Sunday, January 27, 2013

My fake college syllabus As your professor, I plan to take your money, never read your essays and pretend you're not checking Facebook. From Salon.Com.

Course Description

In this class, we will analyze some of World Literature’s greatest short novels in an attempt to interrogate the essence of plot and character while reading as few words as possible. Each class session will begin with a student presentation of 15 to 20 minutes, so we’re looking at an effective class time of about an hour. I’d love to give you a five-minute break halfway through the period, with the tacit understanding that we actually blow 15, but then I’d have to pretend I didn’t notice when 36% of you didn’t bother to come back. Or I’d have to pass around the attendance sheet again, which is a major pain in the ass.



  1. On text books:
    ”What if you went to the store to buy toilet paper, and they were out of it? Correct: You’d go to another store.”

    I may have to steal this!

  2. Betcha this guy gets stellar student evaluations.

  3. Wait, we get to take their money? I'm totally doing this wrong!

  4. The textbook store section reminded me of a student last semester who came to my final class and asked me where he could get the novel before the final exam. The novel we had been reading for 4 weeks, on which he supposedly had already written a paper.

    Bang head on desk.

  5. This all sounds pretty plausible to me, except for Scott the TA. I've never had a TA, but colleagues who have (usually in exchange for teaching twice as many students, or doing something else especially time-consuming; one reason I haven't had one -- it doesn't sound like a good deal) have had extremely mixed experiences. On balance, the chances that the TA will be a slightly grown-up snowflake (and/or a keener who wants to check every move with the head teacher) seem to be much higher than that one will end up with a Scott. Also, I've yet to meet anyone in English who managed to entirely avoid reading undergrad papers by having one or more TAs.

  6. Oh, and there's also the headline, which implies that the professor actually sees a significant proportion of the money the students in the class paid. That's not true in any humanities class I know of, whether a small section taught by an underpaid adjunct, or a large lecture taught by a star. I doubt it's even true of a small grad seminar taught by a star. Some of it goes for overhead, of course, but, basically, the humanities subsidize subjects that require much more equipment, higher-paid professors, etc. to teach (which I only slightly resent; I can certainly live with the equipment part), and, I suspect, the bloated administration (that I do resent, though I realize somebody has to comply with all those regulations).

    1. Now, now, Cassandra. Remember that I teach large general-ed classes too, and am required to give up quite a lot of overhead on my research grants. I will concede that you may not get much of that: the bloated admin is absolutely ravenous for every scrap they can get!

    2. Oh, I'm not complaining about you, Frod. I don't really have any problem with some cross-subsidies, especially those that provide equipment for disciplines that are more equipment-intensive (and I realize that your grants pay for some of that, and that you work hard to get those grants). I'd prefer to see less salary disparity between humanities and sciences, of course, but I'm fully aware that scientists are hardly making out like bandits (the B-school and those administrators, on the other hand. . .). Honestly, I'd happily settle for making as much as TT colleagues in my own department who teach far fewer students in far more pleasant conditions (i.e. some of the students actually want to be there). And I'm fully aware that some of my own TT colleagues are teaching less-than-willing students in big classes, too.


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