Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Syllabus smackdown

Dear Student,

I am sorry to inform you that, contrary to your fond belief, you are not exempt from meeting the demands of the syllabus for my class.

I am aware that you were absent on the first day of class when we discussed the syllabus, but I am also aware that I gave you a copy of the syllabus when you finally, two weeks into the semester, honored the class with your presence. "Let me know if you have any questions on the syllabus," I said, but you didn't ask any questions so I assumed that you understood it. Furthermore, I clearly recall giving you a second copy of the syllabus after you lost the first one, and then after you lost the second copy, I pointed out that the syllabus is also easily accessible online.

Your grades in the class are also easily available online, so I'm not sure why you waited until the final week of class to look them up. I understand that you're a creative genius, a free spirit who finds the whole idea of grades and deadlines oppressive, but if that's the case, isn't your current panic about the grade a bit hypocritical? Your policy of not caring about grades and deadlines has resulted in a pretty pathetic grade, which would not be any surprise if you had bothered to read the syllabus.

I am aware that you also did not read (and perhaps did not purchase) the textbooks for the class or do most of the work, although the work you did produce was competent enough. I suspect that you are quite satisfied with your own writing skills and hope that those writing skills will someday usher you into a realm in which you will be rewarded for exercising creativity without reference to oppressive deadlines or rubrics or performance expectations--but if that world exists, you're not there yet.

You are here in my classroom, where the syllabus applies equally to all students. I am aware that you consider it demeaning to be forced to fit your creative talents to the expectations of a tyrant wedded to the oppressive world of grades and deadlines, but it's entirely possible that you could learn some valuable lessons from a professor who has actually earned a living by writing. One important lesson I've learned in my writing career is that writers who can't meet deadlines don't have careers.

Similarly, students who don't follow the syllabus don't pass the class. It's that simple. If you find my expectations oppressive, feel free to file an academic grievance with the provost's office. Instructions and deadlines for academic grievances are clearly outlined in the student handbook, which is probably located right next to your class syllabus.

1 comment:

Joy said...

Tee hee