Friendship as a Teaching Strategy for Graduate Students
Professors play an integral role in cultivating the hearts and minds of their students through the creation of a vibrant intellectual community. Fostering intellectual curiosity and academic integrity enables students to grow professionally and personally. A natural byproduct of such a community can, and should be, friendship. Meaningful friendships with peers and professors in the classroom shape hearts and minds, expand perspectives, and challenge positions because they are built on mutual trust and respect. Friendship is a partnership that assumes equal effort and contribution. 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. A strong relationship between teacher and student “is a central component in successful teaching and learning” (Aultman, Williams-Johnson, and Schutz, 2009).