Seemed like a good idea at the time

I think it was Clausewitz who said, "No plan ever survives first contact with the enemy."   Take out the part about their being an enemy and the sentiment could apply just as well to syllabus preparation.  I spent all of last week finalizing the syllabi, assignments, readings and class activities for my courses in the upcoming semester.  And let me tell you, jack, they're perfect.  Everything is well timed and ideally-coordinated for maximum pedagogical impact.  I am even starting to get excited about it.  My inner Boy Scout has shown up and he's ready to go out and change the world.

But hold on.  I've been doing this job for 20 years and should know by now that it never  goes the way I planned.  I will screw something up.  More than once, too.  A quarter of the students won't read the things I've assigned; another 25% will but won't understand it.  The remainder will slog through the readings and assignments with grim resignation.  And all the brilliant plans for which I have so much hope for in August will have fallen flat before the middle of October.  As always, I will place the blame on my failure to properly plan ahead.

There is no reason to believe that this semester will differ from the previous ones.  It will be messy, filled with hesitation, improvisation and regret.  It's the same cycle year after year.  Nevertheless, as with falling in love, you have to believe that this time will be different.  Delusion is a necessary part of the plan.


Professor Quest said…
Actually it wasn't Clausewitz. It was Von Moltke.

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