Following my fifth syllabus day here at Creighton, I came to a realization that should have occurred to me much earlier than it did; no professor treats syllabus day the same.
Some professors will look at the syllabus and see legal jargon and skim over it. By contrast, some will religiously read off every word like it’s gospel.
Others might use it as a stepping stone into a lecture that introduces the class while some might turn that introduction into a full-fledged, “pull out your notes because this class is getting serious” lecture on chapter one of the textbook that no one has ordered yet.
Speaking of which, a lot of professors use syllabus days to iron out questions surrounding course material, technology, or whatever heinous grading scale the people in the business ethics department are cooking up.
Allegedly, some professors will even let students out early following a brief walkthrough of the syllabus. Meanwhile, some might singlehandedly drag a one-sided discussion on some obscure policy until the end of class.
Then there’s introductions, and this year I experienced a first. While most professors go with a few questions that everyone answers but inevitably forgets by the next person, I had a professor who outright admitted that introductions were a waste of time. Instead, we submitted an online survey so that no one had to suffer through talking about the same copy and pasted questions.
And you know what? Maybe he’s right. How many people actually remember what’s said on syllabus day anyway?
This novel moment made me realize something, though; no professor is the same, and that’s how it should be.
Part of the beauty of an education is that students are given the chance to craft their own worldviews and paradigms, and it’s a teacher’s duty to guide their students towards beliefs that they find beneficial.
This personalized teaching style is critical because it forces students to separate what’s actually important to themselves versus what’s important to another person.
By doing this, students can better emulate someone they admire, someone who may very well be a professor, whose unique teaching style and personality spoke to them.
After all, despite what objectors to the university education system might say, college, especially at Creighton, isn’t only about preparing you for your future career. It’s about preparing you to be the best person you can be. But, we can’t know what the best version of ourselves might be if there aren’t people to model after.
Thus, our professors provide a diversity and richness in personality and background that is hard to replicate. Most, if not all, professors want us to succeed in becoming great people, and it’s their unique visions of what a great person is that makes growth so easy. On the other hand, if they were all the same, then syllabus day would truly be the worst day of the school year.