Since children are not always able to focus on learning, school teachers must be vigilant monitors of their behavior. Teachers are not only giving kids information, they're preparing them for further education and life in general. That requires an array of carrot and stick measures that make teachers the governors of student behavior.
But that's generally not part of a college professor's responsibilities. They explicate scientific concepts and findings and discuss their relevance. Nothing that makes them quasi-parents of the students, who are now expected to act like (young) adults.
These differences really manifest themselves. So much so that first-year college students are turning to social media to celebrate the fact that they no longer need so many disciplinarians in their lives. Which is nothing I'm against. Their posts are quite entertaining and highlight that school and college -- even though they're separated by only one summer -- are like two different worlds.
Adam Cook was one of the people who shared a picture of a conversation he had with his college professor that probably couldn't happen with a high school teacher.
It happened a couple of years ago. He turned in an essay on a movie called The Emperor's New Groove but later learned that it was actually a production called The Emperor of Time that he had to analyze. To his surprise, however, Adam got a C. The professor said they just couldn't fail him because his work "was kinda good".
"My mixup back in 2017 would have been worse if my paper didn't include the analysis but luckily my work was everything they expected in the paper about the Emperor of Time, just a different movie," Adam told Bored Panda. Looking back at his tweet about the experience, Adam said he has two regrets: 1) He wishes he would have immediately put a link to a charity (about 20 million people saw it and Adam said if even two people had donated, it would have been worth it) and 2) he also wishes there was a disclaimer that reminded people of the character limits of tweets.
For him, the transition from high school to college was fairly easy in terms of academics. "Yes, the course work is more in-depth and rigorous," he said. "However, you don't have the endless busy work that is given in high school to fill up the class time. Basically, there is far less 'hand holding' by the school. In college, it's up to you to find time to study and learn what you need to learn which works great for me personally."
He said probably the biggest difference between teachers and professors is that professors generally just want the final work to be good or the exam to be good, as compared to teachers who care if you are in the class, look attentive, randomly calling on you, etc.
Keith M. Parsons, professor of philosophy at University of Houston-Clear Lake, wrote a wonderful piece for Huff Post, saying that a person's success in higher education depends a lot on whether they understand these differences.
"I am your professor, not your teacher. There is a difference," Parsons wrote. "Up to now, your instruction has been in the hands of teachers, and a teacher’s job is to make sure that you learn. Teachers are evaluated on the basis of learning outcomes, generally as measured by standardized tests. If you don’t learn, then your teacher is blamed. However, things are very different for a university professor. It is no part of my job to make you learn. At university, learning is your job—and yours alone. My job is to lead you to the fountain of knowledge. Whether you drink deeply or only gargle is entirely up to you."
The professor highlighted that high school teachers are held responsible if their students fail, and expected to show that they tried hard to avoid that dreaded result. He and his colleagues, on the other hand, are not held responsible for their students' failures. "On the contrary, I get paid the same whether you get an 'F' or an 'A.' My dean will not call me in and ask how many conferences I had with your parents about your progress. Indeed, since you are now an adult, providing such information to your parents would be an illegal breach of privacy. Neither will I have to document how often I offered you tutoring or extra credit assignments." Parsons said he has no obligation whatsoever to make sure that his students pass or make any particular grade at all.
He also reminded everyone that universities are ancient and tend to do things the old-fashioned way. "In high school, your education was basically a test-preparation service. Your teachers were not allowed to teach, but were required to focus on preparing you for those all-important standardized tests," he explained. "Though it galls ideologues, we university professors still enjoy a large degree of academic freedom. That means that the content and format of your courses is still mostly under your professor’s control, and the format will probably include a good bit of lecture, some discussion, and little or no test preparation."
Comparing Parsons' thoughts to these posts, it seems that he's on the same page as the students. Maybe they have conspired together, maybe they're onto something. What do you think? Tell us in the comments.