Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Teachers And Used-Car Sellers many of us got into teaching to share knowledge that can empower people. Selling, of course, is for other people, right?

I've been trying to discern redeeming qualities in the honorable profession of selling, but it took me a while to find the connection to the "obviously superior" task of teaching. Especially in the rarefied airs of the university setting, selling is just something we'd rather not talk about. And any professors caught in the act of selling something might have to wear a scarlet S for the rest of their lives.

But now I get it. There really is a connection, even if people normally don't talk about it.

Grades are so important to the vast majority of students. In fact, most of them have a strong sense that they deserve the highest grades, just on the value of their wonderful personalities. While no doubt they do all deserve excellent grades, the reality is that the game of going to college is played by different rules.

If you want to get good grades, you need to study.

Everybody knows this. Yet very few students actually spend time outside the classroom with the course material.

W e professors work at selling the idea that studying is indeed a good thing. We sell them by offering bonuses and threatening to fail them. We cajole, we nag, we remind them why they're getting an the end, we try to sell them on the idea that spending their extremely valuable time on the subject we're teaching will render them great benefits.

So, in the end, the job of teaching is not that far away from selling. It's just that our pay isn't tied directly to how successful we are at selling our students on the idea of learning our material.

What is it that you sell, even if you're not on commission?