I’ll start this off with a proclamation: If you’re a student, a teacher, a painter, a writer, a banker, an entrepreneur, a musician, a chef, et cetera, purchase this book.
I’ve been a teacher/painter/photographer/witer for about fifteen years and have always loved the creation of curricula, always enjoyed finding new ways to teach, learn and find inspiration, and sure, that might sound cheesy, but writers and painters tend to live a little longer these days (and a lot of them have to teach too), so it gets important to pick a conducive vice; mine is the exploration of knowledge acquisition (and Rowan’s Creek bourbon).
Imaginary Syllabi–edited by Jane Sprague and released by Palm Press–is a compendium of experiences, experiments and actual academic curricula that pushes the limits of higher education in every direction. John Lennon offers the reader a historical look into Slim Brundage’s College of Complexes in Chicago. Lennon tries to mimic many of the practices of this “Playground For People Who Think” (181) in his own classes and syllabi. Earlier, CAConrad delivers beautiful and inspiring practices that focus on identity and realizing the body in the social geography, “Wash a penny, rinse it, slip it under your tongue and walk out the door. Copper is the metal of Aphrodite, never ever forget this, never, don’t forget it, ever. Drink a little orange juice outside and let some of the juice rest in your mouth with the penny. Oranges are the juice of Aphrodite, and she is the goddess of Love, but not fidelity”(26). And the reader is instructed to meditate on Love, and then, “write line after line about starvation and deprivation from the voice of one who has been loved in this world” (IBID). Dorothea Lasky invites her students to see through a new lens, a new filter, all by discussing and deconstructing the color red, and Stockyard Institute informs the reader as to how they built a Pedagogical Factory. While some of the syllabi are merely exercises like CAConrad’s, some offer full reading lists along with a specific line of questioning (I, personally, want to read and reread some of the works in Erik Pedersen’s syllabus in reference to the ideas of ‘the possible’ and ‘motivation’).
Sure, I wasn’t fond of every syllabus that was included (I tend to shy away from the overly academic or hyper-specialized curricula), but that’s kind of the point; I really think there is something to get everyone’s mind moving in this collection.