New schedule begins…now

Classes start next week, so so I need to start getting my schedule back on track, which means I’m going to be in the lab every day at 9am. Summer’s over. Sorry, everyone.

So I walk into my office…after taking care of the spiders, of course…and what do I find in my u email? Another indigestible lump of text from one of the offices on campus that I’m supposed to add to my syllabus. It’s out of control. It’s ridiculous.

Can I volunteer for a committee that collects and collates all this absurd, ever-accumulating pile of what are basically inter-office memos that we are expected to append to all of our teaching materials? Here’s what I’d do: every summer, compile them to a linkable master file on a university website, and provide one line, a link, that everyone can add to their syllabus. Done and dusted. Two other things I’d do:

  • Provide a link so the people who create these things could submit revisions, which would be reviewed the following summer.
  • Set a deadline: the file is locked and unchangeable after, say, 1 August. You want to add more? You can’t do it the week before classes, and you have to submit it the Commissar of Syllabus Bloat, not to the campus wide listserv, who will put it in a queue to be dealt with 9 or 10 months later.

I think it’s safe to volunteer for this committee, since it doesn’t exist, and no way would the bureaucrats consent to submit to a policy that would constrain their advertising. Also, administrators don’t read my blog, it’s far too scary for them.


  1. ANB says

    I’m sure administrators don’t likely read your blog. They have too many other things to do, and unless they were actually interested in the things you post, would have no good reason to do so.

    However…are you sure they don’t read it?

  2. Ariaflame, BSc, BF, PhD says

    Pretty sure that’s how our university did it. Had a link for stuff students should know and provided that in the unit information/syllabus document which got remarkably pared down this year. Except for the assignments which got expanded a bit, but that might be all to the good.

  3. macallan says


    However…are you sure they don’t read it?

    Well, for starters, it’s got spiders all over it.

  4. Pierce R. Butler says

    … administrators don’t read my blog…

    As if they had something better to do…

  5. says

    Syllabus bloat is one of the few things our college administration excels at. Many of the recommendations for inclusion are perfectly reasonable — until they provide boilerplate text for us to use. Sorry. I can include a section on our assistive programs for students with learning disabilities without filling up an entire page. I inform my students we have an office in student services to help with such problems and provide a link to take them to the information page (where you find all the stuff that admin wants me to stuff into my syllabus). And why should I include the breast-beating text about dispossessed indigenous people when it’s already highlighted on our college webpage? And so much of it is so badly written, too! (Am I required to preserve the typos?)

    Another level of madness comes from the people responsible for the college’s “official Canvas shell,” which all of us are encouraged to import into our individual class Canvas sites because the standard shell is just bristling (overflowing!) with wonderful ideas. It’s like the “content creators” constituted a huge committee in which every “stakeholder” provided suggestions and every damned one was poured into the master shell. The course syllabus? Let’s dismember that into at least a dozen separate module sections! For the students’ convenience, you know. I gutted an earlier version of the college’s standard shell a few years ago, creating a syllabus page where students find a link to a pdf. And, no, I didn’t break out the course schedule from the pdf and post bits and pieces of it in fun places on the Canvas site. The online exam calendar already provides all of that pacing information. How many times do I have to tell them? My slimmed-down version has been the basis for all succeeding Canvas shells.

    One of my friends told me I have attained the age of “non-intimidation.” He’s right. If the college management tried to punish me for ignoring their “suggestions” and “advice,” it would take longer to implement than the time left before retirement.

  6. says

    OMG. People on the campus listserv are talking about this! They said there was a plan to do exactly what I suggested…that was being discussed years ago, they just haven’t implemented it yet. And that they can’t do anything yet, because it would all have to be filtered for approval by some other campus committee!
    It’s like everyone knew this was a growing problem, but everyone was just resigned to it.

  7. says

    Now they won’t do it, PZ, because people would give you credit for raising the issue. They’ll have to wait for you to retire before bringing it up again. Slowly, slowly, slowly.

  8. says

    Don’t tempt me to teach ’em a lesson by postponing retirement.

    Latest development: an announcement that we aren’t required to include everything in our syllabus, just some of it. Cunning trap: they don’t tell us which bit is required.