Why for instance should I be called “Professor Cowen,” but few people would address the person fixing their toilet as “Plumber Jones”?
For a long time I have insisted that my graduate students call me “Tyler.” My goal has been to encourage them to think of themselves as peer researchers who might someday prove me wrong, rather than viewing me as an authority figure who is handing down truth.
This post from Tyler Cowen about titles resonated.
There’s something about forced titles that annoys me. I don’t like introducing myself with my title because it signals a place in the organization. And I abhor terms like mentor and mentee.
It is an idea a good friend shared with me a decade ago when I asked him if he’d be my mentor. “Let’s just be friends” he said. If he was wise enough, he reasoned, he’d share perspective that was useful. He didn’t need to be called a mentor for that.