Friday, October 16, 2009

Sample Syllabi for Courses You Ain't Taught

Anon 10:05 asks,
I assume that it is OK just to make shit up in the case that one has not actually taught the courses that one wants to indicate readiness for, right?
The advice I have received is, you totally ought to include sample syllabi for courses you haven't taught but are prepared to teach. Two caveats: 1. The syllabus should not make the false suggestion that you have taught the course. It shouldn't have the semester, room number, meeting times, and stuff. 2. The syllabus should be detailed--possibly more detailed than would be normal for an actual class. You don't want to give the impression that you just cracked open the standard book for that topic and decided to go through it at the rate of a chapter a week, for example. You want it to look like you put a lot of thought into how the course will be structured and what material you will cover. You probably shouldn't just make shit up. You should probably try to make sure that they are good, too. Unless you're applying for jobs I'm applying for. Then, make shit up that sucks.

--Mr. Zero

17 comments:

Anonymous said...

Off-topic practical question:

If an ad just says "deadline for applications" not "deadline for receipt of applications", does that mean a postmark date?

Mr. Zero said...

I would assume the opposite. I would assume that unless they specifically mention a postmark, they mean deadline for when they have your application in their hands.

Anonymous said...

Or, in order to avoid the unethical situation in which you are shooting for false impressions by your reviewers, you could actually take some more time and think through how you teach the class and educate your self on it. Of course, you can't become an expert in that time, but you can become familiar with the nuts and bolts of the subject-matter. We do live in an age of the SEP and millions of introductory works, dictionaries and encyclopedias.

You never know, it may take you in interesting philosophical directions to look deeper into medieval philosophy, for example (believe me, there are many misconceptions about that area of philosophy still among philosophers that goes back to dismissive attitudes of it in the Modern period).

Anonymous said...

When I went on the job market, I saved the sample syllabi for the ends of APA interviews, when they asked about teaching. Make 'em detailed, like Mr. Zero says, and and make 'em a little distinctive. If, e.g., you assign things in the same week that don't immediately seem to go together, you might get a question about that, and then you can give an answer like, "Yeah, I think they've got such-and-such features in common, blah, blah". I found that this was a good way to show off my knowledge of the field beyond my dissertation without bringing it up awkwardly during the "research" part of the interview.

Polacrilex said...

Definitely make sure that you indicate if a syllabus is one that you have never used! During one of my interviews, the interviewers had assumed that a sample syllabus I had used was from a class I had taught. Although I had not purposely neglected to indicate this, they definitely expressed a change of attitude (for the worse) when I informed them that it was not for a class I had previously taught.

Also, make sure that you include all of the classes you have taught on your CV, even if they are not philosophy classes. Again, in the same interview I was asked about my experience with subject matter X (I did not expect someone to ask about a subject-matter outside of philosophy). It was a subject matter I had actually taught multiple times during my first stint teaching at a small university. When I remarked about this, they expressed concern that I had not included that on my CV (regardless of the fact that the CV was part of an application for a PHILOSOPHY job).

Ben said...

"make sure that you include all of the classes you have taught on your CV, even if they are not philosophy classes... they expressed concern that I had not included that on my CV (regardless of the fact that the CV was part of an application for a PHILOSOPHY job)."

Concern or surprise?

This comes as a bit of a surprise to me, since I thought it was established that a CV need not list everything you've ever done (e.g. non-philosophical publications/conferences and online book reviews).

Anonymous said...

I don't understand your comment Ben. What was the concern? Did they think that you were hiding something? Some of us have gaps between stints in grad school. Most people don't list what they did during the interval. Why should they? Do you expect a similar concern here? Concern or not, it's not clear that it's well grounded. At least I don't get it.

Polacrilex said...

Ben and Anon. 10:07 -

FWIW: I had made those same assumptions, and I was surprised that there was concern conveyed about not listing non-philosophical work. Perhaps such concern is not the norm, but in this particular interview, it did seem to count against me.

Anonymous said...

We all know that philosophy professors can be eccentric. Perhaps we shouldn't draw conclusions about the reaction of one person or one committee. I know that in actual job applications, some specify that one must include all job experience and account for any gaps (school, unemployment, etc). To say that one must put all teaching experience on one's CV is like saying that one should put everywhere one has worked on a resume. No, that can't be right. People have bizarre expectations. We can't meet them all.

Anonymous said...

I hadn't put two and two together. The people on the search committees will likely be the same people who so frequently write insane, petty, careless, and sometimes just odd referee reports! Oh noooooooooooo! Why didn't I realize this sooner? It can't be!

Anonymous said...

Anon 7:50:

I can't tell if you're being sarcastic or genuine.

second year tt guy said...

I'm with Ben and Anon. 10:07... there is nothing strange about omitting some classes from your CV (especially if they are out of discipline or you have already taught a lot). A CV (just like a resume) is a summary of your professional work for marketing purposes, it is not meant to be an all-inclusive legally binding document.

If you include everything that could plausibly be included in a CV you will likely alienate many SCs because it will look like you are 'padding' it with trivial stuff (while simultaneously burying your substantial accomplishments). I suspect that the profs that gave Polacrilex a hard time were looking for an excuse to disqualify him in favor of their preferred candidate.

Anonymous said...

What is "padding," actually? Can someone give me some concrete examples?

For example, does including graduate journal publications--titled as such on the CV--mean "padding?" What about book reviews? All peer-reviewed, etc.

Also, what about not breaking apart your publications into respective subjects such as books, articles, book reviews, and just listing what you've published...is that padding?

Just curious.

Anonymous said...

Have all the Social & Political Philosophy professors retired this year, hence the disproportionate number of advertisements in that area? I'm seem to recall last year being the same.

Anonymous said...

you guys are missing the point. put those classes on your Cv and suddenly you have a more interesting CV than the ten applications before and after you. People remember things like that - "hey, this is the person who can also teach X." even if they could care less about X, you stand out a bit.

I put some things like that under a "Other Work Experience" section on the CV. This did not include all other work experience, but did include some interesting ones, and several people on committees asked about some of the jobs.

You need to stand out from a boatload of people who also have experience teaching philosophy. It won't make you look like a worse philosopher, might make you look better, and either way makes your file pop a bit more than it otherwise would.

Anonymous said...

Social and political is usually bigger than some other sub-fields. Ethics is in my impression consistently the largest (maybe not quite as saliently so this year?). Poor 19th century people... poor metaphysicians...

Anonymous said...

Can someone tell me what social philosophy is? I really don't know.