Friendship as a Teaching Strategy for Graduate Students
As graduate students, we find that developing friendships with professors results in increased learning and performance. In such an environment, one is not afraid to reveal weaknesses or academic shortcomings, and it erases (or minimizes) any insecurity that could result from unequal content authority. We feel secure in asking questions, expressing frustrations, and asserting intellect. Therefore, friendship plays an essential role in the struggle for knowledge.
When Academic Leadership Comes with Baggage
The baggage we bring to work with us can take a variety of forms. It could occur because we applied for our positions as internal candidates and suddenly find ourselves as bosses of the very people who only a short time ago we regarded as close friends. It could occur because we find ourselves in charge of a department or college in which a current or former mentor, romantic partner, or spouse works. It could occur because we develop a special affinity for someone who reports to us—or to whom we report—and we need to set aside those personal feelings when it comes to making a decision. In all too many cases, baggage places us in a lose-lose situation. If you decide in favor of your friend/lover/mentor, you’ll be accused of playing favorites. If you make a decision to that person’s detriment, the personal relationship could easily be strained.