Sometimes in this blog I write about things that puzzle me. For example, back in 2014 I wrote about how important it is to me to learn students’ preferred names and yet how difficult it is to get them to give me the name they prefer. It turns out that an article I saw today gave me a partial answer to that question.

The article discusses the importance of teachers learning students’ names, including the correct pronunciation of those names. It talks about the negative consequences when students are called by the wrong name, which is somewhat obvious. But the less obvious point that it makes is that students who have a “difficult” or unusual name may feel like their name is a burden on the instructor. Deferring to whatever the instructor calls them is a way of minimizing that burden. The article also notes that the power dynamic between teachers and students makes it hard for students to broach the topic.

I readily admit that I’m terrible at pronunciation, but this is an important issue. So it looks like I’m going to be dedicating myself to work harder on this.