The Only Guide to Class Syllabi that You’ll Ever Need

An Old Syllabus from the 1400sBecause school is a cycle of never-ending work, you know that finals (AHHH!), or Rowndiau Terfynol, don’t mean you’ve finally reached the end.

You can think of it this way: every semester, you learn a little more, which you are then tested on in the final. Finals are also cumulative (for instance, you need 4th grade math, such as addition, to be able to do well on your high school math finals). Therefore, every finals test week is harder than the one before.

It becomes an unfathomable amount of material, to the point where you know enough information about science, math, English, and history that you can answer any question asked about these things. Your answer is almost always correct (meaning factual), as you reply: “Oh yeah. I remember now. We definitely learned that. But I forgot it.”

You would think this sheer amount of information would become impossible to learn, but just as you reach that point, you get spit out into the real world, where you don’t need any of the information you stuffed your brain with. Then you can answer any questions with: “What do you think I am? A student? I don’t need to know that in the real world.” (This particular example being a response to: what will you bring to our company?).

However, in high school, the days after mid-year finals bring a few new classes. In these classes, after you’ve determined how un-cool everybody else in the class is, you will be handed something called a “Syllabus” from the teacher.

The word “syllabus” originated in 1957, when one teacher, frustrated by constantly having to explain her policies, passed out a sheet of paper with her policies on them. Her students, of course, thought this was a ridiculous idea at the time, and called that teacher a “Silly Bus” behind her back (1957 slang meaning something like a clown, dork, or dweeb. This phrase is considered to have given birth to the current phrase “Silly Goose,” because the old phrase was not environmentally friendly enough to make it in the 2000s-buses pollute).

Now, though, you probably could care less about the name of the paper your teacher just handed you, and more about what the paper actually means. Here’s how you should decipher it:


Most syllabi are organized by heading to make them easier to decipher. Scan all of the headings immediately to make sure there is nothing too unnerving. For instance, it might go: Academic Expectations, Late Work Policies, Situations Involving the Guillotine, etc. You should be immediately alarmed and worried. I mean, academic expectations? You have to be academic? Maybe there was some mistake.

Grading Scale

Teachers often put their grading scale on the back of the syllabus. It usually has a bunch of percentage intervals and the letter grade they correspond to, such as “90-100%=A.” You need to study this carefully, and then figure out what grades you will need to spell out your name on your report card at the end of the year. If your name is Zeezee, than you’ve got an easy semester, as opposed to someone named Aaron.

Contact Information

Your teachers probably also put a way to contact them on the syllabus, whether by email, phone, or the times they are available at school. This contact information is vital. You need to commit it to memory and know it as well as your own. Then, the next time someone you dislike asks you for your contact info, you can give them the teacher’s instead.

Look for Small Print

Some teachers have had minor legal training, or may be related to lawyers of some kind. Just to be safe, you should read the whole syllabus, checking for any unusual demands. If you see something like: “Students shall then place their unmarked paper bags containing well-circulated twenty-dollar bills next to the statue between one and two AM on the first Friday of every month,” you should be slightly concerned. Before signing the bottom, check with your teacher to figure out how much money you’ll need to leave if you only want a letter grade that is present in your name, and not just an A.

Take Advantage of the Loopholes

Teachers have gotten pretty slick with their syllabi, often including all possible offenses under “Students may NOT:”, including chewing gum, arriving late, sleeping or eating in class, using your phone, and building a scale model of the Eiffel Tower out of the staples and tape present on the teacher’s desk.

However, this often leaves a lot of room for possible liberties of the students. For example, you can ‘taste,’ gum, just not chew it (so you can leave it in your mouth and chew it when the teacher isn’t looking). You can use someone else’s phone, just not your own. You can build a scale model of the Empire State building, just not the Eiffel Tower. You can even build a scale model of the Eiffel Tower using just tacks and paperclips from the teacher’s desk.

