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31. What University Professors Do > Indoctrinating Grad Students

Indoctrinating Grad Students

The emphasis on research actually begins long before a person snags his first professor gig. When idealistic young Americans are applying to graduate schools, they are expected to emphasize their love of scholarship. Mentioning a passion for teaching in a graduate school application can actually hurt applicants.

Once in graduate programs, future academics are not taught how to be teachers. Their instruction focuses on the discipline that they are pursuing. In his excellent book, The Thinking Student’s Guide to College: 75 Tips For Getting a Better Education, Andrew Roberts, a professor at Northwestern University, provides this take:

Even if your main goal remains to become a teacher, you will still get almost no training in teaching at graduate school. Yes, you will be asked to serve as a teaching assistant and possibly even teach your own class, but more than likely you will be thrown into your first teaching situation with little prior preparation. You will have to learn to teach on your own and you will sometimes even be encouraged not to go the extra mile. In short, don’t expect to be trained as a teacher in doctoral programs. This may be a scandal and probably should be changed, but it is the way things are.


  

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