An editorial in a college newspaper recently suggested that college faculty join Facebook as a way to show their desire "to connect with" students. The editors gamely suggest academic benefits: chances to create assignments that focus on what students are "already interested in" and chances to find "examples" (of what?) that students will recognize.
I'm always interested in showing the relevance of the works I teach, but it's a professor's responsibility to enlarge a student's understanding of reality, not to appeal to and thereby affirm the present limits of that understanding. And the idea of a grown-ass man or woman wandering about in the teenaged and young-adult voyeurdrome of Facebook is at best slightly absurd; at worst, deeply creepy. Anecdotal evidence suggests to me that many students agree. A much better way for faculty and students to "connect" is to talk, face to face, not as pseudo-friends but as members of a community devoted to teaching and learning.
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