When I was an undergraduate at a semi-fancy liberal arts college, a lot of my learning took place in professors' office hours. A naturally curious person, I quickly learned the difference between the kind of question you ask in class, and the kind of question that is tangential, and best held for a one-on-one discussion. At least once a week, I was in some professor's office hours for twenty minutes or more, taking advantage of the opportunity to go into some thing that we had touched on in class or in the readings, but hadn't really explored in depth. I learned to see my professors as human beings, and they got to know me as the same.
But for the majority of us professor-types who don't work at liberal arts colleges, office hours are lonely times. For various reasons having to do with the culture of most universities, students just don't visit us. I've always thought this was a little sad -- as I said, some of my best learning took place in these one-on-one discussions. But over the years, I've gotten used to office hours being time where I could:
- get some grading done
- finish writing a lecture
- clean up committee work and paperwork
- run to the library to grab a book
- eat my lunch
On the other hand, I've got about a dozen little 15-minute projects all piled up. And today I ate my "lunch" at 5 p.m.
Obviously, I've got some mental rearranging to do.
On the plus side: I've redecorated my office, so it's a really nice space now. So there's that.