Towards Cruelty-Free Syllabi Online
A common approach to syllabus creation may lean towards being stern and inflexible, primarily focusing on rules and punitive measures for non-compliance. In his talk, "Towards Cruelty-Free Syllabi," Matthew Cheney challenges educators to rethink this approach and foster a more understanding and supportive learning environment.
Cheney encourages educators to mirror the understanding and nurturing tone they would use in a correspondence with a student facing difficulties. He advocates for a shift away from a punitive framework, urging educators to craft syllabi that are characterized by trust and encouragement, rather than suspicion and punishment.
Key questions guiding this transformative approach include:
• Does your syllabus invite students warmly, encouraging them to engage, or does it primarily serve as a list of prohibitions and penalties?
• Is the underlying assumption that students are inherently untrustworthy?
• Are the articulated policies more punitive than they are supportive?
• Does the language of the syllabus communicate trust and understanding, or does it reflect a more authoritarian stance?
Through a re-evaluation of the language and tone used in syllabi, educators can create a space that fosters trust, understanding, and collaboration, cultivating a classroom environment where students feel supported and motivated to learn.
Matthew Cheney is Associate Professor and Director of Interdisciplinary Studies at Plymouth State University. He is the author of Blood: Stories (Black Lawrence Press, 2016, Hudson Prize winner), Modernist Crisis and the Pedagogy of Form (Bloomsbury Academic, 2020), About That Life: Barry Lopez and the Art of Community (punctum books, 2023), and The Last Vanishing Man and Other Stories (Third Man Books, 2023). His essays and fiction have appeared in a wide variety of venues, including Woolf Studies Annual, English Journal, LA Review of Books, LitHub, Electric Literature, Approaches to Teaching Modernist Women's Writing in English, The LGBTQ+ Comics Studies Reader, Conjunctions, One Story, Weird Tales, and elsewhere. You can find him online at matthewcheney.net and his academic blog finiteeyes.net.
- Tuesday, September 19, 2023
- 1:00pm - 2:30pm
- Time Zone:
- Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras, Saskatchewan (change)
- This is an online event. Event URL will be sent via registration email.