The Things You Don’t Know

The things you don’t know can be dangerous. I’ve often commented about he importance of the syllabus for this very reason. When I was teaching a course that had testing online I frequently had students “forget” to take their midterm and/or final exams. This particular course had those exams open for well over a week, twenty-four hours a day. How could they forget? They didn’t look at the syllabus, they didn’t pay attention in class, and it was the thing they didn’t know. The thing they didn’t know was dangerous — very dangerous indeed. I’m not immune to these dangers though. I recently ran into something I didn’t know and it has added lots of work to my shoulders that I didn’t know I would have to deal with previously.

In my particular case it has to do with handing out a survey to some students as part of my dissertation. The thing I didn’t know is that there is an entire process and group of people that need to vet everything I’m doing in order to be granted the ability to have a student circle “yes” or “no” anonymously in response to a written question. This was a thing I didn’t know… and now my planned weekend of more relaxation than usual has turned into a weekend full of things I need to do — all because it was a thing I didn’t know.

Sometimes there’s nothing you can do about the things you didn’t know. Sometimes there’s no way to know until it’s far past the time when you would have wished to have known about it. In my case it is debatable whether I could have really known prior to my chair mentioning it to me. If you’re currently in a class, though, the syllabus is your go to document for understanding expectations and due dates. Don’t get caught not knowing. It’s all right there in front of you.

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