When you’re hot you’re hot, and when you’re not you’re not

What do you know about Professor Daniel Gutstein of George Washington University? He teaches creative writing at the university, and indeed is a well-known and award winning author of fiction and poetry. But all that is neither here not there. His real claim to fame is that, this year, the website ratemyprofessor.com has voted him America’s ‘hottest professor’. Want to check it out? Here he is.

But what should we make of this? Is it a harmless piece of fun, or does it in some way compromise the seriousness of academic work? You decide.

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6 Comments on “When you’re hot you’re hot, and when you’re not you’re not”

  1. Music for Deckchairs Says:

    Hmm, what if it’s neither? Maybe it’s a tactful nudge that we might not want to take our own surveys quite so seriously either. I’ve heard administrative and academic colleagues in survey planning committees earnestly discuss the way to find out what actually motivates students to engage (often phrased something like “Because of this teacher I have felt inspired to learn”). I’ve found myself thinking that we do secretly believe in the same magic ingredient as RMP, it’s just that we call it inspiration, they call it hotness. The line between ineffable and F-able turns out to be a fine one.

    The second small lesson we can learn from RMP: they also struggle with student engagement and sample size. Prof Gutstein’s rise through the hotness ranks

  2. anna notaro Says:

    There is an interesting paradox at play in contemporary society which extends well beyond the confines of educational matters and has to do with the fact that the public and private spheres (once easier to identify – a woman’s place would be in the house for ex. etc.) are undergoing a dramatic change. The paradox consists in the fact that exactly at a time when (some) lament the loss of a sense of public good, public-ness, community etc. as opposed to a rampant individualism, on the other hand we have an obsessive interest for EVERYTHING to be public, to be shared, to be known by everybody, no matter whether it’s professors’ rates, as in this case, footballers’ latest extra-marital affairs, or the private individual sharing his/her own ‘favourites’ on Facebook. The transparency and (apparent) accountability that digital technologies make possible if not managed appropriately is leading us towards a society based on gossip, rightly identified by the socalled superbrands as one of humankind needs, together with sex and religion (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-13416598
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b011fjbp) As media savvy educators, we should know better…

  3. Eugene Gath Says:

    I notice that “easiness” is a category people are rated on -and on which he did badly!

  4. jfryar Says:

    I’d love to a social experiment where we take an existing ‘top rated professor’ and submit nothing but negative ‘reviews’ for a year. After that year, open the reviews back up to students to see whether a conditioning effect has occured (like Pavlov’s salivating dogs) and if they now respond negatively because that’s how they were expecting to respond.

  5. cormac Says:

    I’m delighted to see the hot professor scored highly overall despite a low score in the category ‘easy’. This suggests students can differentiate between a good teacher and an easy course.
    Is there some reson you chose to look at the ‘hottest’ professsor list, rather than the ‘best’ professor? They are distinct lists, but I’m not entirely clear what is the difference between them is..

    • jfryar Says:

      I think ‘hotness’ is the internationally approved S.I. unit of physical attractiveness. Or at least that’s how I’m interpreting ‘hotness’ on that site based on some of the student comments …


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