Unread Syllabus Had Clues Leading to a $50 Prize

This is why it's important to read your syllabus

Sometimes lockers can hold an unexpected surprise.
Joshua Hoehne/Unsplash

Depending on the temperament of your teachers when you were in school, you may have experienced something like this: a test handed out with detailed instructions to read all of the rules before proceeding. If you didn’t read the rules, you’d find yourself with a grueling series of tasks to carry out. If you did read them all, you’d find yourself with one very simple task to complete before handing it in.

University of Tennessee at Chattanooga professor Kenyon Wilson had a similar idea to encourage students in one of his classes to read their syllabus. According to an article at The New York Times, Wilson placed clues leading his students to a cash prize on the second page. (All told, the syllabus was three pages long.)

The text didn’t reveal exactly what was being offered, but it made it clear that something was. “Free to the first who claims; locker one hundred forty-seven; combination fifteen, twenty-five, thirty-five,” Wilson wrote. He had placed $50 inside of the locker at the beginning of the semester, along with a note asking the person who found it to write their name.

At the end of the semester, the money was still there and the note was blank.

When he found that the money had not been retrieved, he took to Facebook to announce the end of what he dubbed “[m]y semester-long experiment.” From there, coverage from the CBC and the Times emerged — and, one assumes, plenty of his students will be reading his syllabus in the future.

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