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Syllabus: The Remarkable, Unremarkable Document That Changes Everything (Germano and Nicholls) – my reading notes

syllabusIf you’ve been reading my blog for a very long time you probably know that I have written quite a lot about syllabus-writing. I also have written about Dr. William Germano’s other books (“From Dissertation to Book”, and “Getting it Published”). I have corresponded with Professor Germano before, so he told me his next book with Kit Nicholls was in the works, and that it was on syllabus-creation. This made me, obviously, very happy. Writing about syllabi is hard, because much of the time, what we do is complain about them, and about how despite its existence, often times students do not actually pay attention to it. In my view, a syllabus is part a contract, part a narrative. That’s exactly why Germano and Nicholls’ book really resonated with me. This book is generous, gentle and kind, exactly the type of interaction I have always had with Dr. Germano.

Germano and Nichols’ writing resonates with my own thoughts on the topic of syllabus construction and development. I actually now think syllabi are scholarly products that could and should be taken into account in evaluations. They can also be public goods for other professors.

I share my own syllabi publicly (though I need to be more systematic about this) precisely because I think that there are others coming behind me who might benefit from reviewing how I have taught courses. I am particularly keen in sharing my syllabi with early career scholars, and more importantly, with contingent faculty and graduate students who have a responsibility to teach a course as instructors of record.

I’m a senior professor. It’s on me now to make the path of those coming behind me more accessible, easy to traverse. That’s why I share.Really a delightful way to spend the morning. I’ve corresponded with Dr. Germano quite frequently as I’ve read and written about his two previous books, and I’ve used them in the courses and worskhops I teach on how to do academic writing.

Grateful to have this book. 10/10 would recommend.

Disclosure: Dr. Germano sent me a physical copy of his latest book with Kit Nicholls as a gesture of kindness and academic generosity, but this in no way affects what I think of the book.

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