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Are You Sure You’re Not Pre-Law?

It’s amazing how long my syllabus is. The syllabus itself is about 5 pages, but refers to the first chapter or two of the lab manual which is 25 pages. So, I spend around 30 pages defining my courses, what we cover, why, what the students can or cannot do, what happens when they step out of line, etc. The longer I teach, the longer the syllabus becomes. Why? Because some students seem to spend more energy finding loopholes than they do trying to actually learn the material, and I have to keep adding things to head them off.

“But you don’t say I can’t do that in the syllabus!” As if that justifies it. “No, I don’t say you can’t spit on the floor either, but I strongly recommend against it. Just do the tasks the syllabus asks you to and we’ll get along fine.”

Students feel (and are) extraordinarily empowered today. It seems we have to earn our authority as their instructors each and every day for each student, because some seem to constantly challenge us, and not just intellectually. That kind of a challenge would actually be a relief! Everything is negotiable.

As frustrating as it can be, there is a spiritual lesson here. God has six billion people created in His image and who aren’t afraid to throw it around or in His face. And He LOVES us ANYWAY! There are many times I’m not feeling particularly loving to my students, yet God loves and blesses (and sometimes disciplines) me regardless of what a schmuck I am towards Him. I don’t fail my student when he’s a jerk because the university would get on my case. God killed His Son to save me because I can be a jerk.

“’My ways are not your ways,’ declares the LORD.” Isaiah 55:8

No kidding.


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