Saturday, January 09, 2010

Random Bullets of Syllabus Writing

  • Bardiac has a post on the various miseries of writing a syllabus, among them making rules that you won't be able to keep.
  • There's a fine line between saying too much and saying too little. If you're vague, your syllabus may not stand up if there's a challenge.
  • If, on the other hand, you spell out behaviors that you won't tolerate (texting in class), there's a chance that the students will be (1) insulted or (2) think, "wow, I didn't know you could do that in this class." True story: in religious education classes when I was a kid, if the public school kids (of which I was one) were late, the nuns used to say, in effect, "If you'd quit hanging out on the corner, drinking beer and smoking and trying to pick up boys, you wouldn't be late." We were 12 years old. Needless to say, we weren't hanging out on the corner, etc., but the implication steamed me so much that I could barely listen to what they were saying. Moral: If you treat people with excessive suspicion, they'll either enthusiastically try to live up to your worst fears about them or waste a lot of mental energy being resentful instead of listening to you.
  • At some point, if you're teaching a new course, you'll think, "I don't know enough to teach this course." This isn't true. As a wise elder once told me, "You'll always know more than they will, even if it's not as much as you'd like." While this isn't true in all cases, it's mostly true.
  • Those of you who have mandates not to print your syllabus but to post it to Blackboard or something may find this funny (I did): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-7awiiWOefA
  • [Edited to add] On the other hand, I'll be including some version of "don't text" in my syllabus, so maybe I have a suspicious nature.

5 comments:

dance said...

that was a very funny video.

annieem said...

Loved the video: I just sent the link to my dean;-)

Bardiac said...

LOL, "there's extra credit for research participation"! Brilliant!

undine said...

Thanks! It made me laugh out loud; I'm glad everyone enjoyed it--except maybe your dean, Annieem.

Ink said...

"Nobody reads WebCT"! LMAO!