Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Students, make an effort to meet your professors. From the U of Alabama Crimson White

I'm here for dinner.
The college experience includes almost everything, ranging from the agonizing boredom of seemingly being the only person in town over Thanksgiving break, to getting the opportunity to meet and listen to some of the greatest minds on the planet today. It seems, however, that students and their professors rarely take time to interact on a personal level.

I only noticed this reality after I was invited to a professor’s house for dinner at the end of last semester. I can honestly say that going to my professor’s house, along with several other members of my class, is one of the best experiences I’ve had at the University, and is something that I’ll always point to as something that helped me develop as both a student and an individual.


Furthermore, some professors have some really interesting and funny stories. I’ve had one professor who paid his way through Brown by moonlighting as a magician and another that is part of a Swedish royal family. More often than not, professors are willing to share their stories over coffee or after class; it’s just a matter of asking.



  1. I will not be having any of my students over for dinner.

  2. Oh, the dinner. Yes, I was briefly at a feel-good SLAC where this felt almost mandatory. I chose a tiny class at near semester-end.

    It wasn't that bad, actually. The students were better behaved in my home than my classroom. And we had an okay time. I never had negative repercussions from it. But, seriously, I only did it because I felt I had to.

    I have mixed feelings about it still, but can see that it might work, unless the teacher is one of those "love me, love me" types. (And of course there are plenty of those.

  3. Ewwww. Based on their in-class behavior, I don't want them anywhere near where I live.

    Purely apart from the fact that when I was new to Google maps, a student showed me how 'Directions' worked by showing me the most direct route from the local gun shop to my house. (I had NOT given him my address!)

  4. I'd rather have the Dean over for dinner.

    And by that I mean I wouldn't want EITHER over.

    Colleagues are another story.

  5. It's all in the balance between "I am Teach-Bot 3000. You will learn from me. Bzzzt!" and "Ooooh, I just luuuuuurve you, precious snowflake!" I don't particularly wish to invite a horde of students to my house--although I lack a dining room table, so that's effectively moot--and I also don't want to be bestest buds with the kiddies, but being friendly and/or showing that we're humans, too, is a good thing. I'll venture that most of the students feel the same way about us; our mutual relationship is a business one that's often best kept at arm's length, but they don't want us to be cold fish, either.

    For example, my mom attended a Christian college, and she told me that her undergrad Chaucer class met in the professor's living room because there were all of five students in it, and the prof couldn't be bothered to go on campus. She thought it was just fine.

    As for me, I have memories from my undergrad SLAC days about getting to know the professors as people (that Hamsterology prof might join the circle if someone busts out a doobie; the new guy in Asian Gerbil Studies goes to local clubs with his girlfriend; the Guinea Pig specialist has a semi-pro yodeling career on the side) and having little to no desire to hang out with them.

  6. Yeah, it's all in the balance:

    "Ooooh, I just luuuuuurve you, precious snowflake!Bzzzt!"

    I'd be embarrassed of the fact that my house is so much older and smaller than most of their parents'. Plus, I'd have to keep them out of the basement.

  7. I must admit that my senior chemistry lab professor invited his small (15 students) class to his house for an end of the year lunch and report presentation. It was fun. Research advisors routinely invite their undergrad research students to their house. The consumption of alcohol in that case occasionally takes place, though I don't allow it at my group parties.

    1. Oh, I did forget to mention my humanities prof with whom I got stoned on a regular basis. She didn't do that with a lot of students. I was just mature for my age.

  8. I never had a professor where I said to myself, "Yes, I'd really like to have dinner with you". They were all there to provide a paid-for service and my relationship ended with that. I did have some helpful TA's that I'd give a gift card to after the semester ended.

  9. I had some nice dinners at proffies' houses as an undergrad. They were always fun, and I loved knowing more about these strange creatures.

    Now, though, I couldn't imagine doing it.

  10. Having students for dinner can be tricky, but it's all about how they're prepared. You have to choose the proper marinade and cooking method. Some of them are tough and stringy.

    Then add some fava beans and a nice chianti.

  11. Oh, HELL NO, I am NEVER going to have students in my home, and ESPECIALLY NEVER serve them alcohol. I'd get arrested!