About Me

This blog is more for me than for you. I wanted a way to chronicle my experiences as a college professor, so I decided a blog would be more efficient and more organized than me randomly writing in a journal I would inevitably lose or forget about. But before you delve into my deepest thoughts I want to be clear: this blog is indeed a representation of my thoughts. Nothing you read here should be generalized to my colleagues or my institution. While many of them would agree with some of what I say, it is not my intention to be the voice of anyone but myself (because frankly, I don’t want that kind of pressure). So, with that said, here we go:

I can’t believe I am a professor. With 4 degrees from 2 top institutions, no one expected me to end up at a small liberal arts college most had never heard of. Turns out, the school is pretty well ranked. What’s more is that the school is a perfect fit for me.

As a Developmental Educational Psychologist, my teaching interests center on developmentally appropriate teaching practices. As a person with diverse educational experiences, my research takes place primarily in low income schools. Though I am a psychologist and researcher by training, I am an educator by choice. My home department is an Education Department where I teach courses such as Education Policy, Educational Psychology, Education Reform, Diversity and Equity Education, with more courses in the works. As an “Assistant Professor of Social and Political Issues in Education”, my teaching spans a breadth of subjects, but at the end of the day, I am most interested in facilitating my students’ learning by pushing them to think beyond themselves.

This blog is intended to be a portfolio, a file cabinet, a journal, and a feedback forum for all things related to my chosen career. Leave comments if you’d like. Provide suggestions if you feel inspired. Most of all, think deeply about issues I raise and feel free to respectfully challenge what you read; however, before you comment (in agreement or otherwise), I encourage you to skim through prior posts. It’s hard to find one posting well supported or well argued. The beauty of a blog is that you can tell a story without writing a dissertation (again). Thank you for reading and thinking.

*Addition as of August 2013: Many readers have asked for more information about me, my teaching and my research. If you are interested, feel free to visit my website: www.manyawhitakerphd.com and also check out my educational consulting business.

2 comments on “About Me

  1. Olivia says:

    I have just tumbled across your blog and, as a college student, find it highly entertaining (mostly because these are all things I see my classmates do, and they all irritate ME, so I assume they must irritate my professors). I do find though that you have joined the ranks of every college professor I have ever had: those who declaim how much they love to teach, love to push their students (read: undergraduates) to new understandings, love to facilitate the learning of the next generation. However I have yet to find a professor who truly makes time for their undergraduates; who is really eager to push their students to new heights of understanding outside of the 2-hour seminar period alloted to their class each week. The occasional, less-than-helpful-because-the-professor-hasn’t-checked-the-questions-you-sent-in-an-email-in-advance office meeting is hardly facilitating the curiosity of the next generation.

    I hardly mean this as an accusation, but more as a query – do professors really mean it when they say they love to teach? And if not, why do they say they love it? For the most part, we don’t LOVE learning (even those of us who are fascinated and want to continue on to postgraduates), and when we do, we’re often disappointed by out professors’ lack of interest in undergraduates. So why do professors feel the need to say they LOVE teaching us?

    • I LOVE your comment! Mostly because I too am annoyed when professors say they love to teach and then they don’t answer their students’ emails, are never available during their own posted office hours, or complain to other faculty about how annoyed they are they have to grade. In general, I don’t think most professors are in it for the teaching. I think some people do it because it is prestigious. Others do it because it really is a career that offers a great quality of life. Most, I think do it because they are interested in research. I happen to be one of the professors who is not interested in research. I truly got my PhD because I wanted to teach. I originally wanted to be a middle school language arts teacher but the realities of that salary do not allow me to pay off my undergrad debt (though I do still plan to follow that dream later in my career). I find that I really do enjoy lesson planning, finding readings, and most of all, talking with my students. I look forward to class every day and when I am not teaching for long periods of time, I miss it. Now, I can’t say how many other professors feel the same. I can say that in general, I find kindred spirits at other liberal arts colleges whose primary purpose is teaching undergraduates (not research) and therefore don’t have many (if any) graduate programs on campus. I’m not sure what classification of school you attend, but data does show that the larger the class sizes, the less engaged the students AND professor are. The classes at my institution tend to be between 8-16 so I have plenty of opportunity to truly build relationships with students. I would find it incredibly hard to have sustained enjoyment of teaching if I had so many students I couldn’t learn their names.

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