Letter: Wanted: Brenner’s advice for syllabus

 Dear Michael Brenner,

     I just read your letter about your pointless classes, and I’d like to ask you a favor. I really need some help on my Spring syllabus, and I thought you might like to offer advice.

   This semester I asked my students to write some essays. The first one was about a vivid incident that changedthe direction of their lives forever, but I see now that this isreally not very useful. Then I asked the student to write about howthey conceive of their identity based on gender, ethnicity andspirituality—but now I see that sexuality, power, culture,and faith are really just beside the point. Now we are writing about what it means to be an American—to be free to pursue the American dream, but during an election year, isn’t thisbeside the point? I was going to ask students to write  aboutsome critical life decision they made–what would have happened if they had taken a different path, but now I see this is irrelevant.

   Last, I was going to them to describe how theywere going to give back to their community—but I don’t see how that is important either. I was hoping that students could make more informed life choices and could acquire the communication skills necessary for the job of their dreams, but you really have opened my eyes.

   So would you do me a favor and write my Spring syllabus so it’s not so useless? Could you send it to the Paisano as soon as possible? I would appreciate your help because I’m a little tired right now from grading 3000 pages of essays every semester and trying to teach—or what do you think—is that useless, too?


Donna Meletio