While there may be other things present on the syllabus, these are all of the major points. I just hope no teachers read this blog, or you/I might end up with a syllabus so teen-proof, so strict, and so all-around solid that when we are asked “What will you bring to our company?” we reply “I may not speak out of turn.”

Returning One’s Textbook gives the same benefits as Dead Fish

Inside Cover of TextbookI’ve heard that a number of things can teach you how to say goodbye for good.  The worst argument I’ve ever heard in favor of buying a child a fish, for example.  This opinion is that fish are good because when they die (which fish are known for doing), the child will learn to say goodbye.

Whenever I hear that, I know I’m in the presence of one of those people who is convinced that Global Warming is a conspiracy theory propagated by rich oil companies as an advertising campaign (I’m sorry so many of my political jokes are about the environment lately, but it is one political issue I think that most of you will agree needs fixing.  I couldn’t use abortion the same way, because some of you are in favor, some of you are against, and some of you get abortion and abstinence mixed up).

Basically, this argument says that there are actually benefits to young children crying over dead fish.  The only benefit I can think of is that the pet stores sure make a killing with repeat customers.

Another way I suppose someone could learn to say goodbye is by watching sappy movies.  Then, when their spouse/friend/partner/accountant leaves them due to their poor taste in movies, they will learn to say goodbye.

More personally, though, I think that the returning of textbooks is an emotional subject, at least for myself.  I mean, I’ve been with the same four textbooks all year, and we’ve really bonded.  Therefore, I’ve drafted some goodbye letters that I would like you to see before I send them; feedback is welcome.


Dear Math Textbook,

Do you remember all of those fun times we had in class, with you as my pillow?  I will certainly miss those.  You were a great friend in times of need, and, although you caused my back to require insert-a-metal-rod-oscopy surgery, you were genuinely fun loving.

I especially love your cover illustration.  It is very creative of your publishers to have somehow tied a soccer ball, the great pyramids, and the Golden-Gate Bridge all to math; while I don’t see the connection, I’m sure it increased the interest level most people have in math.

I am sorry for that one time I dropped you.  The fact that your condition went from “New” to “Thank-God-for-duct-tape” shows how much fun we had together.

I’ll miss you,



Dear Science Textbook,

I would like to apologize for almost setting you on fire, but aren’t you glad you’re not John’s textbook? Ha ha.  I would like to thank you for having so much useless information; you made a great scavenger hunt out of finding the title of each chapter.

One of these days I will try to come back and visit.  I heard rumors that they might replace the science textbooks next year, so I wish you luck in your future career (can I recommend speech-writer?).

I appreciate that you stood firm against those who wanted to remove certain parts of you (such as your evolution chapters), although, seeing as you are pretty much an unbendable pile of thick paper and cardboard, I don’t see how you couldn’t have stood firm.

Miss you,



Dear Spanish Textbook,

You were, by far, my least favorite textbook, because you had the fewest pages (I love learning).  Thus, it is your fault I almost left you on the plane (which was next going to France, by the way.  Let’s see you learn a new language; it’s harder than it looks).

We had a great time conjugating those verbs, except for the irregular ones.  It is a shame that you will be slowly and steadily replaced by things such as Google Translate, but that’s the “Name of the Game,” or the “Llama del Partido.”

I would like to thank you for having best-of-the-90’s graphics.  Your colorful page borders and shadowed pictures made it seem as if your publishers were almost eager to show off (“Look! I can make a yellow swirly!”).

Miss you (but not as much as some others),



Dear History Textbook,

I never really used you for more than an hour a week, and I apologize.  Talk to my teacher, it’s not my fault.  I’d like to thank you for having so much misinformation, according to my teacher and other authorities.  You must have been the Wikipedia of your day.

I enjoyed thumbing through your maps; I learned that the United States is located in the northern hemisphere.  I’m sure that will help me later in life, especially if I apply for a job at Hank’s auto repair (“What type of wrench would you use for small engine repair?” “Well, I think it would be a wrench from the northern hemisphere, but it could also be from other places, like the Southern Hemisphere, etc.”).

Miss you (not really),