Make your own beer, eat your own syllabus

Tuesday I brewed two batches of beer: American Pale, with Sterling and Willamette hops and good ole WLP 001 California Ale Yeast. I also made a British-style robust stout with Montmellick extract and WLP 005. It’s been a while since I made beer, and as usual when I get out of any habit, I’m kicking myself for not keeping up. Just hearing the airlocks click away in the dining room (too cool in the basement for primary fermentation) makes me feel good.

I’ve also got a good jump on the syllabus for ENG 180, which is Western’s first year composition class. Since I haven’t taught FYC since I was at Florida, I’m really looking forward to it. While I’m trying to follow the WIU standards, I’m imagining three main focuses: invention, revision, and polishing. A lot of folks here assign six essays which connect to each other. Ouch. That’s way too much. I’m leaning towards three or four essays, for a sum of no more than 15 pages of finished writing.

To prod the ole brain, I’ve been reading CCC and Googling for syllabi. The latter is depressing. Easily half of the syllabi I’ve found include gems like, “Any assignment with more than two spelling errors will receive a grade of F” or “IT IS YOUR RESPONSIBILITY TO DOCUMENT YOUR ABSENCES” or references to Turnitin or other crap. Augh. How many of these folks, I wonder, could meet their own standards? How many do their own assignments? To apply this to local context, I can guarantee that NO faculty member in my department, in one academic year, has ever written 12 essays. And I would wager that 95% of FYC teachers don’t understand the differences between grammar, syntax, and usage, and use handbooks which similarly conflate them. I could go on.

I better do better.

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6 Responses to Make your own beer, eat your own syllabus

  1. jeff says:

    Some syllabi linked to here:
    which I use as examples when I teach the practicum.

  2. tengrrl says:

    before one of the carter-ricklys was born i argued unsuccessful for a Diaper Pale Ale. any chance you could brew one up to honor little ms madelyn?

  3. cbd says:

    Indeed, I will use that name. Madelyn goes through 12-18 changes a day, so if anything exceeds the importance of beer in the Dilger-Easterling household, it is diapers.

  4. tengrrl says:

    woohoo! I knew the world needed a Diaper Pale Ale!

  5. Erich says:


    I’m with you 100% on the absurdity of six essays. I’m leaning towards three in my class this semester. The accidental “Beer, Teaching” category is amusing. Ah, Florida…


  6. cbd says:

    Accidental? 🙂

    I ended up with four essays: two, three, four, and five pages. We’ll see how that goes.

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