In one of my classes this term, there has been some tension around expectations. These tensions have bubbled to the surface in various ways, and last night–in the absence of the professor, but in the presence of his selected stand-in–we processed and discussed our (collective) concerns about the course. For two hours.

The biggest concern, well, the biggest one directly related to the course–was the syllabus. Strictly speaking, it not being clear enough. When you get a group full of former- and current-teachers in a room together and tell them that they are getting a grade at the end, well, they want clarity. They want rubrics. They want agendas. They want clearly listed readings and other assignments. As much as teachers live in ambiguity in their daily school lives, I have found that teachers as students are not very good with ambiguity. So, we you set up a class format that is a “seminar,” whatever that means to the different individuals involved, and the expectations are, shall we say, loosey-goosey, well, it takes a really good kind of chemistry to keep that group knitted together. And–and I suggested this last night–we really don’t seem to have that chemistry. I think–personally, I feel–that we found some of that connection last night that had been missing. Maybe it was solidarity in catharsis. Maybe it was being able to step out from under the pressure of the coursework. (books to read! papers to write! presentations to prep!)

All in all, it’s never boring…


2 thoughts on “Tension/Ambiguity

  1. I had a class last semester where we had no syllabus at all. None. For the whole semester. It was awful.

  2. I seem to remember there being classes sans syllabus as an undergrad…but that was a while ago! I definitely have always had a syllabus in grad school.

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