Not all profs wear tweed

By CH Smith

Even early 20th century university students felt research-orient professors weren’t good teachers, according to a new book.

Set for release in late 2004, Historical Identities: The Professoriate in Canada is a new book edited by University of Calgary professors Dr. Paul Stortz and Dr. E. Lisa Panayotidis. The book hopes to create a better understanding of scholars in Canada and shed some light on the origins of stereotypical representations of professors which still exist.Â

Numerous books have been published on doctors, lawyers and scientists, but professors in Canada have been the topic of surprisingly few publications. This will be the first scholarly look at Canadian scholars.

Featuring papers from more than a dozen Canadian academics on a wide range of issues, Historical Identities includes a paper by Dr. Panayotidis examining satirical cartoons and drawings of academics in University of Toronto yearbooks from 1898-1915.Â

“One of the important things about the paper is to bring out and show these cartoons that have created a lot of interest as a wonderful aspect of popular culture and look at the historical time period they come from and where they came from,” said Dr. Panayotidis.

A number of the cartoons Dr. Panayotidis studied are exceedingly satirical, with one showing a gang of professors hurling question marks at a student who is already up to his knees in question marks. Another shows two professors playing a game of chess with students as the pieces.Â

Dr. Panayotidis felt these cartoons said a lot about students’ relationships with professors.

“One of the things students started to get at was the fact they felt some professors who were research oriented weren’t good role models because they weren’t around a lot,” said Dr. Panayotidis. “Alter-nately, professors that spent a lot of time and created relationships with their students in and out of the classroom were seen as being teacher/mentors. This created a kind of divide.”

A divide Dr. Panayotidis felt is relevant to the current situation at the U of C.

“I think it’s really important to have researchers in the classroom but they have to be passionate and energetic,” said Dr. Panayotidis. “For my part, teaching and research are inseparable. It is vital that we bring that passion and energy into the classroom.”

One paper looks at the relationship between the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and professors during the 1950s. Others look spec- ifically at women as academics, at professors’ wives who themselves had PhDs but could not work as professors, and one looks at same-sex relationships within the professoriate.

The ultimate goal of Historical Identities is to invite further discussion on the topic.

“We are trying to bring out a book that raises discussion and invites people to become part of the larger field and also learn something about the profession,” stressed Dr. Panayotidis. “It’s just a beginning that we hope will chart something new.”