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Damon P. Suey

Thanks for posting this. I appreciate it, especially since I'm the kind of person that would typically make a lot of these mistakes — avoiding faculty, fading into the background, etc.


First thing to keep in mind is that we (faculty) are people - and as people we may be very different in our expectations and habits. So no "one size fits all" answer to this question is possible. Feel free to politely ask us about one another ("would professor x be willing to engage with a criticism I have of his book for 1984?").

Moving on to two issues that I know play a role in my interactions with students.

1. Demonstrate your commitment. Let's assume all students are committed to profession philosophy (even though that itself isn't the case everywhere). But there are still behaviors that may be taken as signals of weak commitment. If you start a debate, follow through. If you are told that something is essential reading, at least check it out etc. Don't let this life seem to be a hobby for you.

2. Quick turnaround time. We are overworked and over-extended, hence with short attention spans. If you email me a question and I take the time to write 5 paragraphs in return, do read them and think about them and reply fairly quickly if you want me to remain engaged. I realize that sometimes you may feel you need time to reflect, but don't let your lack of confidence lead you to disappear for three months (or a year!). If you must, respond by saying "I thought about this a bit, here's what I think, but I am going to think about this some more". If we start a discussion about a philosophical issue, keep the discussion moving (unless, of course, the other participant signals waning interest).

Marcus Arvan

I'd glad to hear you found the post helpful, Damon. Hopefully you can avoid some of the mistakes I made (and saw too many other people make as well). :)

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