上保持一些距离。“我试着用成熟的方式来解释自己的困难和努力,”她说。“我想知道:比我更年长的人对这些会怎么想?”

The facile egalitarianism of the first-name basis can impede good teaching and mentoring, but it also presents a more insidious threat. It undermines the message that academic titles are meant to convey: esteem for learning. The central endeavor of higher education is not the pursuit of money or fame but knowledge. “There needs to be some understanding that degrees mean something,” Professor Jackson-Brown said. “Otherwise, why are we encouraging them to get an education?”

建立在直呼其名基础上的平等主义是肤浅的,可能会影响良好的教学和指导,而且会带来一种更为隐蔽的威胁。它侵害着学术头衔旨在传达的信息:对学识的尊重。高等教育的核心使命不是追求金钱,而是追求知识。“人们需要了解,学位是有意义的,”杰克逊-布朗教授说。“否则我们为什么还要鼓励他们接受教育?”

The values of higher education are not the values of the commercial, capitalist paradigm. At a time when corporate executives populate university boards and politicians demand proof of a diploma’s immediate cash value, this distinction needs vigilant defense.

高等教育的价值观不同于商业的、资本主义范式的价值观。如今,大学董事会中充斥着企业高管,政治人物要求证明文凭具有立竿见影的现金价值,这就更需要我们警惕地保卫这种区别。

The erosion of etiquette encourages students to view faculty members as a bunch of overeducated customer service agents. “More and more, students view the process of going to college as a business transaction,” Dr. Tomforde, the math professor, told me. “They see themselves as a customer, and they view knowledge as a physical thing where they pay money and I hand them the knowledge — so if they don’t do well on a test, they think I haven’t kept up my side of the business agreement.” He added, “They view professors in a way similar to the person behind the counter getting their coffee.”

礼节的削弱会鼓励学生们将教职员工视为一群受过太多教育的客户服务代理。“学生们愈来愈倾向于认为,上大学是一种商业交易,”数学教授汤姆福德博士告诉我。“他们认为自己是客户,把知识视为物质性的东西,他们掏钱,我就把知识付给他们——所以如果他们在考试中成绩不佳,就会认为我没有遵守我这方面的商业协议。”他补充说,“他们看待教授的方式,就和看待柜台后面给他们冲咖啡的人差不多。”

But if American culture in general — including many workplaces — has become less formal, are professors doing students a disservice by insisting on old-fashioned manners?

但是,如果美国文化——包括许多工作场所在内——在整体上已经变得不那么正式了,教师还坚持让学生们使用老式礼仪,这会不会是一件坏事呢?

When Anna Lewis left a Ph.D. program in English to work at a technology firm, she had to learn to operate in a different culture. Yet she has noticed that the informality of the tech industry can mislead new millennial employees.

安娜·刘易斯(Anna Lewis)离开一项英语博士课程后进入科技公司工作,她不得不学着应付一种完全不同的文化。但她注意到科技行业的不拘礼节可能会误导千禧一代的新员工。

“They see they can call everyone from the C.E.O. down by their first name, and that can be confusing — because what they often don’t realize is that there’s still a high standard of professionalism,” she told me. “At the intern level, these things are basic, but they require reminders: show up to meetings on time; be aware that you, yourself, are fully responsible for your work schedule. No one is going to tell you to attend a meeting.” In other words, young graduates mistake informality for license to act unprofessionally.

“他们发现,自首席执行官以降,他们可以对任何人直呼其名,这可能很让人困惑——因为他们往往没有意识到,公司里对专业水准也有极高的要求。”她告诉我。“在实习生级别,有些事情是最基本的,但是他们还需要别人提醒:要按时出席会议;要注意,你本人要对自己的工作安排负全责。没有人会告诉你该开会了。”换言之,年轻的毕业生会错把不拘礼节当做不专业行为的许可证。

“There is some value in being schooled in more formal etiquette, developing personal and professional accountability, a work ethic and a level of empathy, which is very much valued in the tech industry,” Ms. Lewis said.

“在更为正式的礼仪环境中学习,培养个人与职业上的责任心、职业道德,以及科技产业中非常注重的同理心,这是有一定价值的,”刘易斯说。

Here’s an analogy: We should teach students traditional etiquette for the same reason most great abstract painters first mastered figurative painting. In order to abandon or riff on a form, you have to get the hang of its underlying principles.

做个类比:我们应该教会学生传统礼仪,这和最伟大的抽象画家都要首先掌握具象绘画的原理是一样的。要想抛弃或是玩转一种形式,你必须首先掌握它的基本原则。

That means that professors should take the time to explain these principles, making it clear that learning how to write a professional email and relate to authority figures is not just preparation for a job after graduation. The real point is to stand up for the values that have made our universities the guardians of civilization.

这意味着教授们应该花时间来解释这些原则,向学生们明确表示,学习如何书写职业电子邮件,以及如何与权威人士联系,这不仅仅是为毕业后的工作做准备。最重要的是,这是在支持那种令我们的大学成为文明守护者的价值观。

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