Field of Science

Slay the syllabus!

Now that TPP’s academic alter ego has retired is it time for TPP to stop pointing out the absurdities of higher education?  Nah! Nada! Not a chance! So how nice is this that a columnist at Slate has taken a major swing at that evil monster – the syllabus. Yes, these days a syllabus is treated by many students and virtually all administrators, both being just about equally distant from any real vision of education, as a contract, and TPP totally agrees that this is a sign of the end times for higher education. The problem arises when a student wants to know exactly, precisely, right down to the last twiddle, what they must do in your course to get an A so that they can minimize learning and effort while maximizing their GPA, and your syllabus is supposed to spell this out. TPP actually included a small phrase at the end of one syllabus saying, “This syllabus is not a legal document and not a binding contract.” Wait, wait, the semester has started and that’s still Tuscany outside my window! This is disturbing my wa, my transcendent serenity! It can be restored only by the anguish this blog causes my teaching colleagues.   

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