Lets go over the Syllabus

The best teacher I had in college had the finest first day of class routine in education. He would introduce himself and his background, hold up the syllabus and say, “This is a syllabus, if you cannot comprehend it without having me spend an hour explaining it, you probably don’t belong in college.”

Tonight, I had a class where the professor spent an hour and 1/2 talking about the syllabus. If people cannot read and comprehend a syllabus without having a professor go over every little detail, they should not be in college. The professor’s excuse is that somehow, reading a syllabus is going to prevent people from complaining about their grade 2 weeks before the end of the class. In reality, those people are going to complain regardless.

Besides spending a week attending classes that go over the syllabus, my other task for the week is to pick up the corresponding book for each class. Can anyone rationally explain the cost of books in higher education? Why the hell are we still using books in 2005? The only explanation I have is that the textbook industry takes every opportunity to lock on to an obsolete business model. The textbook industry seems to have a lot in common with the record industry.

It seems that textbooks could be easily replaced with on line content for free or a small charge. 2 years ago I was amazed to see how a push from the higher echelon of administrators at Penn State could get a music system in place in a very short period of time. Penn State got a lot of press for something that has absolutely nothing to do with learning.

How amazing would it be if Penn State lead the initiative to make textbooks obsolete?