Thursday, August 25, 2011

Just what I need on the Thursday before classes start

What does your syllabus say about you and your course?

My God, this woman thinks we're all rainbow unicorns with unlimited perkiness. What flying saucer did she land from?

So I'll see whether I can answer some of her questions.

How would you characterize the tone of your syllabus? There will be no foolish wand-waving or silly incantations in this class. Here's the information, fools, and you can expect to work damned hard for your grades. Oh, and that national trend that 40% of all grades are "A"? It doesn't apply here; my most common grade is a C, just as God intended.

Does your syllabus convey the excitement, intrigue and wonder that’s inherently a part of the content you teach? Few of you will have the capacity to appreciate the exact art and creative science of potion-making. I can teach you to bewilder the mind, ensnare the senses, and even put a stopper in death -- if you're not as big a bunch of dunderheads as I usually have to teach.

Does your syllabus indicate that all the decisions about the course have been made? Um, who's the one who knows what they're talking about here? I thought so.

Have you ever asked students for feedback on your syllabus?...inquire why so many students don’t read their syllabi, and if you’re really daring find out if they have or haven’t read the syllabus in your course and ask why. I know why: because they're lazy fucksticks. The ones who aren't, have RTFS.

Her final line:
Have you ever thought about creating a syllabus that invites students to a learning event they just might want to attend? What would that syllabus look like? How different would it be from the syllabi you’re polishing and posting for this Fall?

If my students have any interest in my subject, and are willing to work, I won't have to give them an engraved invitation on the first day. They'll get the excitement from the way I present the material and the questions I ask them to think about.

Fuckin' A. Every damned thing has to be more entertaining than Halo now, doesn't it?


  1. Does your syllabus indicate that all the decisions about the course have been made?

    Bwahahhahahahahaaaaaaaa. *snort* Whoever wrote that line either hasn't taught a class or is still following an ancient syllabus that s/he wrote up 10-plus years ago.

  2. "Have you ever thought about creating a syllabus that invites students to an event they might just want to attend? What would it say?"

    Here's what it would say:

    FREE BEER! Learn how to ace your classes without having to lift a finger! Learn how to impress members of the opposite/same sex! Free video game cheats! Disc golf training advice! FREE BEER!


  3. There might be some slight credence to the point made that children find First Grade boring because it's not as entertaining as "Sesame Street". Learning isn't as much fun when there are no Muppets.

    By the college years, they've had plenty of opportunity to learn how to sit still and pay attention. Unfortunately, they've had little practice.

    My favorite Snape line is, "Perhaps it has escaped your attention, but Life is not fair."

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  5. I'm very sorry you have to contend with that Introvert. And in your remaining days of summer.

    The syllabus needs to be factual and contractual. That is all. I long ago quit caring whether they even RTFS at all. As long as it covers my bases, that's all I need it to do.

  6. Hey, little nitpick; people, humanoids, and horrendous space monsters travel/traverse dimensions in flying saucers, not from them. So the sentence "I am Krogbvargar....I come from the planet Xzuaukas and I traversed space to your puny 'earth' in a Flying Saucer." is correct, while "What flying saucer did she land from?" is not.

    Thank you, and the anal probe master Glithorkon thanks you as well.

  7. I suppose, for the benefit of Glithorkon, I should have used "alight from".

  8. "LEARNING EVENT"? Uggggggggggggggggh.

  9. A) Gack.

    B) My institution hands down a detailed description of what They want in my syllabus. Rainbows and butterflies are Conspicuously Absent.

  10. @Gary

    OMG. Grad school would have been SO MUCH BETTER WITH MUPPETS.

    Bert & Ernie arguing about Foucault? Priceless.

  11. Barf, indeed. And ditto Faris' B (as well as A). This was written by someone who is still working under the illusion (or perhaps even the reality) that the syllabus is a document of her own authorship, and her students are its primary audience. I've long since given up on both ideas; in fact, I think this is the semester I hit the point where less than 50% of the syllabus will be things I'd include if left to myself (and probably only about 70% will be my own words).

  12. hahah As A student I appreciate a teacher who expects students to not be knuckle draggers, as well as a teacher who doesn't have time or patience for students with poodle fluff in their heads.

  13. AG--do you think that a syllabic admonition against poodlefluffery will prevent it from occurring?

    Think again.

  14. You all should check out the comments: there's one that's particularly egregious in that she thinks syllabi should look like elementary-school bulletin boards. As F&T said, in the first comment: Barf.

    That said, some of you all must have left comments; the ones toward the bottom are much saner.


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