Monday, August 04, 2008

When a Syllabus Is Not Your Own -

When a Syllabus Is Not Your Own -

Okay, when I started teaching English, I would not have made it at all without the spirit of collegiality (the old school tie, insert secret handshake here). I had to teach a course I had never taught before and I asked an instructor for help and she gave me her syllabus. I said "you are just giving me this?" and she said "syllabi don't teach, teachers teach." In other words, the syllabus is merely a skeleton and the oh so delicate flesh makes all the difference. I freely hand out my syllabus online. I do ask that if you take a syllabus, workbook, or assignment that you send me a copy of your adaptations but if you don't - it is on you. I once wrote a manual that I copy-lefted to the world. It was a handbook on writing with computers for English students. I did not have time to update it every semester. By making it freely available, I had people update it for me, use it in their courses, give me the updates and suggestions for new assignments. The sage-on-the-stage attitude of the author of "When a Syllabus is Not Your Own" is elitist and demonstrates an ignorance of copyright law and is incredibly naive about how information moves in the modern world. Nobody's, and I mean nobody's, syllabus is all that.

1 comment:

  1. Came across this old post while researching a controversy here at Rider University in Lawrenceville New Jersey.

    I'm an adjunct in business law. To teach a graduate course for the first time,the department head gave me hard copy and a digital copy of Prof. Denbo's syllabus from the semester before. It was also available to the whole campus via our Blackboard course administration system.

    When Prof. Denbo found out I had used her syllabus without consulting her personally she was "enraged" (her own words)and circulated emails condemning me.

    She filed charges with the Provost and after arbitration I've been suspended for two semesters and a letter was placed in my file.

    I am currently suing her and the University for defamation.

    Bob Kenny,