I’ve been in school for almost… a hell of a long time, and I’m getting tired of teachers that hand out a syllabus on the first day and lay into everyone about what will absolutely not be tolerated under any circumstances.  In my opinion, students should be allowed to write the syllabus for a class at the end of the year so that it can be used next year to tell incoming students what the class is really like.

See, in all my years of school, the syllabus has always been a list of ideals; the teacher’s hopes and dreams of what their class will be.  Sadly for them, we students tend to crush their dreams just as easily as they kill ours.

So, to give you an idea of what I’m talking about here, I have created an example of what an honest syllabus would look like:

BIOLOGY

Mr. Jameson

COURSE DESCRIPTION

This course tries (and fails rather miserably) to provide a basic understanding of the study of life on Earth.  Content covered includes cell biology, DNA and protein synthesis, ecology, animal behavior, and genetics.  We were supposed to get to embryonic development and speciation, but we spent too much time retaking tests as a class.  My guess is that nobody passed the state test.  Better luck next time!

COURSE OBJECTIVES

Throughout this course, students will develop a misunderstanding of the following:

*Characteristics of life, such as movement and other things I can’t remember.

*Cellular processes, like… um… exocytology?

*Environmental processes, like… whatever.

*Heredity, and other four-syllable words that I can’t spell.

COURSE POLICIES

Attendance:  Attending class doesn’t really matter.  I missed three days in a row once and understood the lessons perfectly by checking out Google.  Actually, you might be better off just teaching yourself everything than letting this guy try to do it.  So go!  Smoke in the parking lot all period!  Be free!

Tardiness:  Tardiness will not be excused.  For the first week.  After that, you can bet on Mr. J being too frazzled to notice anyone that comes in late, even though he will insist otherwise.

Assignments:  Honestly, Mr. J puts the ‘ass’ in ‘assignment.’  Each daily assignment is worth ten points, but don’t let the word ‘daily’ throw you off.  If your class complains about not having time as much as mine did, you’ll probably end up doing one every month or so.  There really is no such thing as ‘turning it in late,’ unless you try to get something in after grades have been finalized.  Then you’re screwed.

Materials:  Okay, so you’re technically supposed to have a three-ring binder and composition book for this class.  Personally, I did just fine scribbling things down on my shoe all year.  Didn’t run out of room or anything.  You’re also going to need your cell phone and a few packs of gum in the likely event that you become bored.  Noise-cancelling headphones are a good idea too.

Classroom Behavior:  Anything goes.

Cheating:  No such thing.  If Mr. J learned anything from my class, he’s going to start making all tests open-book and open-neighbor.  Otherwise, everyone fails and he has to teach everything over.

GRADING POLICY

30% of your grade is based on assignments, projects, you know the drill.

70% of your grade is based on your ability to correct a test with the class and turn in the corrected test for your final grade.  It is also based on presentations that Mr. J always swears will happen and yet they never do.

Tests:  Tests in this class are hardly worth mentioning, but I’ll mention them anyway:  First there’s a real test.  Usually more than half the class fails it, so then there’s an in-class retake.  Then Mr. J comes in with those tests and lets everyone look up the answers in the textbooks to fix their mistakes.  Then he grades them.

SUMMARY

You’ve got nothing to worry about.  Don’t let yourself be intimidated by his first-day, sit-down-and-shut-up-and-this-is-how-it’s-gonna-be speech.  That only lasts for a week or so.  Then you’ll start seeing gray hairs.

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