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Monday, April 27, 2009

Taboos in Academia

Most professors will never admit that:

  1. They are wrong
  2. They don't understand something


  1. They are seasoned performers in the art of faking it. I was actually told this by a professor. Also, this invaluable art comes into play with teaching. There are all sorts of strategies to avoid telling your students that you don't know something. One of them: when a student asks you a difficult question, send the question back to the group: 'What do you all think?'. This is a classic stategy employed when a lecturer is clueless as to how to answer a question. All of the TAs in our department talk about the multitude of ways to avoid admitting you're not in the know. Professors have actually become pros at this. There have been so many times that my advisor challenged me on something, told me I was wrong, and then I actually came to discover I was right. They are not all-knowing, omnipotent beings. They just know how to play the game!

  2. Yes, they make their living by "being smart". Admitting you don't know something is like a policeman admitting he is afraid to respond to a particular call.