In 2014, author and teacher Sonya Huber published the Shadow Syllabus on her blog. It was originally meant to be a personal manifesto of sorts — “written to discover what I actually thought about my syllabi,” she explains — but it evolved into something more. Teachers shared it with their students, and it went viral, resonating with many readers.
As we recognize educators on National Teacher Day, let’s revisit snippets from Sonya’s syllabus, which is just as relevant today.
Those who aim for A’s don’t get as many A’s as those who abandon the quest for A’s and seek knowledge or at least curiosity.
The goals and outcomes I am required to put on my syllabus make me depressed; they are the illusion of controlling what cannot be controlled.
Our flaws make us human; steer toward yours. I steer toward mine. That won’t always be rewarded in “the real world.”
“The real world” isn’t the real world.
I think I have more to teach you about navigation than about commas, although I’m good at commas.
This is about commas, but it is also about pauses and breaths and ways to find moments of rest in the blur of life’s machinery.
One of you who is filled with hate for this class right now will end up loving it by the end.
One of you who I believe to be unteachable and filled with hate for me will end up being my favorite.
I want you, especially, to come talk to me.
Welcome. Welcome to this strange box with chairs in it. I hope you laugh and surprise yourself.