Thursday, November 30, 2006

Appropriate or not? Let's take a poll.

Comment from an older faculty member during the question period after a grad student's presentation of her fieldwork results:

"You're starting to become a real academic now."

He thought it was a compliment; I think it was insulting---suggesting that her work up to now has been substandard (including, presumably, her peer-reviewed publications).

What do you think?

11 Comments:

Breena Ronan said...

I would only take that from another grad student, as a joke. Not appropriate from a faculty member.

Psycgirl said...

I would assume he meant it in a different way like "Your work has really developed" or "Your work is really coming to fruition"

But, I have a complete negative bias so my first thought would be to be insulted as well...

Dr. Brazen Hussy said...

hmmm. I think he didn't mean it as an insult, just wanted to say that the student was making good progress. But it could certainly be interpreted in an insulting way.

StyleyGeek said...

I'm certain that he didn't mean it as an insult. He's not like that. He probably didn't mean to be insulting when he called me "M'dear" yesterday, either.

But that doesn't make it right.

Publius said...

If it wasn't someone I was on friendly terms with, it would probably annoy me.

Acre said...

I can see where the compliment is supposed to be and would probably be able to convince myself to take it as such, but would have found it insulting in a public forum. It would feel like a power play to me - a reminder that I am not considered a full-fledged academic and that he is.

StyleyGeek said...

Acre, I think that's exactly what bothered me about it too; I just hadn't realised it. But yes, it feels like a power-play.

I was trying to work out for myself why I think I would have seen it as less insulting if that hadn't been the entireity of his comment. For example if he has said that, and then gone on to praise something in the talk, or ask for clarification about some other point, or... anything.

But the fact that he just left it at that means you start wondering what the subtext was: why he felt it necessary to 'waste' part of the discussion time on something that could just as well have been a throw-away comment in private afterwards (if he really had to say it at all).

And I think you are right: it's about power.

Seeking Solace said...

I agree with Publius. If the person who said it was not a friend, I could see how it could be viewed as an insult.

I guess you have to consider the source and take it for what it's worth.

kermitthefrog said...

I'm with Acre here. Coming from an older faculty member, it would seem patronizing to me, especially with the very qualified verb "starting to become." Rephrasing it as a comment about the work, rather than the student ("This is model work for an advanced grad student," or "This is extremely publishable") would be much more acceptable to me.

JustMe said...

so NOT appropriate

MECM said...

It's patronizing, but, frankly, not surprising.