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Thursday, May 13, 2010

Why a Professor is Not a Teacher!

Most people teaching in higher education institutes consider themselves professors, not teachers. Teachers are usually associated with K-12 educational settings. Teachers have been specifically trained in the methods of teaching and learning. Most of the curriculum teachers take in higher education prepares them for teaching many subjects. For example, if someone becomes an early childhood educator (K-3rd grade), they have been trained to teach a variety of subject matters – reading, writing, mathematics and so on. If they are becoming a secondary education educator, again, they tend to take a limited number of classes in their specialty areas – natural science, mathematics, and so on, in addition to courses on educational theory.

In contrast, professors have not been formally trained as educators. They have not been specifically trained in teaching methodologies or educational theories. Instead, professors have spent many years being trained in a specialized field. Most professors will have advanced degrees (Master’s or Doctorate) in a specific area – Biology, Political Science, Sociology, Psychology, English and so on. They are professional biologists or professional political scientists. Furthermore, professors may have specialized in a specific area within a field. For example, a biologist might have specialized in zoology or anatomy and physiology or marine biology. Professors are considered Experts within a field of study, very much like medical doctors who have been specifically trained in the field of medicine.

Do not refer to a college-level instructor as a teacher. Refer to her/him as a professor.

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