Ignoring the Syllabus – Personal Peril

Remember how important the syllabus is?
Remember my frustration as an instructor with students who don’t follow the syllabus? Before you start thinking I’m going to yell at you I’d like to make an admission: I ignore the syllabus too. I don’t mean to, but I do. It happened this week. I showed up to class having read a great deal of material and having a freshly printed response paper to the readings in hand. Then I saw it: other students with other papers. “What’s due today?” I asked. The response stopped my heart. “A two to three page review of the performance we attended last week.” Really! Seriously! Sadly, it was true. I had done the wrong homework (because I hadn’t consulted the syllabus). I checked my watch: five minutes until class started. I darted to my computer, opened a word processor, and began to feverishly type. What happened next?

Today I got my paper back, along with a stern look from the professor who remarked that I was lucky to have received the embarrassing grade I did with only a one page response loosely structured and unrevised. I explained the predicament, she understood, and we moved on. Was it the end of the world? No. There will be other papers. There will be other readings and assignments too. The unfunny truth was that I had actually worked ahead of schedule by failing to do an assignment. Imagine how much better this would have turned out had I simply chosen to work ahead rather than illogically fall behind because I worked ahead (skipping assignments along the way). I am not immune to failure. I am not immune to idiocy. I am not immune to lapses in thinking. The important thing is to be honest, get back on track quickly, and learn from your mistakes. How about we work on this together?