So, here’s the thing:
My post wasn’t actually about the important of titles. It was about not assuming your female professor is a “Miss” rather than a “Dr.” … not about how much I need to be addressed by my proper title.
But since we’re on the subject now, I’ll say a few words.
Calling your professor Mister or Miss indicates that you haven’t figured out very much about the whole collegiate enterprise. It suggests, like these messages explicitly do, that college professors are pretty much just like high school teachers. Their job is to stand up in front of the room and tell you something about the subject, then test you on it, and then you can judge whether or not they’re any good at what they do based on whether you learned something or were entertained.
It’s fine with me if you’re content to think of a PhD as merely the result of “time and dedication” rather than evidence of a substantial amount of knowledge on a specific subject. But that’s just an indication that you don’t really know what’s going on around you. The instructor who is working on her PhD might very well be an excellent teacher, as you say, and that’s great. But what you’re missing is that your professor is also teaching her (the subject she’s now teaching you and also professionalization).
So here’s where college is different from high school: Your professors aren’t simply teachers; they’re also researchers (whether or not you happen to care about the books and articles they publish). And the college campus isn’t like your high school. When you come to college, you have the potential to embark on a collaborative educational project with students and faculty, one that involves more than simply going to class and then going home. The fact that more students don’t attend evening lectures by visiting scholars, that office hours aren’t busier, and that on-campus activities are never particularly crowded suggests that a lot of students either don’t understand or don’t care about making the most of the educational experience that college affords them.
You see, the best college professors are good at what they do because they’re teaching you about the subjects they’re actively researching. They’re able to convey their excitement about the topic; bring in the most recent, most relevant, most interesting material; and even teach students how to conduct their own research.
Calling your professor “Professor” or “Dr.” suggests that you understand some of this. It’s not about showing respect; it’s about recognizing that college isn’t just big kid high school.